TORONTO — The Canadian Flag patches on their uniforms may have helped ingratiate the Royals to the Toronto crowd on Canada Day, but it didn't protect them from a relentless offensive onslaught.
The Royals got walloped by the Toronto Blue Jays 11-4 in front of an announced 29,339 in the finale of their four-game series at the Rogers Centre Monday afternoon.
The Royals (29-56) avoided a series sweep with Sunday's win but leave Canada having dropped three of four games.
The pregame festivities included members of multiple branches of Canadian armed forces, including a group of search and rescue personnel, repelling down from the roof of the stadium to deliver a Canadian flag, as well as a flag unfurled by armed forces members that covered almost the entire outfield for the national anthem.
Then came the fireworks.
The Blue Jays scored in five of the first six innings on their way to a season-high 18 hits, including three home runs off Royals starting pitcher Glenn Sparkman. The Blue Jays (32-53) hit 12 home runs in the series.
"This American League East with Boston and the Yankees, this team — they've got a bunch of really young good-looking hitters — they're going to punish you if your command is not good," Royals manager Ned Yost said.
"They're going to hammer you. It's just a tough division, it's always been a slugger's division with guys that can really swing the bats well. If you make mistakes, they're going to capitalize on it."
Whit Merrifield (2-for-4, RBI) and Hunter Dozier (2-for-3, run scored) registered two hits apiece in the loss. Humberto Arteaga, Jorge Soler and Cheslor Cuthbert also drove in runs. Those runs felt like just a drop in the bucket after the floodgates opened early for their counterparts.
The Blue Jays scored the first eight runs of the game.
"I just really didn't have good command of anything, and they jumped it," Sparkman said. "There's not much to say."
Sparkman's woes involving the home run continued. He'd entered the day having allowed 10 home runs this season, but seven had come in his previous four starts. Last week in Cleveland, he gave up three in 5 2/3 innings.
This time around, Sparkman gave up the same number of homers without providing the innings he had in his last outing.
Sparkman pitched three innings and allowed a season-high eight runs on a season-high nine hits — three home runs (two by Freddy Galvis) — one walk and one strikeout.
Two of the three home runs came on the first pitch, a clear sign that the Blue Jays recognized Sparkman was regularly leaving pitches up and/or over the heart of the plate.
Sparkman's command issues in this outing weren't exclusive to one pitch. The three home runs came on a fastball, curveball and changeup.
"Last start coming into this one, I had a little bit better command of my fastball," Sparkman said. "The fastball was a little in and out. I just really didn't command it as well as I needed to. I left a changeup up again. Curveball up a little, and the fastball was middle."
He'd made it through the first inning with two runs allowed, on a ground-out and a two-out RBI single by Randal Grichuk.
But the Blue Jays were just getting warmed up. They pummeled Sparkman with a five-run second inning — the second straight game with a five-run inning for the Jays _ including back-to-back home runs by Teoscar Hernandez and Galvis to start the inning.
Galvis' two-out third-inning solo homer accounted for the eighth run given up by Sparkman, but it didn't spell the end of the scoring spree.
The Blue Jays scored in each of the first four innings, including a pair of fourth-inning runs against left-handed reliever Brian Flynn.
Flynn pitched four innings and allowed three runs on seven hits. Wily Peralta pitched a scoreless eighth inning.