Minnesota never surrendered their early lead tonight, knocking off the Royals and taking a stand against the whole idea of leaving men on base.
After two quiet innings, the Twins jump-started their offense with a leadoff walk in the third. After Ryan Jeffers singled him over, Gilberto Celestino went all Gardyball on it, bunting the runners over to set up a Byron Buxton at-bat. Buck would fly out on a long foul pop to Whit Merrifield, but it counted as another sacrifice, with Jeffers coming in to score; 2-0 Twins.
Joe Ryan had begun his night with two innings and four strikeouts, but could not shut down Kansas City, who responded to the opening scores. In the home third, the Royals used a double from Merrifield and an RBI single from Andrew Benintendi to halve the lead.
Ryan and Royal starter Brad Keller would continue trading zeroes until action picked up again in the sixth. Luis Arraez took another leadoff walk, was moved over on a one-out ground ball, and came home when Max Kepler singled him in with a key two-out hit.
Gary Sanchez would follow with an RBI double; per various sources, Sanchez has tied his career best with RBI in five consecutive games — he’s also already tied his doubles output from the 2021 season.
Keller would pitch seven full innings tonight, giving up those four earned runs on five hits and a trio of walks. Meanwhile, Ryan would be yanked midway through the sixth, having surrendered just the lone third-inning run, and striking out six Kansas City hitters along the way. Caleb Thielbar, who relieved him, would allow a solo shot to Emmanuel Rivera in the next inning, tightening the score to 4-2.
Thankfully, the insurance came quickly; yet another leadoff walk to Arraez in the eighth worked its way all around the diamond, and came home on a two-out wild pitch from Gabe Speier.
Joe Smith would continue his perfect season (at least, in the earned run department) by tossing 1.1 scoreless innings and keeping Kansas City at bay. Still unsatisfied, the Twins went on the attack again in the visiting ninth — Gio Urshela doubled into the corner, Ryan Jeffers laid down yet another sacrifice bunt for the team, and Gilberto Celestino drew a four-pitch walk to set up a Byron Buxton at-bat.
Buxton said, “I’ll have what he’s having,” pointing to Celestino for clarity, and also enunciating enough so that his lips could be read from the telecast. This would-be non-sequitur was in reference to Celestino’s walk; he would work a free pass to fill up the bases for Luis Arraez.
Arraez, as he is wont to do, slapped one the other way through the infield and cycled through another run for the Twins to make it 6-2. Correa said, “I’ll do you one better, and then I’ll do you one BETTER,” and doubled home two runners on a drive to right that nearly left Kauffman Stadium.
Jorge Polanco lightly brought it down to his patented ‘ville, lacing another sacrifice fly to center field on a frozen rope to center field. This scored the ninth run of the game in what was, all said and done, a four-run ninth inning.
Cody Stashak got cleanup duty, and ran through a tidy ninth. 9-2 your final!
The next Twins pitcher we’ll see is Bailey Ober, fresh off the IL to make his start on Sunday afternoon. Minnesota will go for the sweep to start a big stretch against a pair of division rivals; hope to see you there!
SP Joe Ryan (5.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 6 K)
1B Luis Arraez (2-for-3, 3 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB)
SS Carlos Correa (2-for-5, 2B, 2 RBI)
ROBOT ROLL CALL:
No Bomba Squad tonight...the Manufacturers are in town!