The Royals and Twins played a real baseball game tonight. It wasn't one rife with heated conflict. Dugouts and bullpens didn't clear out. Heated words did not appear to have been shouted from one to another from the safe confines of each team's dugout. It was the pastoral national pastime about which writers for more than a century have waxed poetic, pure in heart, innocent in intent.
After an embarrassing weekend for the Royals and to a lesser degree the Oakland Athletics, tonight's much more traditional tilt between the intradivisional foes was a welcome palate cleanser to the [insert name of foul sandwich filled with human waste here] forced down everyone's throat over the past three days. Never have metaphorical oyster crackers tasted so good.
Of course, Minnesotans who were stuck watching this Twins defense are likely singing a different tune in the wake of this sloppy game that turned a close game into a 7 - 1 Royals rout. Oswaldo Arcia played a particularly poor left field this evening, but the quartet of Danny Santana, Brian Dozier, Jordan Schafer, and Torii Hunter watched a Kendrys Morales lazy fly to shallow right center fall between them that did not look deep enough to plate Mike Moustakas who stood at third base after a lead-off eighth-inning double to the corner in left and getting bunted over by Eric Hosmer. Moustakas was the first of three runs scored in their final trip to the plate. The final two were plated by another electric triple from Paulo Orlando, but more on that later.
Kyle Gibson, who in his previous four starts against the Royals had shut them down completely, worked inefficiently early--tallying a pitch count of 42 by the end of the second inning--but thwarted potential offensive attacks until the third. These early chances included an ill-advised green light from third base coach Mike Jirschele granted to the plodding Salvador Perez attempting to score from first on an Alex Gordon double to the wall in straightaway center in the second with one out. Perez was thrown out by a comfortable margin as anyone would expect when hearing that Salvador Perez was trying to score on an Alex Gordon double from first base. This base-running gaffe initially appeared to have been much more costly than it ended up being, as the Royals quickly loaded the bases on back-to-back hard-fought walks from Paulo Orlando and Christian Colon before Jarrod Dyson went chasing the first pitch he saw and grounded it to Danny Santana at short.
In the third, however, Eric Hosmer walked and ball four was a wild pitch occurring with Alcides Escobar standing at third base, tying the game at 1 - 1 following a second-inning run scored on an Eric Hosmer throwing error while he attempted to turn the mythic 3-6-3 double play.
The score remained one run apiece until the sixth inning, when the Royals finally got to
Cy Kyle Gibson. The frame started with a Mike Moustakas routine fly ball to left fielder Oswaldo Arcia. Arcia failed to watch it into his glove, and Moustakas unexpectedly found himself standing safely at first base. After an Eric Hosmer walk, early-season revelation Kendrys Morales doubled down the third-base line and drove in the second Royals run of the night. Paul Molitor summoned Blaine Boyer to try to clean up Gibson's mess, but rather than hold the game at a close 2 - 1 score, Boyer uncorked a wild pitch of his own, allowing Hosmer to score and Morales to move 90 feet to third. Salvador Perez sent the fourth pitch he saw to center and hit it deep enough to plate the similarly slow Morales, and the Royals owned a three-run lead with three earned runs charged to their previous foil, the former Missouri Tiger Gibson.
Any further scoring would not have been necessary, but the Kendrys Morales "single" described above highlighted another three-run inning in the eighth.
Edinson Volquez was once again everything Dayton Moore hoped he would be when the Royals inked him to a two-year deal (with a mutual option, of course) in the offseason. Despite much derision leading into the season for the signing, early returns are promising. The right-handed veteran pitched seven strong innings, allowing five hits and one walk while striking out five en route to allowing just that second-inning run that was earned solely because a double play cannot be assumed on an error. Volquez lowered his ERA to 1.99 on the season, notching his second win of the season. Sunday's villain Kelvin Herrera recorded the hold in the eighth, and Ryan Madson impressed in a non-save situation after the Royals added those three insurance runs in the home half of the eighth. For those wondering at home, Herrera did not throw behind anyone this evening.
As for the Royals offense, the heart of the order each reached base safely two times apiece and only Jarrod Dyson, who started in center in Lorenzo Cain's stead, did not reach base. Paulo Orlando recorded his fifth triple in the eighth, plating two runs. The 29-year-old rookie leads the league in the category by two, despite having half the plate appearances of his next nearest competition in the category, Sam Fuld.
With tonight's win, the 10 - 3 Royals match the idle New York Mets for the second-best record in baseball, trailing the Detroit Tigers--who won earlier this evening behind another strong start from Alfredo Simon--by a game.