09/05/07 2:13 AM ET
Problems add up in Royals' loss
Gload injury, LaRue miscue, short start by Buckner does in KC
By Conor Nicholl / MLB.com
Gload, though, is the biggest long-term problem for the Royals. On Monday, manager Buddy Bell called Gload the team's "best player for awhile," a player who has hit .346 with 20 RBIs in his last 37 games.
Down 8-7 in the eighth inning, and with runners on first and third, Gload ripped a hard grounder up the middle. The ball glanced off Joaquin Benoit's glove and rolled to Ian Kinsler at second base.
Kinsler picked up the ground ball and threw to second for the force play. Gload nearly beat Michael Young's relay to first and his foot slid across the rain-soaked bag. When his foot hit the wet dirt, he hyperextended his knee and fell to the ground in obvious pain.
"That is always something that you have to be aware of when the conditions get like this," Bell said.
Gload spent several minutes on the field with team personnel before Alex Gordon moved to first base. Gload was unavailable for comment after the game and Bell said he didn't know how much time Gload would miss.
The seventh inning featured one of the game's turning points. Tied at 6, Kinsler started the inning with an infield single that barely rolled past reliever Leo Nunez. Jason Smith gloved the ball, but couldn't catch Kinsler.
Young followed with a single to left. Then, Texas pulled off a double steal and Jason LaRue's throw skipped past Gordon and into left field for an error.
"You have to be expecting anything," Gordon said. "They didn't catch it off guard, I just missed the ball. It just hit my glove and rolled off."
Bell called the mistake a team error.
"If it is a good throw he is out, that's the first thing," Bell said. "Second thing, is you can't allow that ball to go into left field. Third thing is that you have to pay more attention to the runner. The fourth thing is the infielder has to pay more attention to him.
"We should probably have said something to the infielders to say something to the pitcher. It always looks like there was one guy involved in the play, but the whole team is involved in something like that. You can blame it on whoever you want. Lack of concentration on everybody's part."
Buckner, though, put the Royals in an early hole. Making his third big league appearance, he allowed five first-inning runs and finished with six runs in four innings.
"When you are in hitters' counts, it doesn't matter what level you are at, it could be A-ball, the hitters are going to make you pay," he said. "I left a few balls up and they hit it out of the park."
Buckner allowed four extra-base hits in the first inning, including two homers. He rarely threw his signature out-pitch, a 12-to-6 spike curveball. Bell said Buckner became more aggressive after the first, but the inning put KC in an early hole.
"I didn't really get a chance to really use my curveball because I was behind," Buckner said. "I didn't get a chance to establish my fastball and when you can't use all of your pitches, you are going to be in trouble."
The Royals, down 6-1 after two innings, scored three in the fourth on a homer from Jason Smith. The hit continued a career-long statistical oddity for Smith. He has hit 16 career homers and 15 of them have come on the road. Smith also tied a career high with four RBIs. Kansas City tied the game with two more runs in the fifth.
However, the team error helped Texas regain the lead, a lead the Rangers wouldn't relinquish. KC scored a run in the eighth, but Texas came back with one in the bottom of the inning.
"That was the toughest one of the night, I thought," Bell said.
It proved costly.
With one on and two out in the ninth, Billy Butler and Esteban German hit back-to-back singles that cut the lead to 9-8. Tony Pena, pinch-hitting for Shane Costa, grounded into a forceout to end the game.
Conor Nicholl is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.