There are many teams that score four runs and feel as if they had a 'just okay' night or might even be disappointed. For the 2013 Royals we have to count this as a good offensive night. Maybe even a mini-explosion....even if three of those runs were unearned.
This game was really all about the first inning. An inning that saw Jeremy Guthrie allow three walks, a hit and a near three run home run that thankfully went foul. It took Guthrie 38 pitches and Eric Hosmer out wrestling a fan for the third out - a foul into the first row - to get out of the inning. When the dust had settled, however, only one Twin had managed to cross home plate.
The bottom of the first was also action packed as the Royals took advantage of a Pedro Floriman error (really it should have been two errors) to score their first run on a Salvador Perez single. The Twins' P.J. Walters then sandwiched two walks around a Mike Moustakas fly ball to deep right field to load the bases for David Lough, who promptly doubled in two more runs.
After that, the two teams spent the rest of the game putting runners on base and not getting them across the plate. Thankfully, Minnesota was better at that skill than Kansas City and ended up leaving 14 runners on base: 11 over the last eight innings. For their part, the Royals left eight runners of their own stranded, but did manage to add a run in the seventh on a Perez walk, a wild pitch and a Billy Butler bloop single.
The new lineup - which I don't hate - pieced together eight hits (seven by Perez, Butler & Lough), five walks and only four strikeouts. It was not exactly an offensive break-out night, but it did end up producing four runs (with a little help from Pedro Floriman).
Four runs was enough for Guthrie, who righted the ship to go six innings. It was not a pretty six innings, mind you, but it worked. The bullpen pitched three scoreless innings to close it out, but not without a bit of excitement.
Tim Collins loaded the bases in the seventh, but Aaron Crow induced a ground ball for the final out. Kelvin Herrera, back from Omaha and back as the eight inning man, had to use 19 pitches but did produce a 1-2-3 innings. The ninth saw Greg Holland allow a single and walk to start the inning, only to then strikeout the next three Twin hitters to close out the game.
Ned/Frank's odd decision of the game for the night was the insertion of Jeff Francoeur for defense in place of David Lough for the ninth inning. Yes, I know all about THE ARM, but have you seen the guy run, or more appropriately, amble?
Nothing seems to come easy for this team and there exists a sound line of reasoning that suggests that each win just prolongs the inevitable and necessary major changes from actually occurring. That said, it is fun to win.