This particular game began innocently, predictably, and ended the same. But then, in the middle, the Royals decided to shake things up, coming away with their 3rd one-run victory in their last four chances and breaking a small 2-game winning streak.
The start of the game almost isn't worth discussing--we've seen it before. In the 2nd inning, Josh Willingham hit a solo shot to left field, placing the Twins ahead 1-0. That pitch was a meatball up in the zone, a microcosm of Duffy's inability to execute. Duffy was all over the place, walking 6 batters in 5 2/3 innings and giving up a handful of other hits, but he squirmed his way out of any additional damage through nifty defense and poor baserunning. In the third inning, Salvador Perez mounted his cannon, firing a shot to first base and picking off Eduardo Nunez. The next inning, Duffy showed off his own pickoff move, erasing Sam Fuld from the basepaths. Later that inning, the Twins attempted a double steal, which succeeded--but Brian Dozier was thrown out at home after Perez's throw bounced off of Moose's glove and went right to Omar Infante.
Despite an absurd army of baserunners that would make Soviet Russia proud, the Twins could not score more than one run against Duffy, even after loading the bases in the sixth inning. For the longest time, though, it looked like that was all they needed. The Royals sputtered and stumbled their way to a few singles and no runs for five straight innings. After the almost-debacle of the top of the sixth, I asked the Royals Review hivemind their thoughts in Haiku form, for the game was on track for a typical Royal snoozefest:
"Duffy is wasteful
Offense can’t score any runs
Our Time. Be Royal." -- Loose Seal
"Hughes throws strikes
We cannot hit shit on this day
Duffy? Shit out of luck." -- philofthenorth
"Duffy can’t throw strikes
Pitch count is getting sky high
Phil Hughes is Cy Young" -- buddyball
"Didn’t turn it on
Mainly because I think I’ve
Seen it already." -- 2X2L
"Offense sucks, no runs
That about sums up the year.
Obsessed with winning." -- thayne_griffin
Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your point of view, the Royals' offense came to life in the bottom of the sixth inning. Infante led off with a single, and after back-to-back doubles by Perez and Alex Gordon, the Royals led 2-1. Moose added a double to make it 3-1 and Royals fans were feeling good--or at least as good as you can feel as a Royals fan.
In the top of the 7th, Ned elected to use LOOGY Scott Downs to take out Scott Parmelee. This did not work. Kelvin Herrera replaced Downs and promptly gave up back-to-back singles to make it 3-2 Royals. However, Herrera turned up the heat, touching 101 MPH, and struck out two batters to end the inning.
Wade Davis predictably dominated in the eighth--his ERA is now 0.99--but Greg Holland attempted to create some additional tension in the ninth. After a quick out, Holland walked Nunez, who advanced to second and third base on wild pitches in the inning. However, he struck out Danny Santana and Fuld, leaving the third run 90 feet from home plate.
The Royals currently stand 54-52, five games out from the Tigers and three and a half from the Wild Card slot. They still need an extended winning or losing streak to escape purgatory and some fantastic luck to make the playoffs, especially with this offense. Additional Haikus elaborate upon the matter:
"Ride the doubles train
to victory versus Twins
Still no contention" -- thayne_griffin
"Raise your hand if you
Want the Royals to win tonight
No hands. I thought so." -- pete_clarf
"This team is crappy.
Crappy, Crappy, Crappy Crap
Crappy Crappy Crap" -- Loose Seal
Are they crappy? I'd say no. Mediocre? Almost certainly so.
Prove us wrong, Royals.