KANSAS CITY — How bad is it going for the Royals? Their pitchers threw a combined four-hitter against the American League Central-leading Indians on Wednesday night and it still wasn’t enough.
Four Royals pitchers held the Indians down, but the Royals’ offense — last in Major League Baseball in runs scored — couldn’t produce, either, in a 3-2 loss at Kauffman Stadium.
The Royals have lost six straight and 24 of 28.
One of the Royals’ runs was manufactured on a delayed steal, which resulted in Alex Gordon stealing home. The Royals managed little else against Indians starter Trevor Bauer, who went 7 2/3 innings and struck out eight.
Right-hander Trevor Oaks, presumably a part of the Royals’ rebuild, was an emergency starter after scheduled starter Ian Kennedy went on the disabled list Tuesday with a strained oblique. Oaks, recalled from Triple-A Omaha, went four innings and gave up two hits and three runs.
But Oaks had difficulty commanding his best pitch — the two-seam fastball — and he walked four hitters. He threw 73 pitches, 44 for strikes.
Royals manager Ned Yost said Oaks simply was too up in the zone, likely because he had trouble gripping the ball with the high humidity and a heat index at 100 degrees.
“He’s been doing really, really well down in Omaha, keeping the ball down,” Yost said. “All our scouting reports are, he’s keeping the ball down. He’s leading the league in ERA down there. But he was sweating like a horse out there, and just really struggled to get the ball down.”
Oaks admitted he did have trouble gripping the ball because of perspiration.
“Big league balls are a little more slick than I’m used to in the Minors,” Oaks said. “With that and the humidity, the sweat running down my arms, I couldn’t get a clean grip on it. Kept putting resin on it between innings … but really, I needed to make the adjustment.
“It was the leadoff walks and not having good command [that hurt]. Luckily, I had a good slider, which bailed me out of bad counts. Really frustrating when I have walked one or two an outing, and now back to four. Now, back to the drawing board.”
Relievers Heath Fillmyer, Tim Hill and Wily Peralta shut out the Tribe the rest of the way on two hits.