Royals' bats silent in series opener

Royals' bats silent in opener

KANSAS CITY -- Kevin Slowey was trouble again for the Royals, but that just comes naturally for the Twins.

Just send Minnesota onto the field, and Kansas City's chances grow dim. With a 4-1 loss Friday night, the Royals' record against the Northlanders this season fell to 2-8.

So a lovely evening -- the temperature eased from 83 to 77 degrees as the game went along -- was spoiled for Kansas City and their fans, among the 33,653 that piled into Kauffman Stadium for fireworks, Buck Night and interesting baseball.

Slowey is the 24-year-old Texan who mesmerized the Royals in a complete-game victory on May 29. That happened to be the Major League debut for Royals shortstop Mike Aviles, who went hitless against the right-hander.

"He's just one of those pitchers that doesn't have anything overpowering," Aviles said. "He just throws strikes, comes at you, mixes his speeds and has variations on each pitch."

This time, Aviles had two of his four hits against Slowey and also scored the Royals' only run on David DeJesus' single.

"We didn't get the big hit when we needed it," manager Trey Hillman said. "We got the big hit to load the bases, obviously, there in the ninth inning, but we were still lacking one big hit."

Every one of the game's 17 hits was a single -- a rather odd circumstance -- and it was Mark Teahen's single that filled the sacks in the ninth against Twins closer Joe Nathan. He's only blown three saves all season, and one came May 27 in Kansas City on Teahen's game-tying three-run inside-the-park homer.

So here was another chance. Two outs, bases jammed and DeJesus coming up with the Majors' best average with runners in scoring position (.443, 31-for-70).

"We were thinking a walk-off," Teahen said.

Well, make that 31-for-71 for DeJesus. He bounced Nathan's first pitch up the middle, where it was intercepted by shortstop Adam Everett. He stomped on second base and the game was over.

That was just one of the Royals' several uncashed chances. It was just 3-1 in the seventh when the left-handed Teahen came up with runners at second and third and two out. There was a battle with left-hander Dennys Reyes, the ex-Royal, that went eight pitches and reached a full count.

Teahen watched strike three zip past.

"That was actually the most hittable pitch of that whole at-bat," Teahen said. "But every pitch to that point had been breaking away from me. So when he finally threw the four-seamer straight, it just froze me."

If it had been the first pitch, he'd have jumped all over it. Reyes just threw it when it was least expected.

"I should have hit it," Teahen said ruefully.

Royals starter Kyle Davies, who'd been making solid progress with his command problems, suffered a relapse. He walked the bases full in the second, but managed to escape unscathed.

The third inning was a different story. He walked two more, gave up three hits and three runs and, with just one out, was excused by Hillman.

"[I] can't explain it, [he] just couldn't locate pitches," Hillman said.

Davies gave it a try.

"I was probably thinking a little too much instead of get it-throw it, get it-throw it," he said.

Anyway, reliever Joel Peralta picked up the job nicely and gave the Royals 3 1/3 scoreless innings. It was his longest outing in the Majors, and one of his most satisfying.

"He did a real job of keeping us in it and giving us a chance," Hillman said.

Slowey went 5 2/3 innings and, for the ninth time in 18 starts, he did not walk a batter. The Royals were patient enough, though, to work Slowey up to 98 pitches. A string of five Twins relievers combined to shut out the Royals the rest of the way.

"They missed some opportunities, and I know we missed some early." Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said, "So, like always with us and the Royals, it made for an entertaining game at the end."

As usual, however, the Twins were taking the bows when the entertainment was over.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.