Given the injuries that have decimated the Toronto Blue Jays' rotation, the last thing they need is for their opening day starter to have trouble finding the plate.
Ricky Romero hopes a return to Rogers Centre, where he hasn't lost in nearly a year, helps solve his control problems Monday night as the Blue Jays open a four-game series with the Kansas City Royals .
The left-hander remains healthy after 60 percent of Toronto's rotation went on the disabled list in June, but Romero's recent performances haven't left the Blue Jays (40-39) feeling good.
He has allowed at least four runs in each of his last seven starts, and the issue lately has been control. Romero (8-2, 4.94 ERA) has walked 10 batters in 10 innings over his last two starts, including six in just three-plus innings during Wednesday's 10-4 loss at Boston.
"I'm just embarrassed in myself more than anything. I feel like I let the team down," Romero said. "Right now when I'm missing, I'm missing bad. I'm not even coming close."
Romero also gave up seven hits and nine runs against the Red Sox. His 52 walks this season - none intentional - are the most in the majors among southpaws.
"Physically, everything is fine," manager John Farrell said. "It's a matter of having conviction, trust and overall belief in the stuff that he possesses."
Those things seem to be more present for Romero at home. He's 5-0 with a 3.83 ERA in Toronto this year and 9-0 in his last 14 home starts since a loss to the New York Yankees last July 16.
Romero has walked 17 in 47 innings at Rogers Centre in 2012, compared to 35 bases on balls in 51 1-3 innings on the road.
He'll face a Kansas City lineup that ranks last in the AL with 200 walks. The Royals (35-42) drew six free passes Sunday, but still lost their third straight to finish a four-game set at Minnesota, 10-8.
They suffered a four-game sweep at home April 20-23 in their first series with the Blue Jays this season. Romero allowed two runs in eight innings of Toronto's 5-3 victory April 22.
Everett Teaford (0-1, 5.06) will start Monday for Kansas City. He made his first major league appearance in two months Wednesday and was sharp against Tampa Bay.
The left-hander, who returned to the Royals after stints on the disabled list (lower abdominal strain) and at Triple-A Omaha, began his outing by striking out five in five shutout innings, but was removed after allowing a walk and a single to begin the sixth. Those two runners scored and the Royals eventually blew a 4-0 lead, but they still won 5-4 thanks to Billy Butler 's eighth-inning homer.
Butler, hitting .297 with 16 homers and 48 RBIs, was selected to his first All-Star team Sunday.
"It's an honor to do it, especially when we're hosting it so I get to do it in front of my hometown fans," Butler said.
Colby Rasmus hit a three-run homer Sunday for the Blue Jays, giving him eight home runs and 24 RBIs in his last 20 games. Toronto has scored six runs or more 11 times in its last 15 contests, but is just 8-7 in that stretch while its starting pitchers have posted a 6.66 ERA.
|Kansas City Royals|
|June 18, 2012||Chris Getz||15-Day DL||Lateral strain in lower left leg|
|June 17, 2012||Chris Getz||Day-to-Day||Left game - Left lateral leg strain|
|June 07, 2012||Felipe Paulino||15-Day DL||Strained right groin|
|May 26, 2012||Jarrod Dyson||Day-to-Day||Left game - Right hamstring injury|
|May 22, 2012||Chris Getz||15-Day DL||Left ribcage contusion|
|May 22, 2012||Chris Getz||15-Day DL||Left ribcage contusion|
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|June 16, 2012||Drew Hutchison||60-Day DL||Right UCL sprain|
|June 14, 2012||Kyle Drabek||15-Day DL||Sprained right elbow ligament|
|June 14, 2012||Kyle Drabek||60-Day DL||Torn right elbow ligament|
|June 13, 2012||Brandon Morrow||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|June 12, 2012||Brandon Morrow||Day-to-Day||Strained left oblique|
|June 07, 2012||Rajai Davis||Day-to-Day||Jammed left middle finger|
TORONTO (AP) -- Mike Moustakas snapped out of his slump, and then some.
Moustakas hit his first career grand slam, Everett Teaford pitched seven innings for his first win of the season and the Kansas City Royals beat the Toronto Blue Jays 11-3 on Monday night.
