SEATTLE -- The consecutive losses are wearing thin on the Kansas City Royals.
The Royals lost their club-record 16th consecutive game Monday night, managing only three hits and one run in eight innings against 19-year-old Seattle rookie Felix Hernandez in an 11-3 loss to the Mariners.
"What do you think?" frowning Royals catcher John Buck said when asked about the mood of the team. "We hate it every single day."
"Absolutely," he replied when asked if the 16-game losing streak was the worst thing he'd ever been through as a player.
The Royals, winless since July 27 when they beat the Chicago White Sox 6-5 in 13 innings, have the longest losing streak in the major leagues since the Chicago Cubs lost 16 straight in 1996-97, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Cubs lost the final two games of the 1996 season and the first 14 in 1997.
The 1988 Baltimore Orioles are the only American League team to have a longer skid in the last 30 years, losing a league-record 21 in a row at the start of the season.
Bench coach Bob Schaefer directed the Royals in place of manager Buddy Bell, who was in Virginia to attend services at Arlington National Cemetery for his nephew, a Marine killed in Iraq. Lance Cpl. Tim Bell Jr. was killed by a roadside bomb this month.
The Royals know their losing streak is going to end, but they can't predict when.
"Just say today's the day and keep playing hard," Buck said. "Hopefully, it's going to end tomorrow."
Bell is expected to be in Seattle on Tuesday night.
"Not too good," Schaefer said when asked about his team's morale. "We're trying to win. We've had 16 days to try to get something to work, but nothing has worked so far. Today, we just faced a tough pitcher."
Not many Royals players were in the clubhouse after the game and some didn't want to talk. Terrence Long waved off reporters who wanted to talk to him.
Hernandez (2-1), making his third major-league start since being called up from Triple-A Tacoma on Aug. 4, lowered his ERA to 0.86 -- two earned runs in 21 innings. He had a career-high 11 strikeouts and walked one, baffling the Royals with a 98 mph fastball, a devastating curveball and a changeup.
His control in the majors has been impeccable. He's walked only three batters.
Hernandez lost his shutout bid in the seventh when Mike Sweeney and Emil Brown opened with singles, and Sweeney scored on Angel Berroa's fielder's choice. Berroa singled in the second for Kansas City's other hit off Hernandez.
"Kansas City is going through a tough time right now obviously," Mariners manager Mike Hargrove said. "But they still have good hitters. Felix threw the ball well. The pitches he made would have been tough on anyone."
Speaking through a translator, Hernandez said, "I'm always thinking if it's a strikeout, that's great. But I don't try to always strike people out."
Pitching coach Bryan Price said, "The thing that really amazes me is not the strikeouts. It's that he gets a lot of groundouts."
Morse, also a rookie, gave the Mariners a 2-0 lead in the second with his homer off Runelvys Hernandez (8-11). Morse broke out of an 0-for-15 slump in his first start at shortstop in a week.
Sexson made it 8-1 with a 416-foot opposite-field home run to right in the seventh, his 29th homer of the season. Sexson hit 45 homers for Milwaukee in 2003 and 2001, 31 for Cleveland in 1999 and 29 for Milwaukee in 2002.
Suzuki hit his 11th homer in the eighth.
Runelvys Hernandez pitched six innings and gave up six runs on eight hits and two walks, with five strikeouts.
"I hope we win tomorrow," Runelvys Hernandez said. "The whole team is going to try to win the game tomorrow. But we are struggling."
Brown added, "I don't know how many we've lost in a row. I'm trying to forget about it."
|Felix Hernandez boasts an 0.86 ERA in three major-league starts. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
|Kansas City Royals|
|David DeJesus, CF||4||0||0||0||0||1||1||.289|
|Chip Ambres, LF||4||1||1||0||0||2||1||.321|
|Mike Sweeney, 1B||4||1||1||0||0||0||1||.300|
|Emil Brown, DH||4||1||2||0||0||2||0||.283|
|Terrence Long, RF||4||0||1||2||0||0||1||.275|
|Angel Berroa, SS||4||0||1||1||0||1||1||.267|
|Mark Teahen, 3B||4||0||0||0||0||2||2||.240|
|John Buck, C||4||0||0||0||0||1||2||.229|
|Joe McEwing, 2B||2||0||0||0||1||2||0||.256|
|2B - Terrence Long (19, Nelson)|
|RBI - Terrence Long 2 (41), Angel Berroa (33)|
|Team LOB - 5|
|Outfield Assists - Terrence Long 1|
|E - John Buck (2, Wild throw)|
|Kansas City Royals|
|Runelvys Hernandez (L,8-11)||6||8||6||6||2||5||1||5.10|
|Pitches-Strikes - Runelvys Hernandez 98-63, Andy Sisco 33-21, Jonah Bayliss 33-14, Jimmy Gobble 4-2|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Runelvys Hernandez 6-6, Andy Sisco 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Runelvys Hernandez 27, Andy Sisco 6, Jonah Bayliss 8, Jimmy Gobble 1|
|Ichiro Suzuki, RF||5||2||2||2||0||0||0||.307|
|Willie Bloomquist, 3B||5||1||1||2||0||3||0||.269|
|Raul Ibanez, LF||3||1||2||1||1||0||0||.293|
|a- Jamal Strong, PH-LF||0||1||0||0||1||0||0||.000|
|Richie Sexson, 1B||3||1||1||2||1||2||1||.259|
|b- Dave Hansen, PH-1B||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||.178|
|Adrian Beltre, DH||5||1||3||1||0||2||2||.260|
|Jeremy Reed, CF||4||0||0||0||1||0||3||.250|
|Mike Morse, SS||4||2||2||2||0||1||2||.305|
|Yuniesky Betancourt, 2B||4||0||0||0||0||1||1||.218|
|Yorvit Torrealba, C||3||2||2||1||1||0||0||.227|
|a-walked for Ibanez in the 8th|
|b-walked for Sexson in the 8th|
|2B - Mike Morse (9, Ru. Hernandez)|
|3B - Willie Bloomquist (1, Ru. Hernandez)|
|HR - Ichiro Suzuki (11, Bayliss), Richie Sexson (29, Sisco), Mike Morse (3, Ru. Hernandez)|
|RBI - Ichiro Suzuki 2 (47), Willie Bloomquist 2 (15), Raul Ibanez (67), Richie Sexson 2 (88), Adrian Beltre (65), Mike Morse 2 (21), Yorvit Torrealba (9)|
|2-OUT RBI - Willie Bloomquist 2 (4), Raul Ibanez (34), Richie Sexson 2 (36), Adrian Beltre (16), Yorvit Torrealba (1)|
|SB - Raul Ibanez (7, 3rd base off Ru. Hernandez/Buck)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|E - Mike Morse (12, Misplayed grounder)|
|Felix Hernandez (W,2-1)||8||3||1||1||1||11||0||0.86|
|WP - Felix Hernandez (1)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Felix Hernandez 99-67, Jeff Nelson 23-15|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Felix Hernandez 9-4, Jeff Nelson 2-2|
|Batters Faced - Felix Hernandez 28, Jeff Nelson 7|
|Attendance - 31908|
|Game Time - 2:37|
|Temperature - 82|
|Umpires - Home - Bill Welke, First Base - Brian O'Nora, Second Base - Tim Welke, Third Base - Gary Cederstrom|