Families filed into Target Field Sunday for a Father’s Day matchup between the Twins and the Royals, one in which Minnesota hoped to finish off a three-game sweep over the bottom-dwellers in the AL Central. Instead, some bad breaks and two errors proved to be too much for the Twins’ offense to surmount in an 8-6 loss.
Twins’ starter Martin Perez came into the contest in a cold spell. He hadn’t gone more than five innings in any of his last five starts, and had a 7.27 ERA in that span. He broke that streak Sunday, but not before some early struggles. Kansas City struck first in the second inning, but hardly because of poor pitching from Perez. Royals’ hitters made weak contact, but found the weak spots in the defense to get hits. Kansas City turned four singles and a walk into an early 3-0 lead. Speed was the story of the inning. Early, Max Kepler wasn’t fast enough to get to a bloop single which Byron Buxton likely would have had, but Buxton was out of the lineup with a wrist contusion. Later in the inning, speedy Billy Hamilton hit into a would-be double play which turned into a fielder’s choice. If not for those two plays, the Twins’ could have been down just one run instead of three.
Minnesota’s bats responded in the fourth. Miguel Sano led off the inning with a solo home run (his seventh in just 21 games this season), and Kepler later drove in Marwin Gonzalez with a two-out hit which cut the lead to one. Meanwhile, Perez settled into a groove on the mound. He retired 14 straight Royals from the 2nd to the 7th, giving his team a chance to get back in the game. Unfortunately, mistakes in the field kept those hopes from becoming reality.
The Twins’ bullpen allowed four runs after Perez left after six and two thirds (4 ER, 7 K, 1 BB), but none of them were earned. With one out in the eighth inning, reliever Mike Morin’s foot missed first base trying to cover the bag on a Chelsor Cuthbert ground ball to Ehire Adrianza, and the mistake came back to bite Minnesota. Jorge Bonifacio doubled home Cuthbert, and later Billy Hamilton drove in Cuthbert and Martin Maldonado to extend the Kansas City lead to 8-3 later in the inning. If Morin had hit first, he would have been out of the inning before any of those runs crossed home.
As a result of those missteps, Minnesota’s late comeback was for naught. The Twins scored three runs in the last two innings, but also left runs on the bases. Minnesota stranded the bases loaded in the 7th, runners on second and third in the 8th, and the tying run at first base in the 9th. In total, the Twins left 15 runners on base in the game.
Minnesota fell to 47-23 with the loss, and Kansas City improved to 23-48. The Twins stay at home to start a three-game series Monday with the defending champion Red Sox. It will be the first time Minnesota plays Boston this season.
Posted: Nate Dickinson