Royals finish opening month with 9-game skid, look to bounce back

The Kansas City Royals hope May treats them better -- because it can't get much worse than their April performance.

The Royals expected to bounce back after a subpar and injury-plagued 2016 season and return to the form that launched them to consecutive World Series appearances in 2014 and 2015.

Instead, they go into the campaign's second month on a nine-game skid, the team's longest since a 12-game losing streak in April 2012.

"You don't anticipate that," Royals skipper Ned Yost said Sunday after his team's 7-5 loss to the Minnesota Twins. "You don't anticipate getting off to this type of start."

The Royals will begin May in last place in the American League Central, six-and-a-half games behind the first-place Cleveland Indians.

"It's just been tough," center fielder Lorenzo Cain said. "It's tough to go through a stretch like this, especially when I know we're better than what we're playing.

"What can you do? Keep playing, keep battling. Hopefully we can come out of this.''

The Royals finished April with a major-league-worst 63 runs scored, their lowest total in a non-strike-shortened calendar month since April 1992, when the team went 3-17.

"We all know that [we're better]," left fielder Alex Gordon said. "That's why everyone is so mad right now and so frustrated ... We know we can do a lot better."

Jason Hammel, a top offseason addition for the Royals, failed to get out of the fourth for his second straight start. He allowed five runs and six hits with three walks.

"I'm making the same mistakes, basically walks,'' Hammel said. "I've got to clean up the walks. I'm throwing too many pitches per at-bat. Full counts every at-bat. Seventy pitches through three innings; that's just not acceptable, so I've got to clean up the mistakes."

The former Chicago Cubs starter signed a two-year, $12 million contract to bolster the Royals' rotation in the wake of the tragic death of starter Yordano Ventura.

After Sunday's performance, Hammel's ERA climbed to 6.65.

"It's ridiculous. It's amateur stuff that I'm doing right now, just trying to do too much,'' Hammel said.

The Royals open May by hosting division rivals the Chicago White Sox for four games and the Indians for a three-game set.

"It's a long season," second baseman Whit Merrifield said. "And there's a lot of baseball left to be played. This is a really good team. Regardless of how April was, it's a really good team."