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Royals' playoff appearance years in the making for some fans -9/30/2014, 10:34 AM

Chiefs offense gets rolling in rout -9/30/2014, 10:31 AM

California has four teams in the playoffs for the first time -9/30/2014, 10:31 AM

TMP golf finishes third at Hoisington meet -9/30/2014, 10:35 AM

Monarchs move to 14-10 -9/30/2014, 10:30 AM

Big 12 coaches react to firing -9/30/2014, 10:21 AM

HHS volleyball goes 2-3 in Newton -9/29/2014, 10:27 AM

HHS tennis places third at Garden City Invitational -9/29/2014, 4:16 PM

Tiger tennis finishes fall season 5-2 -9/29/2014, 10:27 AM

MNF for Chiefs -9/29/2014, 10:27 AM

Royals' starters rest in win -9/29/2014, 10:26 AM

KU shows Weis the door -9/29/2014, 10:26 AM

Jayhawks take the conservative route in their loss to Texas -9/28/2014, 9:43 AM

FHSU soccer cruises past SW Baptist -9/28/2014, 7:03 PM

Victoria takes advantage for close win at Ness -9/28/2014, 1:14 AM

Plainville grabs first win, beats TMP -9/28/2014, 7:02 PM

Area prep football roundup: Otis-Bison, Kinsley set record -9/28/2014, 7:02 PM

Wildcats roll -9/28/2014, 7:02 PM

Delton, HHS run past Garden City -9/28/2014, 7:02 PM

Tiger women's soccer picks up 1-0 win at Southern -9/28/2014, 7:02 PM

Tiger women's XC wins at Emporia State -9/27/2014, 7:12 PM

Kansas City clinches first playoff berth since 1985 -9/27/2014, 7:02 PM

Tigers take down No. 8 Pitt State -9/27/2014, 6:53 PM

Kansas linebacker Jake Love lives on instincts -9/26/2014, 11:06 AM

Like old times, Kansas State takes pride in stuffing the run -9/26/2014, 10:57 AM

FHSU women fall 2-1 -9/26/2014, 10:23 AM

Big win for Tiger soccer -9/26/2014, 10:46 AM

Tough test for Tiger football -9/26/2014, 10:23 AM

Hays High, TMP move to 4A -9/26/2014, 10:24 AM

One more win and Royals are in -9/26/2014, 10:47 AM

HHS XC second at McPherson meet -9/26/2014, 10:25 AM

Indian soccer snaps skid -9/26/2014, 10:47 AM

HHS golf clinches share of WAC title -9/26/2014, 10:48 AM

Monarchs, Cardinals seek first win -9/25/2014, 10:13 AM

Royals drop game at Cleveland -9/25/2014, 10:26 AM

UTEP football coach Sean Kugler hopes to build a program that can emulate Kansas State -9/25/2014, 10:13 AM

Indians hit the road -9/25/2014, 10:13 AM

Giants, Redskins trying to avoid steeper climb in East -9/25/2014, 10:13 AM

KVA prep volleybal rankings, Sept. 24 -9/24/2014, 10:26 AM

HHS soccer falls at Great Bend -9/24/2014, 10:26 AM

HHS takes third at Salina South Invitational -9/24/2014, 10:26 AM

No. 8 Washburn too much for Tigers -9/24/2014, 10:28 AM

Tiger defense continues to get stronger -9/24/2014, 10:29 AM

Two wins for TMP volleyball -9/24/2014, 10:27 AM

TMP soccer rolls to win -9/24/2014, 10:29 AM

Ventura dominates Indians as Royals push for postseason -9/24/2014, 10:28 AM

Sports Scores

Tuesday

Prep basketball

Boys

Atwood 76, St. Francis 65

Dighton 62, Oberlin 47

Hillsboro 50, Goodland 47

Lakeside 42, Lincoln 32

Minneapolis 68, Russell 35

Rock Hills 42, Natoma 37

Salina Central 62, Andover 58

Salina South 62, Sacred Heart 47

Sharon Springs 75, Leoti 38

St. John's Beloit-Tipton 57, Osborne 34

Sylvan-Lucas 61, Thunder Ridge 48

Girls

Dighton 44, Atwood 11

Dodge City 71, Hays High 28

Hesston 51, Goodland 18

Hoisington 60, Victoria 46

Hoxie 65, St. Francis 13

Lincoln 33, Lakeside 26

Minneapolis 47, Otis-Bison 24

Osborne 59, Wilson 34

Sharon Springs 63, Oberlin 42

Sylvan-Lucas 43, Natoma 41 (ot)

Tescott 41, Rock Hills 33

Trego 56, Leoti 27

Thunder Ridge 33, St. John's Beloit-Tipton 30

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SPOTLIGHT
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Royals get swept in Boston

Published on -7/21/2014, 10:10 AM

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By Andy McCullough

McClatchy-Tribune

The eyes of Alex Gordon watered as he choked down a bite of apple. A coughing fit had interrupted him as he considered a 6-0 Royals loss, a three-game sweep by the Boston Red Sox and a return to a sub-.500 record. When he resumed speaking, bile flowed from his mouth, the only sound of distress inside the otherwise milquetoast clubhouse of a third-place team.

