The Twins never led in this 7-3 defeat to a division rival. Chris Archer delivered what’s starting to become his standard outing (4 innings, 78 pitches, lots of traffic) and nearly escaped with the Twins trailing 2-1. Instead, a broken-bat two-out RBI hit in the fourth was followed by an infield error and a Whit Merrifield two-run double that put the Royals in front 5-1. Minnesota threatened in the 6th and the 9th but couldn’t close the gap.
Win: Brady Singer (2-0, 2.49), Loss: Chris Archer (0-2, 4.19)
Scoring Play by Play:
The Royals got the action started quickly against Archer in the top of the 1st. Andrew Benintendi continued his season-long torturing of Twins’ pitching (now 14-39 vs. Minnesota on the season) with a 1-out double and he was driven in by a double from the suddenly hot Bobby Witt Jr. (now 7-14 with 4 doubles, a triple, and a homer in the series). Byron Buxton led off the Twins’ half with a double but was stranded. Royals 1, Twins 0 after one inning.
The Twins would tie it up at 1 in the bottom of the 2nd inning when Trevor Larnach homered just over the fence (and Merrifield’s glove) in left-center field. Royals 1, Twins 1 after two innings.
The Royals would scratch across a single run in the third inning when Benintendi and Witt Jr. teamed up again, this time with two outs (this will be a theme). Benintendi reached on a single and came all the way around to score when Witt Jr. hit another hard double to left. The ball took an awkward bounce off the warning track and stayed underneath the padding on the wall instead of kicking out to Nick Gordon. The extra time needed to retrieve the ball was enough to score the run without a play at the plate. Royals 2, Twins 1 after three innings.
Kansas City stretched their lead to four runs in the top of the fourth with three more two-out runs as Archer and the Twins just couldn’t quite put the inning to bed. Hunter Dozier was nearly stranded at first base after reaching on a one-out single. With two outs, Archer wild pitched Dozier to second base and took Emmanuel Rivera to an eight-pitch full count before Rivera managed to use his thumbs to knock a blooper just passed Jorge Polanco’s glove in (very) short right field to score Dozier. Polanco allowed Nicky Lopez to reach with a bad throw on a fairly routine slow roller that Luis Arraez couldn’t bail out at first base and Merrifield made the Twins pay for their sloppy defense with a hard double off the right field wall that scored Rivera and Lopez. Royals 5, Twins 1 after four innings.
After Juan Minaya kept the Royals off the board in the fifth and sixth innings, the Twins fought back with two, two-out runs of their own. Arraez led off with a single (drink) and Kyle Garlick (who entered the game as an injury replacement for Max Kepler, who left with what’s being described as leg soreness) extended the inning with a two-out hit of his own (and off a right-handed pitcher no less!). Lefty reliever Gabe Speier was brought on to face Larnach who worked a walk to load the bases for Gary Sanchez. Sanchez was lifted due to heat-related issues for Ryan Jeffers who ripped a 3-1 fastball up the middle for a two-run single. Royals 5, Twins 3 after six innings.
Minaya started his third inning of work by getting Benintendi to ground out, but allowed yet another double to Witt Jr. (his third of the day) and then hit Salvador Perez with an errant fastball. Jovani Moran was summoned from the pen to quell the rally and coaxed a comebacker for the 2nd out. The runners advanced to scoring position on the play, and as the story of today’s game goes, Moran promptly allowed a two-out, two-run single to Dozier before escaping the inning. Royals 7, Twins 3 after 7 innings.
After the eighth inning and top of the ninth were mostly uneventful (save for Tyler Duffey striking out Witt Jr., because... baseball I guess), the Twins put a two-rally of their own together in the bottom of the ninth against Josh Staumont. Arraez and Carlos Correa singled, each for their third time in the game, and Polanco drew a walk to load the bases and bring Garlick to the plate as the tying run. Garlick put a charge into a high fly ball in the left-center field gap that made the Target Field patrons hold their collective breath for a moment. Unfortunately, the ball needed just a bit more seasoning and fell harmlessly into a glove on the warning track for the final out. Royals 7, Twins 3 - FINAL
The Twins' best position in this one was with two outs in the top of the 3rd when they were 54% to win. From that point on, it was all Kansas City.
+14.7 WPA — Top 4: Whit Merrifield doubles (9) on a fly ball to center fielder Byron Buxton. Emmanuel Rivera scores. Nicky Lopez scores.
+13.5 WPA — Top 3: Bobby Witt Jr. doubles (12) on a sharp line drive to left fielder Nick Gordon. Andrew Benintendi scores. Bobby Witt Jr. to 3rd.
+12.5 WPA — Bottom 6: Ryan Jeffers singles on a sharp ground ball to center fielder Whit Merrifield. Luis Arraez scores. Kyle Garlick scores. Trevor Larnach to 2nd.
+11.5 WPA — Bottom 2: Trevor Larnach homers (2) on a fly ball to center field.
+11.2 WPA — Top 7: Hunter Dozier singles on a ground ball to center fielder Byron Buxton. Bobby Witt Jr. scores. Salvador Perez scores.
Trevor Larnach: 1-2, HR, 2 BB
Ryan Jeffers: 1-2, pinch-hit 2 run single
Luis Arraez: 3-5, 3 singles, run scored
Carlos Correa: 3-5, 3 singles
Jorge Polanco: 0-4, BB, 6 LOB, crucial error that led to 2 runs
Chris Archer: 4 IP, 7H, 5R, 1K
Almost everything that happened with two outs (save for Jeffers’ pinch hit)
vs. Kansas City tomorrow, 1:10 p.m. Central
Probables: Sonny Gray (2-1, 2.60 ERA) vs. Zack Greinke (0-3, 4.53 ERA)
We’ll await tonight and tomorrow morning for word of any more roster moves in light of Max Kepler and Gary Sanchez leaving today’s contest early and extended outings by Minaya and Moran out of the ‘pen.