The Kansas City Royals surrendered five runs in the first inning, eventually losing 6-2 to the Minnesota Twins on Saturday at Target Field.
Wade Davis fell apart early and never recovered. The starter forced leadoff hitter Clete Thomas to flyout in the bottom of the first, but issued back-to-back walks to Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer. Justin Morneau followed with a double to centerfield, plating both runs.
Jarrod Dyson looked like he was going to run the line drive down, but appeared to slow up a bit before jumping up in the air to try and catch the ball. The ball bounced off his glove, then ricocheted off the wall. It wasn't an easy play, but my guess is Lorenzo Cain would have caught the ball. Cain has looks like he has more range out there despite Dyson's speed advantage, and the defensive statistics all say that Cain is a better defender, so Dyson should really be the one in rightfield when they both play.
It wouldn't have mattered too much, as Trevor Plouffe drilled a two run homer in the left field bullpen in the next at-bat. Davis grooved a 3-2 fastball down the middle of the plate, and Plouffe took the pitch for a ride.
That home run couldn't even kill the rally, even though Davis struck out Oswaldo Arcia in the next at-bat. Chris Parmelee drew a walk, then Jamey Carroll and Pedro Florimon hit back-to-back singles to drive in Parmelee. Davis finally ended the inning with a Thomas strikeout, but the Twins had taken a commanding 5-0 lead.
Bob Dutton dug up a nice factoid to put in perspective how ineffective Davis' first inning was:
Wade Davis' 53-pitch first inning was the most since Houston's Wandy Rodriguez threw 57 (and gave up 7 runs) on Aug. 1, 2007 at Atlanta.— Bob Dutton (@Royals_Report) June 29, 2013
I've become a bit of a Davis defender over the past month, but there is no sugarcoating that first inning. There is also no good explanation for why Ned Yost sent Davis out for the second.
If the first inning didn't offer enough proof that Davis couldn't pitch on Saturday, then the second offered more. Dozier hit a leadoff single, then Mauer and Morneua drew back-to-back walks to load the bases. Yost finally removed Davis for Will Smith, bringing the southpaw in to face Plouffe with the bases loaded.
Plouffe hit a sacrifice fly to rightfield, scoring Dozier, but Smith forced Arcia to ground into a double-play, getting the Royals out of the jam. Davis finished the day allowing six runs, only recording three outs while giving up five hits and five walks. But the starter managed to make history, per Aaron Gleeman of Hardball Talk:
Wow. @baseball_ref says Wade Davis just set the record for most pitches while recording three or fewer outs with 69. http://t.co/UWNTyvtWBx— Aaron Gleeman (@AaronGleeman) June 29, 2013
Kansas City plated a pair of runs in the top of the third inning by stringing together four singles. Jarrod Dyson led off the inning with a single, then stole second base. Alcides Escobar hit a one-out single to drive in Dyson, then advanced to second when Hosmer slapped his own single. Salvador Perez drove in Escobar with a two-out single, driving in the second run of the inning.
The Royals would only score two runs against Kyle Gibson, who was making his major-league debut. The Twins top pitching prospect tossed six innings, surrendering the pair of runs on seven hits. Gibson struck out five and walked none, and generally kept the Royals off-balance all game.
Smith kept the game from turning into a laugher with five scoreless innings out of the bullpen. The lefty only allowed three hits, striking out six while walking none. There will probably be some loud calls for Smith to replace Davis in the rotation, but Dutton doesn't see that happening. Still, it's nice to see Smith miss bats and find some success; he is still only 23 years-old, and had a 26.4% K% as a starter in Triple-A Omaha this year.
The Royals threated to score in the eighth inning. Brian Duensing walked Hosmer to start the inning, and was removed by Ron Gardenhire for Casey Fien. Fien forced Billy Butler to flyout, but Perez and Mike Moustakas hit followed with back-to-back singles, loading the bases.
Cain and Miguel Tejada both struck out with the bases loaded, ending the threat. Both players struck out on sliders that were out of the strike zone; Tejada's strike three was in the dirt.
Luke Hochevar pitched two shutout innings of relief, so that's something. Glen Perkins tossed a perfect ninth to close out the victory for Minnesota.
David Lesky of Pine Tar Press summed up the game rather succinctly:
Poop. #Royals— David Lesky (@DBLesky) June 29, 2013
The loss pushes Kansas City to 37-41 on the season, giving the team one more win 78 games into the season in 2013 as they had in 2012. The Royals will wrap up their four-game series at Target Field tomorrow afternoon; Ervin Santana will face Kevin Correia to try and give KC a series split.