The biggest fear after last night’s offensive explosion was that the Royals wouldn’t have any offensive fireworks left. This became even more concerning when you took into account that Jose Berríos, the Twins ace, was taking the mound against Kansas City. The good news is that the Royals found four runs against the big right-hander and forced their way into the suspect Twins bullpen by the seventh inning. The bad news is that they scored nothing against the bullpen and Royals starter Mike Minor couldn’t contain the powerful Twins offense.
Watching the game I never particularly felt that Mike Minor was struggling. And, in fact, he only allowed seven hits and a single walk. He snapped a streak of five starts in a row with at least seven strikeouts by only striking out five but he went seven innings. Unfortunately, three of those hits were home runs, including two with a runner on. Catcher Ryan Jeffers demolished a pitch to left field in the second inning to give the Twins an early lead, noted lefty-killer Kyle Garlick hit a solo shot in the third, and Miguel Sanó blasted his longest home run of the season with a runner on and the Twins down by one in the sixth inning.
The Royals answered the Twins’ first score; the Twins gave the Royals two free runners in the bottom of the second with some poor infield defense and Whit Merrifield made them pay with a two-run single up the middle to tie the game. In the bottom of the fifth Andrew Benintendi hit his sixth home run with a runner on to give the Royals a short-lived one-run lead ahead of Sanó’s response in the sixth.
In the ninth inning, the Royals almost got something going against Twins reliever Hansel Robles. Kelvin Gutierrez led off the inning with a double before returning to the dugout in favor of pinch-runner Jarrod Dyson. Then the Twins infield defense struck again. Jorge Soler hit a sharp groundball to short – just about the worst thing he could have done in the situation – and former Platinum Glove-winner Andrelton Simmons bobbled the ball before throwing Soler – who is still nursing a groin injury – out at first. Sanó tried to pick Dyson off of second and the ball bounced away. Dyson made an…interesting decision to head for third. At first, it seemed a devastating mistake as he was called out. However, after a lengthy review, he was ultimately ruled safe at third. Unfortunately, Michael A. Taylor hit an 0-2 pitch on the screws right at Simmons who caught the line drive and fired to third to double off Dyson and end the game.
The Royals were unlikely to go the entire month of June without losing a game but this one was well within their grasp, throughout. If Mike Minor could have kept the Twins in the park a bit better or if Taylor’s liner was just a little bit to the right or left of where it was actually hit they probably could have stolen a win and kept making up ground following that 11-game losing streak.
Speaking of that streak, it now exists as the unfortunate filler to a sandwich of stretches of Royals games where the team has otherwise gone 29-16. The Royals can’t just remove that horrible stretch from their games completed, but neither can anyone take away the fact that they’ve otherwise played some very good baseball in a much larger sample. This team is not like those millennials have grown up with, it’s not nearly eliminated, yet, with plenty of season left to play.
The Royals still have a chance to win tomorrow which would allow them to take their third series in a row and give them a 5-1 homestand. Brady Singer (3-4 5.06 ERA) will take the mound for Kansas City. He’s been the victim of some bad luck and some bad misses down the middle; I still have a strong sense that he is due to go on a hot stretch any day now and really give the team a boost. The Twins originally had Michael Pineda scheduled to start tomorrow but he is suffering from forearm tightness so their starter is currently TBD. That’s a bit of a break for Kansas City as he was pitching pretty well; almost certainly better than whoever the Twins end up sending out there.