"It's frustrating, but we deserve it the way we've been playing," Gordon said. "After losing two tough games, you think we'd come out with a little more intensity and energy. But we didn't. That's not how good teams play. We need to look in the mirror and figure it out."

The reflection does not appear pretty, not for a club projected to snap Kansas City's 29 -- year playoff drought. Nipped for one-run losses the previous two nights at Fenway Park, the Royals, 48-49, looked lifeless for Sunday's coda. Jon Lester bullied them during eight spotless innings. Yordano Ventura combusted for one of the worst performances of his career, yielding a career-high six runs in 4.1 innings.

And the Royals continued their slide. Since their 10-game winning streak last month ended, the team has dropped 17 of 26. The sands fall in the season's hourglass each day, only 65 games remain in the season, and the prospect of October looks bleaker and bleaker.

On camera, manager Ned Yost maintains his composure. But Sunday's result compelled him to address his players before boarding a flight to Chicago to face White Sox ace Chris Sale on Monday. The meeting lasted about five minutes. His tone was stern but not fiery, according to people in the room.

"He said what needed to be said," Gordon said.

With reporters a short while later, Yost grasped for optimism. He credited Lester for an outstanding performance. He stressed "the world is not coming to an end." His faith in his players cannot be publicly broken, even if at times that faith has gone unrewarded.

"I'm not taking the negative route and worrying that things are slipping away," Yost said. "We'll get it going."

He has espoused these platitudes before. Billy Butler and Eric Hosmer offered similar praise for Lester, a three-time All-Star. It was left to Gordon to provide a critical take on the situation.

"We can't put ourselves in too big of a hole," Gordon said. "We need to take every day as the last day. Because if Detroit keeps winning, and other teams keep winning, and we keep putting ourselves in the hole, it's going to be too late."

Despite idyllic conditions at Fenway Park, the weekend ended in dreary fashion. Yost bungled his bullpen management Friday, which led to a loss. The offense no-showed for Saturday's defeat. On Sunday, the starting pitcher joined the absentee list.

"We didn't really do a lot well this weekend," Butler said.

Before the game, the players settled into their familiar routines. Greg Holland and Aaron Crow peered at their crossword puzzles. Lorenzo Cain and Jarrod Dyson discussed strategy in the iPad game "Clash of Clans." Danny Duffy bobbed his head to a Lady Gaga song piping out of his phone.

Inside the manager's office, the discontent was more evident. A strained groin muscle had felled catcher Salvador Perez, and the threadbare lineup lost a key contributor for the day.

"What can you do?" Yost said, laughing, flummoxed by his offense's inability to ignite in 2014.

"It's consistently inconsistent. We go and play (and it's like), 'Man, here we go.' And then we go through stretches it's like 'Man, are we ever going to score a run?'"

The missed opportunities vexed him, and the lack of fundamental execution disturbed him. The team struggles to hit with runners in scoring position. During this series in Boston, they've failed to even make productive outs in those situations.

"We're not playing good situational offensive baseball," he said.

Yost cannot discern the root of the troubles. Is it the vagaries of youth?

"We've said that for years and years," he said. "That's kind of a tired excuse."

The coaches? The team already switched hitting instructors in May.

"There's nothing we can do to prepare them better," Yost said on Friday. "We've got the best coaching staff in baseball."

Thus the burden falls on the players, no longer considered neophytes, to produce. They failed to do so on Sunday. Lester operated with ease. He struck out eight and scattered four hits. The Royals did not advance a runner to third base until the sixth inning.

By then, the outing was all but decided. In the third inning, Ventura explained afterward, his command evaporated. He walked catcher David Ross and gave up a single to rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. Two batters later, Daniel Nava hooked a two-run double into the right field corner.

At this point, considering Lester's dominance, the outcome looked just about decided. Ross removed all doubt in the fourth when Ventura fed him a 97-mph fastball at the waist, and Ross boomed it over The Green Monster for a two-run shot.

"Fastball down the middle," Ventura said. "A little bit up. Good swing."

Ventura gave up another run, but Yost left him to labor through the fifth. Ventura loaded the bases with two walks and a single before reliever Francisley Bueno helped the Royals escape the jam and protected Ventura's sullied ledger.

Ventura matched a career high with nine hits allowed. Sunday marked the first time he did not strike out a batter in a start since a game on July 2, 2009, in the Dominican Summer League.

Ventura did not appear perturbed. He vowed to return stronger for his next start. In that sense, he echoed the sentiments of Gordon, his two-time All Star left fielder. To Gordon, the time for rhetoric has ceased.

"We do have the talent," Gordon said. "But we need to show it on the field. Right now, these last three games, we haven't. So then it's all talk."

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