J.A. Happ has been saying the word "frustrating" a lot more often than he'd like.
Over his last three starts, the Blue Jays left-hander has lasted just 14 innings, giving up 14 total runs to shoulder the loss in each of those games, including Sunday's 5-0 defeat against the Kansas City Royals.
"You guys are probably sick of me saying this, it's frustrating," Happ said. "It's frustrating for everybody."
Happ (3-5) pitched only four innings, allowing five runs, three earned, on six hits and a walk. He also struck out three.
Kansas City (70-66) inflicted most of its damage on Happ and the Blue Jays (62-75) in the third inning, when the team sent nine men to the plate and capitalized on a costly error that ultimately led to four runs.
Jose Reyes was called for obstruction when he bumped into Jarrod Dyson, who was caught in a rundown between second and third base. Brett Lawrie of Langley, B.C., appeared to have tagged the runner but the obstruction call put Dyson at third. He would score on a single from the next batter, Alex Gordon.
And then the floodgates opened.
The Royals added another run with an RBI from former Blue Jay Emilio Bonifacio, and Eric Hosmer drove in two more to make it 5-0 before Happ could record a single out.
"I don't know what to say about that [obstruction call] because I don't know the exact ruling on it." Happ said. "I do know he wasn't even looking at Jose and he actually took a step back into Jose. I know he has a right to create his own baseline but he had no clue Jose was even there.
"It changes that inning, definitely, but at the same time, I'm trying to minimize damage and I felt like I wasn't making good pitches to lead off that inning."
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons raced onto the field to argue the obstruction call to no avail, and after the game, Reyes took ownership of the costly play.
"I just tried to get the ball from Lawrie and in that situation, we got contact and I'm not allowed to do that," the Blue Jays shortstop said. "After that, that's when they scored the runs. It's a tough day. I didn't mean to do that, but I guess everything happened so quickly in the game. Hopefully that doesn't happen again."
Gibbons said he wasn't sure if the obstruction call affected Happ mentally, but he couldn't downplay the impact it had on the inning.
"I don't know, I mean it just opened everything up — you're first and third with no outs," the Toronto manager said. "When they get those guys on, I mean (Happ) is slow to the plate, he's a big lumbering guy. It's tough to stop, so if you get guys on there they can run you out of the ball park."
While Happ struggled, his Kansas City counterpart shined.
James Shields (10-8) dominated through seven scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and a walk while striking out nine. He retired the first 11 batters he faced before giving up a hit to Edwin Encarnacion.
Shields, who was traded from the Tampa Bay Rays to Kansas City in December, is now 12-6 against his former division rival.
"Shields is good," said Gibbons. "They get a lead like that, you're probably not going to get to him too often. I think he's proven that against this ball club for years."
Kansas City manager Ned Yost was happy his starter could salvage the finale of the three-game series after two close losses, including a late comeback victory for the Blue Jays on Saturday.
"We had James Shields on the mound, which couldn't have been a better answer to what happened yesterday," Yost said. "It just seems like he's getting stronger and stronger as the year goes on ... it's what he does everyday. He gets ahead with his fastball and then uses an outstanding change-up to put hitters away."
Toronto had its three-game winning streak come to an end.
The Blue Jays' best chance to score came in the fifth inning when Rajai Davis hit a one-out triple. But Shields struck out Anthony Gose on three pitches, and got Kevin Pillar swinging to end the threat.
Toronto relievers Chad Jenkins and Neil Wagner combined for four scoreless frames and Dustin McGowan — who was activated earlier in the day after rehabbing a strained oblique for the past month — worked the ninth.
Hosmer had two hits and drove in three runs and Dyson also racked up a pair of singles. Bonifacio had two hits and scored twice, and stole two bases to bring his tally to a perfect 11 for 11 in steals with Kansas City.
The Royals opened the scoring with a Hosmer RBI groundout that scored Bonifacio, who was walked by Happ, stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by catcher J.P. Arencibia.
Blue Jays rookie Ryan Goins' eight-game hitting streak was snapped. He tied Jesse Barfield's team record for the longest hitting streak to begin a career on Saturday.
Though Toronto's three-game set with the Royals ended with a bitter loss, Reyes was able to find a positive.
"We're happy to come up with the series," he said, flashing a half-smile. "Every time we win a series, we take that."
Notes: Reliever Steve Delabar was also activated prior to the game after spending nearly a month on the disabled list with right-shoulder inflammation. ... The Blue Jays won the season series over the Royals 4-2. ... Attendance was 22,961 ... The Blue Jays travel to Arizona to take on the Diamondbacks for a three-game set beginning Monday afternoon. Esmil Rogers (3-7, 5.03 earned-run average) is scheduled to start against Arizona right-hander Brandon McCarthy (3-8, 3.67 ERA).