Royals roll past Rays 8-3 to finish off 4-game sweep
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Jarrod Dyson did his best impression of Alex Gordon with his glove. Lorenzo Cain and Salvador Perez did the same with their bats.
Along with a strong return from the disabled list for right-hander Yordano Ventura, the Kansas City Royals proved with an 8-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday that they could be just fine without their injured star outfielder.
''We do have a confident team here,'' Royals manager Ned Yost said. ''We think we can get through these things. We think we have the ability to overcome these things.''
Earlier in the day, the Royals announced that Gordon would miss at least eight weeks with a several strained groin muscle. Even in the best-case scenario, that would put his return at some point in September, when the Royals hope to be in the thick of the playoff chase.
In the meantime, they'll have to do without him.
''Next guy in line has to step up. That's it,'' said Dyson, who started in Gordon's place and made a spectacular over-the-shoulder catch at the wall in left to set the tone in the first inning.
Ventura (4-6) allowed three runs and four hits and three walks, striking out four. It was his first start since June 12, when an elbow condition began causing numbness in his hand.
''My arm felt good,'' he said through a translator. ''It was strong.''
Eric Hosmer, Cheslor Cuthbert and Kendrys Morales also drove in runs off Nathan Karns (4-5), the latest Rays starter to get pummeled by Kansas City. The Royals scored at least seven runs in every game of their first four-game sweep since September 2008, against Seattle.
Meanwhile, the Rays were swept in a four-game set for the second time in two weeks, after Cleveland did it June 29-July 2. Tampa Bay has lost 11 of 12 overall.
''It's just one of those parts of the season that no one can really figure out why we're there and how we've got here,'' Karns said, ''but we're here.''
Even without Gordon's hot bat in the lineup, the Royals struck first for the first time during their eight games this homestand. Hosmer doubled home Alcides Escobar in the first inning, and Cain followed with his two-run shot into the stands in left field.
All three runs were scored in the first five pitches.
The Royals tacked on another run in the second when Cuthbert tripled to right.
Ventura was cruising along through four innings, shutting out Tampa Bay - which had not scored a single run to support Karns in his past three starts.
But the Rays finally broke through in the fifth when David DeJesus and Asdrubal Cabrera strung together hits and Kevin Kiermaier and Rene Rivera walked to force in a run. John Jaso and Grady Sizemore added sacrifice flies to get Tampa Bay within 4-3.
The Royals answered with three runs in the bottom half. Morales hit a sacrifice fly to deep center, and Perez lined his two-run shot into the bullpen in left.
Karns allowed six runs and nine hits in six innings, the latest in a string of lousy Tampa Bay starts. Matt Moore and Matt Andriese failed to make it five innings the first two games of the series, and Chris Archer allowed a career-high nine runs Wednesday night.
Kansas City piled up 33 runs total in the four-game set, more than the reigning AL champions had scored in their previous 10 games combined.
''No excuse, `cause sometimes you've got to make your own break,'' Rays manager Kevin Cash said. ''It hasn't been going well for us, obviously. We've had times throughout the season where it has and now it's not going that well. We need to get home and hopefully change that around.''
SHH, KEEP QUIET
Cain was ejected prior to the eighth inning for arguing balls and strikes from the dugout. It was his second ejection of the season. Paulo Orlando replaced him in the lineup.
Rays: Jaso came off the DL for the series opener and went 7 for 12 with a pair of walks. He had been out since the first week of the season with a bruised wrist.
Royals: LHP Jason Vargas (left flexor strain) will make a rehab start for Double-A Northwest Arkansas on Monday. The plan is to activate him from the DL after the All-Star break.
Rays: RHP Erasmo Ramirez will start against Houston on Friday night.
Royals: LHP Danny Duffy will be on the mound against Toronto on Friday night.