The Kansas City Royals have reached that unwanted century mark.
And they did it in a most unusual way.
The Royals fell 5-2 to the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon, their 100th defeat of the 2023 season. The game featured a collection of oddities that ultimately led to a familiar result — a KC loss — at the Rogers Centre.
KC sits 44-100 with 18 games remaining this season. The Royals have lost 100 or more games seven times in their franchise history. Each dismal campaign has come since the 2002 season.
In the last six years, the Royals have produced three 100-loss seasons.
The 2023 Royals are not done yet and they’re trending toward the wrong end of history. They are six losses shy of tying the franchise record for most defeats, set in 2005 (56-106).
“If we’ve got to change some things, do it this last month and try build into next year,” Royals shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. said.
So how did the Royals get here?
Sunday’s game was a microcosm of their season-long misfortunes. The Royals led the Blue Jays 2-0 in the sixth inning with emerging ace Cole Ragans on the mound.
Ragans needed a shutdown frame. The Royals had taken the lead in the sixth, but he had the dubious task of facing the Blue Jays’ lineup a third time.
Ragans got two quick outs but walked the next three batters and threw three consecutive wild pitches that allowed the Blue Jays to tie the game.
“He caught a spike twice and then just lost feel for the ball (on) those other two pitches,” Quatraro said. “It’s a complete outlier and I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s something we are just going to move on from.”
On Sunday, the Royals failed to recover.
Toronto surged ahead with three additional runs to earn the series sweep. Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier dealt the major blow with a solo home run in the seventh inning.
The Royals tallied eight hits but could only plate two runs against Blue Jays starter Jose Berrios. He struck out seven batters in seven innings.
“You feel like you have to try to expand against these guys because they have such a good lineup,” Quatraro said. “That’s what we needed to try to do. We weren’t able to do that.”
The Royals loaded the bases in the ninth inning, but Blue Jays closer Jordan Romano shut the door.
KC next heads to Chicago to begin a three-game series against the Chicago White Sox on Monday.
Missed previous games of the series?
Here are more notables from Sunday’s game:
Royals manufacture 2 runs in 6th inning
It took a while for the Royals’ offense to get going.
Fans were treated to a pitcher’s duel between Ragans and Berrios for five innings. Each side had just one hit as Sunday’s game moved at a frenetic pace.
Things changed in the sixth inning.
Royals outfielder Kyle Isbel hit a leadoff triple to spark a two-run rally. Witt later hit an RBI double to give the Royals the lead. He also stole third base and scored following Salvador Perez’s RBI groundout.
— Bally Sports Kansas City (@BallySportsKC) September 10, 2023
“Izzy had a great at-bat and had a triple there,” Witt said. “I was trying to put together a good at-bat and try to get him in.”
The two-run lead would be short lived. The Blue Jays overcame the deficit by scoring three runs down the stretch.
Royals’ Ragans struggles with command
Ragans had a tough afternoon at the office.
The reigning AL Pitcher of the Month struggled with his command. He allowed a career-high six walks in 5 2/3 innings alongside his three wild pitches.
“Command was pretty shaky,” Ragans said. “I felt like I made some good pitches and got out of a few jams. Overall, the command just wasn’t very good.”
Ragans threw 60 of 105 pitches for strikes. He surrendered two runs and limited the Blue Jays to one hit.
But Ragans walked three consecutive Jays in the sixth. He appeared to struggle with his footing. The umpires came out to inspect the mound before Ragans continued.
“On my lead leg, the bottom of my cleat caught the dirt and basically it tripped me,” Ragans said. “So then I have no footing to throw the ball.”
Ragans then got a flyout from former Royals star Whit Merrifield to end the inning. Ragans recorded six strikeouts on the afternoon. He generated 16 whiffs and 11 called strikes.
What’s next: The Royals begin a three-game series against the Chicago White Sox on Monday night at Guaranteed Rate Field.