Big hits elude Royals vs. Cleveland

KANSAS CITY — In Wednesday night’s extra-innings loss to Cleveland, the Royals were searching for the big hit late, one that would help them break through with the bases loaded and no outs.

In Thursday’s series-finale loss, the Royals were still searching.

Kansas City managed seven hits in its 4-2 loss at Kauffman Stadium, as starter Triston McKenzie and the Cleveland bullpen handed the Royals a series sweep just three games after returning home from a seven-win road trip.

Thursday’s loss marked the Royals’ 11th consecutive loss to the Indians this season. They haven’t beaten the American League Central foe — which has hovered around .500 all season and entered Thursday 10 games behind the first-place White Sox — since Cleveland’s home opener in April. The 11 losses against the Tribe is a new franchise record, beating the 10 straight from July 21-Sept. 24, 2005.

In this current span, the Royals have been outscored 67-36.

After Hunter Dozier drove in Michael A. Taylor with an RBI single in the second inning, McKenzie retired 13 of the next 14, with Carlos Santana only reaching base because of an error by third baseman José Ramírez. The Royals’ next run didn’t come until the ninth.

Mike Minor had allowed one hit through four scoreless innings but came undone in the fifth inning. Emmanuel Rivera’s throwing error put a runner on first, and Minor followed by allowing a single and a three-run homer to give up the Royals’ lead and give the Indians some breathing room. With a double, single and wild pitch, Minor put runners on second and third, but he got out of it with a fly ball. At 93 pitches, though, his night was done.

Joel Payamps pitched a scoreless sixth inning before giving way to Kris Bubic, who gave up one run in two innings and who had been a regular starter until this week. The Royals haven’t announced a rotation for this weekend’s series against Chicago, and this is partly why. They’ve wanted to take it day-by-day because of the fatigue some of their arms have been feeling as the final month of the season gets underway.