Double plays squelch Jays' chances

Double plays squelch Jays' chances

KANSAS CITY -- Cito Gaston knew this was coming. The Blue Jays manager kept saying that sooner or later his club would lose two in a row. Well, he doesn't have to say it anymore. The Blue Jays lost consecutive games for the first time, falling, 8-6, to the Royals Thursday at Kauffman Stadium.

All it took was a subpar outing from starting pitcher Brian Burres and an offense that tied a club record by grounding into six double plays in nine innings.

"I always talk about how much we win as a team," Gaston said. "We sure lost as a team today."

Burres' poor performance didn't help -- he lasted just two-plus innings, allowing four earned runs and six overall -- but it was the half-dozen double plays that really deflated a Toronto club that hadn't lost a series all year. That streak, of course, is gone, too. The Royals took the four-game set, 3-1.

"It's a lot of double plays," Blue Jays center fielder Vernon Wells said. "Obviously, it stops rallies and things like that. It stops things from getting going. It was frustrating for everyone."

It was the most double plays the Blue Jays had hit into in a nine-inning game. The last time Toronto grounded into six was in 10 innings on August 29, 1977, against Minnesota.

The Blue Jays had plenty of chances to take control of the game in the early innings, as Royals starting pitcher Kyle Davies grinded through the first four frames. But each time the Blue Jays put runners on base, a double play thwarted a run-scoring rally.

The Blue Jays grounded into doubles plays in each of the first four innings, added another one in the seventh, and added their sixth in the eighth after they had closed the lead to 8-6.

"It's huge because you get two outs on one pitch, you're able to stay in the game longer," said Davies, who earned his second win of the year by allowing three runs in 5 2/3 innings. "You get those two quick outs and they never have a chance to get the big inning, and I think that's what helped us to stay on top there. They never had the chance to get the big inning."

The Royals never had a big inning, either. But they had enough small innings to put a big number in the runs column.

After the Blue Jays took an early lead with a Marco Scutaro leadoff homer in the top of the first, the Royals answered quickly in the bottom half of the inning with a leadoff triple from Coco Crisp and an RBI groundout from Willie Bloomquist, tying the game, 1-1.

The Blue Jays threatened again in the top half of the second. Adam Lind and Kevin Millar lead off the inning with consecutive singles to center field. But Toronto had to settle for one run on an RBI single from Raul Chavez after a Jose Bautista double play killed the rally before it could develop.

"We certainly had some chances to win a game or two here, but we didn't take advantage of it," Gaston said.

With the Blue Jays missing opportunities and stranding baserunners, the Royals made Burres pay with two runs in the second.

When Burres ran into trouble again in the third -- because of an error at first by Millar -- his night was over. He exited with nobody out in the inning and was replaced by Brian Bullington. Between Burres and Bullington, the Royals tacked on three runs (two earned) in the third, sending eight men to the plate and taking control of the game, 6-2.

Kansas City added two more runs in the fifth off Bullington, but the Blue Jays clawed back from an 8-2 deficit and cut the lead to 8-6 in the bottom of the eighth when, with Wells on first, Lind sent a pitch from reliever Jamey Wright deep into the fountains beyond the right-field wall for a two-run homer.

"They kept battling," Gaston said, "and I give them credit for that."

Wright, however, ended the inning when he got Chavez to ground into the record-tying double play.

"We hit into six double plays," Gaston said. "It's really hard to win a ballgame when you still score six runs, and you still hit into six double plays."

The Blue Jays went quietly against reliever Juan Cruz in the ninth.

"We'll pack up and get back to Toronto," said Gaston, whose club finished 3-4 on its road trip and 15-9 in April. [We'll] see if we can't start all over again and get it going again."

Rustin Dodd is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.