Bats freeze on hot night against Royals
McGowan's solid start spoiled as Jays are four-hit
KANSAS CITY -- Troy Glaus came into the game mired in an 0-for-August slump. The hitless streak continued in his first two at bats, but by the time the game ended he had rebounded with a line single and a ringing double.
Unfortunately, that was half of the Blue Jays offense for the night, the key factor in dropping a 4-1 decision at the hands of the Royals.
"He was due," manager John Gibbons said. "Now if we can keep him rolling, we'll be all right."
While Glaus started making some noise with his bat, the rest of the lineup was quiet. Very quiet. Vernon Wells smacked a double in the fourth. Only a fifth inning solo homer by Gregg Zaun kept the team from being shut out. Other than that, no other runner even reached third base.
Gibbons gave credit to Royals starter Leo Nunez.
"He's got a good, live fastball. He's got a real good slider," Gibbons said. "He stayed at the knees and he had a changeup he'd break out every now and then."
Blue Jays starter Dustin McGowan suffered his first loss in his last four starts. He shut out the Royals on one hit through the first four innings but gave up four runs, three of them earned. Kansas City managed only six hits off of the Toronto righthander.
"He pitched good enough to win, that's for sure," Gibbons said.
McGowan said he made a lot of good pitches during the game, but the home run by Alex Gordon in he sixth was a killer. McGowan left a fastball down the middle.
"I made one bad pitch to Gordon, and I paid for it," he said.
Gordon finished the night with three hits off McGowan.
McGowan also said the 95-degree game-time temperature and the 80 percent humidity were not factors.
"I grew up in this kind of heat," said the Georgia native.
Another measuring stick for McGowan's effectiveness has been his ability to keep the ball down. Going into Saturday's game, in games where he recorded 10 or more groundouts, he had compiled a 4-0 record with a 2.05 ERA. In this outing he recorded 11 groundouts and four strikeouts.
"He threw the ball pretty good," Zaun said. "He missed his lanes a couple of times, and we paid the penalty."
Zaun said McGowan's ball was moving and he mixed his pitches well.
"They had some opportunities to drive the baseball, and they didn't miss the mistakes," the catcher said.
The Royals stole five bases on the night, their highest total since June 19, 2004. For the season, Zaun has only thrown out five of 51 base stealers, 9.8 percent, the lowest percentage among starting catchers in the American League.
But Gibbons seems unconcerned.
"We've been vulnerable to that all year," he said.
Gibbons also said he thought McGowan took a bit long to get to the plate on a couple of occasions. Though the stolen bases only directly led to one run, Gibbons conceded it did put additional pressure on the defense.
Gibbons quickly added, "The two-run homer was the big difference."
He was referring to Gordon's shot into the right-center-field fountain in the sixth that moved the Kansas City lead from 2-1 to 4-1.
McGowan also said the stolen bases didn't bother him.
In addition to Gordon, Joey Gathright was particularly troublesome coming through with two hits, an RBI and a pair of stolen bases.
"It looks like things have finally started to come together for him," Gibbons said. "When he gets on base he can wreak havoc with the best of them."
The Blue Jays were pretty much "havoc-less" most of the night. They didn't put together a string of hard-hit balls until the ninth inning. Frank Thomas drove Gathright to the warning track with a towering drive to left. Glaus followed with his gap double. Gathright finished his highlight-film night when he ended the game by reaching over the wall and making a catch to rob Aaron Hill of a two-run homer.
The Blue Jays continue to have their troubles on the road. While the team stands 35-22 at Rogers Centre, it has stumbled to a 23-35 record south of the border. They get two more chances for wins in Kansas City before returning for a nine-game homestand.
"Everything we're shooting for is still within grasp," Zaun said. "We're not going to let one game change the good feeling we've had in this clubhouse for the last two or three weeks."
Max Utsler is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.