The Royals ended their trip to Detroit and Cleveland with a 1-6 record, and have three games left at home against the Tigers. The Royals are currently holding at 71 victories, the same number they finished the season with in 2011.
Hochevar was chased during the Indians' 10-run fifth inning. That was the Tribe's biggest inning since last season against ... yes, the Royals. On May 16, 2011, at Kansas City, a 10-run fourth inning was part of a 19-1 score. All 10 runs were scored against reliever Vin Mazzaro.
The Indians hadn't scored that many runs in an inning in their own ballpark since Aug. 13, 2006, against ... yes, the Royals. In that game, the Tribe scored 11 runs in the first inning, ganging up on starter Luke Hudson on their way to a 13-0 decision.
On this sunny Sunday, the Indians entertained the 18,099 fans during the big inning with a variety of hits -- including doubles by Shin-Soo Choo, Jason Kipnis and Jack Hannahan and a grand slam by Asdrubal Cabrera.
"It just got away in a hurry," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "A 10-run fifth. That's not good for your business."
Cabrera's grand slam was launched off Royals reliever Everett Teaford, who had just replaced Hochevar.
"That was the pitch I was looking for," Cabrera said. "He threw me a curveball first pitch, and then a changeup. That's what they did before. After that, he threw me a fastball. So I was waiting for the fastball."
The Royals were in an 11-0 hole before getting onto the scoreboard against starter Zach McAllister. Alex Gordon pounded a two-run homer in the sixth inning, his 13th blast of the year.
In the Royals' seventh, Tony Abreu drilled an RBI single. That continued Abreu's impressive hitting with runners in scoring position -- he's 12-for-18 (.667), in those situations. With two outs and runners in scoring position, he's 10-for-13 (.769).
But, overall, the Royals' offense was sluggish -- just as it was for most of Saturday night's game, which they managed to win, 7-6, in 14 innings.
"To win like we did last night, to come back today, we just laid an egg," right fielder Jeff Francoeur said. "Intensity stunk. It just wasn't a good way to end the road trip. We've got three important games coming [up] back home with, obviously, playoff implications for the other team. So, hopefully, we come out and play a lot better than we did today -- because today was brutal."
The Tigers are coming into Kansas City with a three-game lead over the Chicago White Sox in the American League Central race. They'd like to quaff champagne at Kauffman Stadium.
Even though the Tigers swept the Royals in four games last week at Detroit, two of the games were decided by one run and another by two runs.
"We played decent in Detroit. But we didn't play very good here," Francoeur said.
Hochevar got through the first four innings allowing just one run, although he gave up three hits in the second inning and had to escape a bases-loaded jam in the third.
"He threw the ball pretty good 'til the fifth inning, and it just kind of caved in on him," Yost said.
"We haven't exactly done a good job of getting Hoch runs and letting him calm down and get to pitching early," Francoeur said. "And it's tough for him when you get in a jam and feel you have to be perfect, and I think that's what happened to him today."
Hochevar won just once in his last 11 starts during the last two months. Even in the victory, though, he gave up five runs on six hits and four walks in just five innings at Minnesota.
Last year, he was 11-11 with a 4.68 ERA in 31 starts -- but this year's 16 losses were the most in his career.
"Not good," Hochevar said. "First and foremost, is when I take the mound, I want to help the team win games. And that's the bottom line. That's why we're here, is to win and I didn't feel like I helped the team to win like I should. I'll just take it into the offseason with more fire underneath me to do whatever I need to do to have a good year."
Yost maintains his confidence that Hochevar will one day be an important piece of the Royals' pitching staff.
"When he figures it out, we're going to be in great shape," Yost said. "I just don't have an answer for you on that one. I thought this would be the year he'd put it together. But, [maybe] next year."