Blue Jays drop sixth straight
Marcum goes seven, but offense struggles in KC
KANSAS CITY -- It has been a road trip which has left Blue Jays manager John Gibbons virtually speechless. Five games against the Rays and Royals, and no victories.
There was little wonder why, after Toronto's frustrating 2-1 setback on Saturday night in Kansas City, Gibbons didn't belabor the obvious for those who gathered around him with pens and microphones.
"It was a game we could have and should have won," Gibbons said. "I don't have much more to say than that. All right?"
With that, Gibbons' postgame media session came to an abrupt conclusion. It was left to the players to try to make sense of an offensive drought that is reaching alarming proportions.
Missed-opportunity syndrome doomed the Jays yet again, as Toronto went 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position and let the Royals hang around until Jose Guillen's solo homer in the sixth snapped a 1-1 tie and sent Toronto stumbling to its sixth consecutive defeat.
"I don't know that I've been on a team where it's top to bottom," center fielder Vernon Wells said. "It seems like everybody is just a tick off. We have guys taking good swings, but popping balls straight up or hitting balls straight into the ground."
The Jays kept missing chances to take charge of the game against Royals rookie Luke Hochevar, who was made his second start of the year after being knocked around last Sunday in Oakland.
The third and fourth innings typified how things have been going for Toronto as of late. In each inning, the Jays got a man to third with one out, but couldn't get him home in either frame. Toronto needs a sacrifice fly like a man in the desert needs water.
The Royals finally broke through against Jays starter Shaun Marcum with a run-scoring single by Ross Gload in the fourth. Even when the Jays forged a brief 1-1 tie in the fifth, it was largely a case of opportunity lost.
A leadoff double by Gregg Zaun was followed by a productive at-bat from David Eckstein. Determined to move the runner over, Eckstein fouled off several pitches to the right side before finally singling to right.
However, the Jays again bogged down just when things looked promising, as Hochevar retired Aaron Hill with a strikeout. An error by Tony Pena on a Rios grounder enabled the tying run to score, but then Wells bounced into a double play to end the inning.
The Royals went ahead for good in the sixth when Guillen homered to left off Marcum.
"It was a hanging slider," Marcum said. "He did what he's supposed to do with it, so you have to tip your hat to him."
Marcum grew up in the Kansas City area and took the mound with a two-pronged mission of trying to help Toronto stop its slide while also entertaining family and friends.
"I left 20 tickets, and I'm sure there were others scattered through the stands," said Marcum, who allowed just four hits through seven innings.
When the Jays' new left fielder, Adam Lind, finally did break the mold by hitting the ball sharply with the bases loaded in the eighth, Toronto was still held back by a brilliant defensive play by Pena, the Kansas City shortstop.
Matched against reliever Ramon Ramirez, the left-handed-hitting Lind -- who was called up on Saturday -- made a bid for instant heroism. But it was not to be, as his sharp grounder was fielder by a sliding Pena. From his knees, Pena's strong throw retired Lind and set the stage for Kansas City closer Joakim Soria to record his sixth save.
"Just a wonderful play," Kansas City manager Trey Hillman said of Pena's gem. "He's got [great plays] in there on any given day."
Another swarm of baserunners, another empty feeling for the Jays, who left 11 stranded.
"We're doing half the job and not finishing it," Wells said. "A lot of us are just dumbfounded by what's going on. Sometimes you get in a situation where you want to get the whole team out of it. You just have to forget about what has happened and start over tomorrow."
Robert Falkoff is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.