Hitless in 14 at-bats after going 0 for 8 in Saturday's doubleheader at Minnesota, Moustakas was held out of Sunday's series finale, with Royals manager Ned Yost giving him a chance to "catch his breath."
Moustakas must have breathed deeply.
After striking out his first time up, he hit an RBI double the next time. He then launched a grand slam to highlight Kansas City's five-run seventh, giving him a career-best five RBIs.
"It was really cool," Moustakas said. "I got a good pitch to hit, got a fastball over the middle of the plate and just tried not to do too much with it."
Moustakas said teammates and hitting coach Kevin Seitzer had been trying to keep him encouraged, but nothing helped more than snapping his hitless streak with his third-inning double.
"That was big," he said. "It helped me a lot."
Salvador Perez added a two-run homer as the Royals ended a three-game losing streak, matched their season high with 14 hits and beat Toronto for the first time in five meetings this season.
Jose Bautista hit his major league-leading 27th home run and Colby Rasmus hit a solo shot off the facing of the fifth deck but it wasn't enough for the Blue Jays, who lost for the fifth time in seven games.
Teaford (1-0) allowed three runs and five hits for his first win since last September. He walked two and struck out two.
"For the most part I thought he pitched very, very well," Yost said. "I'm very pleased with him."
Teaford said Kansas City's offensive outburst made his job easy.
"When you get 11 runs, it's easy to pitch," Teaford said.
Kelvin Herrera worked the eighth and Tim Collins finished in the ninth as the Royals won for the fifth time in eight games.
Ricky Romero (8-3) lost at home for the first time in almost a year, giving up eight runs and a season-high 11 hits in six-plus innings. Romero, who suffered consecutive losses for the first time this season, also allowed eight runs in last Wednesday's loss at Boston.
A downcast Romero said he's working hard between starts, but still feels as if he's stuck in quicksand.
"Every time you just keep getting deeper and deeper and you don't know how to get out of it," he said.
Romero came in unbeaten in 14 starts at Rogers Centre since losing a 4-1 decision to the Yankees on July 16, 2011, and was handed an early lead when Brett Lawrie scored on Yunel Escobar 's bases-loaded groundout in the first.
"Teaford did a great job of getting out of that first inning only giving up one," Yost said. "That could have been some damage right there."
Romero couldn't hold the lead, however, and Perez quickly put the Royals in front with his third homer, a two-out line drive that barely cleared the left-field fence.
"He hit it so hard it didn't think it had enough height to get out but it got out and that was huge," Yost said. "It did turn the momentum around."
Kansas City added two more in the third on back-to-back RBI doubles by Yuniesky Betancourt and Moustakas.
Bautista made it 4-2 with a solo drive to center in the bottom half, but the Royals piled on with two more in the fourth. Alex Gordon 's RBI single drove in Perez and Jason Bourgeois scored on a wild pitch.
Rasmus cut it to 6-3 with a booming homer off Teaford in the fifth, a two-out drive that hit off the facing of the fifth deck in right field, his 16th of the season and second in two days.
Asked whether Rasmus' drive was the longest home run he's ever allowed, Teaford joked that he would "have to check air traffic control."
Kansas City chased Romero and put the game out of reach with a five-run seventh. Alcides Escobar led off with a walk, Eric Hosmer doubled and David Pauley came on to replace Romero. Pauley hit Billy Butler to load the bases, gave up an RBI single to Betancourt, then surrendered a first-pitch homer to Moustakas, his 14th.
"That was our first grand slam of the year and it came at a great time," Yost said.
NOTES: Bautista was chosen AL Player of the Month for June after hitting 14 home runs, and was also picked as a participant in the Home Run Derby. ... Lawrie struck out swinging in the fifth, ending a streak of 34 at-bats without a strikeout. Lawrie, whose last strikeout was June 24 at Miami, struck out again in to end the seventh. ... Toronto designated Pauley for assignment following the game and purchased the contract of Triple-A RHP Drew Carpenter. ... The Royals have won four of their past five games in Toronto.