CLEVELAND (AP) — The Royals lost a coach during batting practice. Then a squirrel ran onto the field.
Kansas City’s strange night never got better.
Jeremy Guthrie gave up two-run homers to Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley and the Royals got just six hits in a 4-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Monday night, when a trespassing squirrel provided some comedy by eluding members of the grounds crew for several innings.
Kipnis connected in the sixth inning off Guthrie (2-1), who failed to protect a 3-2 lead. Brantley’s two-run shot in the fourth made it 2-0.
But Kansas City’s problems began before the first pitch when first-base coach Rusty Kuntz broke his left arm when he was struck by a line drive hit by Salvador Perez.
“I thought somebody hit me with a baseball bat,” said Kuntz, who was standing behind a screen in shallow center field when he was hit.
“I look up and, ‘Oh my God, wait a minute.’ That thing hurt. I didn’t know what that was and all of a sudden I felt it.”
Kuntz, who will have surgery Wednesday, said the injury was a new one.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever broken a bone,” Kuntz said. “Riding bikes and falling off and jungle gyms and climbing bars and my whole life and now I’m hurt.”
Perez asked him if he was OK.
“I said, ‘Salvy, right now, no,'” Kuntz said. “All I want to do is throw up.”
Zach McAllister (3-0) gave up six hits and overcame three errors — one on his errant throw in the fifth, when the Royals scored three times. Marc Rzepczynski and Cody Allen pitched a hitless inning each, and Indians closer John Axford worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his seventh save.
Alex Gordon and Omar Infante each had two hits, but the Royals couldn’t get anything going on offense.
“It’s not like they’re not trying,” Kansas City manager Ned Yost said. “Hopefully we’ll get better when we start swinging the bats. We did a nice job getting three runs in the fifth inning. We did it a number of different ways.”
The game was briefly delayed in the second when a squirrel ventured onto the field, and for a while looked like he might move in permanently.
“He just wanted to hang around,” Royals DH Billy Butler said. “He didn’t want to leave.”
The squirrel was directed inside the Royals bullpen by some of the grounds staff, but the slippery rodent escaped and returned for another scamper to the delight of the crowd of 10,789. The pesky intruder hung around for another inning before it was shooed into the Indians’ center-field bullpen.
The squirrel perched on a ledge for several minutes before jumping the wall into the Heritage Park monument area.
“That little joker was frolicking,” Yost said. “They could have arrested him for trespassing because he didn’t have a ticket.”
Helped by McAllister’s throwing error, the Royals scored three runs in the fifth to take a 3-2 lead.
Mike Moustakas doubled to open the inning and scored when diving center fielder Michael Bourn couldn’t squeeze a sinking liner by Alcides Escobar. Jarrod Dyson followed with a bunt toward third that McAllister fielded cleanly before throwing wildly past first, allowing Escobar to score. One out later, Infante’s RBI single put the Royals in front.
Guthrie, though, couldn’t keep the Indians down.
“He made three mistakes,” Yost said. “He hung a change-up to Brantley. He hind a curveball to Swisher and a slider to Kipnis. The two homers are what did the damage. Outside of that he threw the ball well.”
NOTES: The Royals are 9-0 when they score at least four runs, and 0-9 when they score less than four. … Perez is 0-for-17 and 4 of his last 42. … Royals OF Nori Aoki is 3-for-33 (.091) on the road this season. He’s batting .441 (15 of 34) at home. … Royals LHPs Tim Collins (strained hip) and Francisley Bueno (sprained finger) is to throw a simulated game Tuesday. Manager Ned Yost said both will go on a minor league rehab before being activated.