I know we are still dealing with "small sample sizes" here, but based on the past eight games, the Kansas City Royals may finish out the season undefeated.
The Royals defeated the Minnesota Twins 4-3 at Target Field Thursday night, winning their eighth straight game. Kansas City took advantage of a big error by Pedro Florimon, and stranded Minnesota baserunners in key situations.
Miguel Tejada put the Royals on the board first with an RBI-single in the second inning, driving in David Lough after the outfielder hit a one-out double. Billy Butler drove in the second run, hitting a sacrifce fly in the third that drove in Alex Gordon from third, but Eric Hosmer was thrown out attempting to advance to third.
Outside of those two plays, Royals hitters were held quiet by Kevin Correia. The Twins starter scattered 10 hits over six innings, striking out three but issuing no walks. It would be nice to see the Royals get more runs on 10 hits, but the team did not bunch their hits together.
Jeremy Guthrie countered Correia with a quality start of his own, only allowing two runs on six hits over six innings. The starter stuck out five and walked two, throwing 107 pitches.
Pedro Florimon scored the Twins first run in the top of the fifth, cracking a solo homer. Guthrie has now given up 23 homers this year.
Minnesota had a chance to blow the game open in the sixth. Joe Mauer, Ryan Doumit and Justin Morneau led off the inning with three straight singles, loading the bases with no outs. Trevor Plouffe hit into a fielder's choice for the first out, but Chris Herrmann followed with a one-out walk, forcing in Doumit to tie the game 2-2.
Guthrie managed to escape the jam, forcing Aaron Hicks to hit an infield fly before fanning Florimon.
The Royals regained the lead with a two-out rally in the seventh. Gordon hit a triple againat Caleb Thielbar, but the southpaw forced Hosmer to hit a groundball, which should have ended the inning.
Florimon booted the grounder, which allowed Gordon to score from home. Hosmer then swiped second and scored on a Butler single, giving Kansas City an important insurance run.
Tim Collins tossed a clean sventh before yielding to Kelvin Herrera. Herrera gave up back-to-back doubles to Doumit and Plouffe, bringing the score to 4-3. Herrera managed to strike out Herrmann, but Hicks reached base on a swinging bunt, putting runners on first and third with one out.
Aaron Crow replaced Herrera, and helped the Royals escape from the jam. The right-hander fanned Chris Colabello and and Clete Thomas, stranding two runners in scoring position.
Greg Holland threw a scoreless ninth, working around an infield single and Alcides Escobar error by fanning Morneau and Doumit on nasty sliders.
Lough paced the offense with a three-hit night, while Gordon, Hosmer and Mike Moustakas all had multi-hit games.
Kansas City's current winning streak is the longest since 2003, per the team's official Twitter account. The Royals will go for their ninth straight victory and second consecutive sweep Thursday afternoon. James Shields will face off against Scott Diamond, with first pitch scheduled for 12:10 p.m. CT.