Toronto 4 Kansas City 1
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — John Farrell has plenty of reasons to be bummed that the Toronto Blue Jays won’t be back in Kansas City this season. Four of them, to be exact.
Jose Bautista hit a two-run homer, Kelly Johnson also went deep, and the Blue Jays beat the bumbling Royals 4-1 on Monday night to wrap up their first four-game sweep in nearly three years.
The Blue Jays improved to 6-1 on the road this season, making the most of their only trip through Kansas City. They head off to Baltimore for a three-game set that wraps up a seven-game road swing, one that has thrust them into the picture in the AL East.
Brandon Morrow (1-1) took care of the struggling Kansas City lineup. The right-hander allowed seven hits and a walk in 6 2-3 innings, and Luis Perez and Francisco Cordero did the rest. Cordero got some help from a double-play groundout in the ninth for his second save.
“I thought Brandon did a great job from the third inning on,” Farrell said. “He pitched out of a number of jams and really executed when he needed to make pitches.”
He got some help from the Royals’ ghastly situational hitting, one of many factors that led to their 11th straight loss. Kansas City wound up winless on a 10-game homestand, the first team to lose its first 10 at home since the Cubs dropped 12 in a row at Wrigley Field in 1994.
Eric Hosmer scored the Royals’ only run with a homer leading off the second inning.
“That’s a good team over there with a lot of good players,” Farrell said. “They’ve got a very good, talented young team. It’s what we went through last year. You have to grow and mature.”
The four-game sweep was the Blue Jays’ first since May 2009, and their first ever at Kansas City. The last time they swept four on the road was 2003 against the New York Yankees.
Bruce Chen (0-2) used his veteran guile to keep the Blue Jays on the ropes most of the game. His only major mistakes came against Bautista and Johnson, and they cost him the game.
Kansas City (3-13) matched the 2006 team for the second-worst start in franchise history, and heads out on a nine-game trip having lost 11 straight for the first time since May 2008.
The last team to lose 10 straight at home was Arizona in 2004.
“Talk to us at the end of May and see what our record is,” Royals outfielder Jeff Francoeur said. “I still believe we’ve got plenty of talent in this room to turn it around, and that’s what we plan on doing. I wanted to get this one bad tonight just to get one at home.”
Johnson staked the Blue Jays to the lead with his first-inning home, and it was tied 1-all in the third inning when Alcides Escobar led off with a double.
Chris Getz sacrificed him to third base, but Alex Gordon struck out — he’s hitting .177 on the season — and Billy Butler grounded out to third base to end the inning.
Royals manager Ned Yost made the same call for a sacrifice bunt following a leadoff double by portly catcher Brayan Pena in the fifth. This time, the bunt by Mitch Maier was fielded by Morrow, who had plenty of time to throw out the lumbering Pena at third base.
The poorly executed bunt cost the Royals a run when Escobar singled moments later. Getz then popped out to the catcher and Gordon flied out to centre to end the inning without a run.
“It seemed like there were guys on base the whole night,” Morrow said.
When they couldn’t cross the plate, the Blue Jays took advantage.
Johnson drew his second straight walk in the sixth inning, and Bautista connected on the first pitch of the at-bat from Chen, sending a go-ahead shot over the fence in left and into the Royals bullpen. Bautista’s third homer of the season snapped a 2-for-12 stretch in the series.
The Royals put runners on second and third with two outs in the seventh, but Perez got Gordon to ground out harmlessly to shortstop. Kansas City was 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position, and finished the four-game set 5 for 40 in such situations.
“Pitching like we did this series,” Johnson said, “that’s going to give us a chance.”
Notes: Getz was the Royals’ fourth leadoff hitter of the series. … Perez had not allowed a hit to a left-handed batter until Getz doubled in the seventh. … Gordon went 0 for 4. … The Blue Jays head to Baltimore for three games starting Tuesday. RHP Henderson Alvarez will pitch the opener. … Royals LHP Luke Hochevar goes Tuesday night in their series opener at Cleveland.