KANSAS CITY, Mo. (TNS) — The season is shaping to be the worst in Royals franchise history in terms of losses, the general manager has expressed personal embarrassment, and the team is likely to lose more money than it has in at least a decade.
It could be worse.
Need proof? Just take a look inside the visiting dugout at Kauffman Stadium this weekend. Because for as poorly as 2018 has progressed for the Royals, the Baltimore Orioles have set the bar for ineptitude. And it was on full display Sunday.
The Royals completed a sweep of the Orioles, emerging with a 9-1 win Sunday and extending their season-long winning streak to five.
The Royals (45-91) have won three straight series and swept two of them. They were 7-1 on the homestand and scored at least five runs in all eight games at Kauffman.
"Lot of energy out there," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "We need to try to finish off the year on a good note, and we continue to strive toward that."
A week ago, the Royals had not yet captured back-to-back series in 2018.
Perhaps just not enough dates with Baltimore. The Orioles (40-97), owners of the worst record in baseball, made a comedy of errors in one sequence Sunday, a trio of throwing miscues that gifted the Royals base after base after base in a three-run third inning.
The Royals didn't really need that much help. They had 14 hits, the lineup lengthening a string of production that was vacant during the middle of the summer.
And then there was Jorge Lopez. In his last start, Lopez bottomed out after three innings, losing the command of his fastball and failing to record outs as he tried to navigate a lineup the second time through.
His start Sunday was taken up a notch. He extended it to a career-high seven innings to pick up his first win since Sept. 29, 2015.
"When I have my fastball, you can see (how) different I am," Lopez said, later adding. "That was the strongest outing I've had all year. I'm thankful and can't wait for the next one."
Lopez struck out six of the initial nine hitters he faced, his only hiccup a Jonathan Villar solo home run in the first. He froze four hitters on strike three. Lopez struck out eight for the game and walked none over his 99-pitch start, another career-high. He allowed one run on five hits.
"He really utilized his fastball _ pitched off his fastball, established his fastball," Yost said. "And he pitched off it with his changeups, sliders, curveballs. But the fastball was the key for him today. He was filling up the zone. He was ahead in the count. Just an outstanding game for him."
His battery mate was making his MLB debut. Meibrys Viloria collected his first hit in the eighth inning, a two-run single complete with a bat flip that produced two runs and yet another miscue when catcher Caleb Joseph failed to gather a throw that beat Alcides Escobar to the plate.
"It was a beautiful thing," Viloria said through a translator. "Thank God that I was able to get it in my last at-bat."
A day after a walk-off home run, Royals leadoff hitter Whit Merrifield reached base safely for the 22nd straight game, a career-high. He stole his 30th base, tied for the American League lead. Alex Gordon and Escobar had three hits apiece.