Today was apparently Father’s Day in both Brazil and for Brazilians in Minnesota. Paulo Orlando had a terrific day and it started early. Leading off the first inning he hit a 1-1 pitch high and deep to right field that carried until it bounced off the wall and led to - what else? - a triple. Despite some assertions that it could not continue, he's still produced hits and runs since being promoted to the lead-off spot.
Cheslor Cuthbert popped the second pitch he saw up to the second baseman, but Lorenzo Cain came through with another deep fly to right. This one was caught, but it was more then deep enough to score Orlando and give the Royals and early 1-0 lead
Edinson Volquez' gave up lots of hard hit balls that often found gloves. The first exception was a 3-1 fastball left over the middle to Brian Dozier with 2 outs in the third, which Dozier crushed to tie the game.
Cain wasn't going to stand for that, he led off the fourth by again belting it deep into right field, this time off the wall for a double. It looked like the Royals were going to fail to score again when Eric Hosmer grounded out to the catcher on one of the ugliest swings I've ever seen and Kendrys Morales hit a grounder to the right side that Brian Dozier made a pretty good play on. Fortunately, Salvy whipped a high and away fastball into left for an RBI single. He went to second when Robbie Grossman tripped over his own feet.
They weren't done, either. Alex Gordon ripped a fastball into right and Mike Jisrchele almost sent Salvy home when Max Kepler also fumbled the ball. Alcides Escobar collected his second hit of the day when he whacked a 2-RBI triple over center fielder Eddie Rosario's head. Rosario might have caught it, but he was playing very shallow. Santiago hit Christian Colon with the first pitch to him, though it did appear unintentional. Paulo Orlando revved the motor in anticipation of a boat race and turned on a hanging 2-2 change-up from Hector Santiago for an upper-deck 3-run home run.
Staked to a 7-1 lead, Volquez immediately walked Joe Mauer. He struck out Kennys Vargas on a hanging curveball, then induced a ground ball from Kepler. Unfortunately, three-time reigning gold glove winner Hosmer swiped and missed at it to put runners at first and second. Another grounder from Jorge Polanco was played much better by Hosmer for the second out. Eduardo Escobar hit another ground ball at Hosmer, and Hosmer whiffed on the backhand, allowing two unearned runs to score. Only a leaping catch by the Royals' Escobar on Juan Centeno's line drive ended the inning.
Cain, again faced with leading off an inning immediately after the Twins scored, again reached base; this time he did it on an infield single to the shortstop. Hosmer, in an attempt to atone for his defensive miscues, whipped a single into left field and chased Santiago from the game. Facing lefty reliever Ryan O'Rourke, Morales spat on three sliders out of the strike zone before ripping a fastball into left to load the bases for Salvy. Salvy also laid off O'Rourke's sliders in the dirt, so Centeno called for the fastball high and away and Sal swung through it for the first out of the inning.
O'Rourke tried both the slider away and the fastball up on Alex but failed to get him to strike out. So he put a slider in the bottom of the zone and Alex grounded into a double play. Bases loaded no outs results in 0 runs. A microcosm of this season; even in a dominating win the Royals found ways to infuriate.
As they say in baseball, the runs you don't score are scored on you. Fittingly Rosario led off the bottom of the fifth with a single, then stole second. Two outs later Mauer continued his punishment of Volquez with an RBI single, cutting the Royals' lead to 3. Suddenly what had seemed to be the beginning of a blow-out game was looking like it might be competitive after all.
Fortunately, the Twins decided they just did not want to win this game in the sixth. With one out Christian Colon reached on a fielding error by Jorge Polanco. Michael Tonkin came on in relief and walked Orlando, then Polanco bobbled another ball and put Cuthbert on to load the bases. Cain, having almost as good a game as Orlando, took a nice easy swing on a fastball down the middle to drive in 2, this time and chased Tonkin.
Left-hander Taylor Rogers came on and retired Hosmer on yet another weak groundball, which did at least advance the runners when Rogers had to field it himself and tag out Hosmer. The Twins thought they might escape the inning when Morales hit a line drive right at Grossman. Grossman, though, is a Twin and therefore dropped it for his team’s third error in the inning, allowing two more runs to score. Rogers, figuring the only outs he was going to get were the ones he did all by himself, struck out Salvy to end the inning.
Chris Young pitched three scoreless innings to record his first career save. In doing so he forced the Twins to ground into two double plays, tripling the number of double plays he has induced on the season.
Notes from today's game:
- Minnesota scored 75% of their runs via home run, this series. (8/12)
- Brian Dozier hit a home run in all three games after not hitting a single home run against the Royals last year.
- Volquez has now given up four or more runs in four straight starts. This does not sound like a guy who's going to turn down a qualifying offer this off season.
- The Twins are really bad at defense, even when they weren't committing errors there were at least half a dozen other plays that involved kicking, tripping over, and otherwise bobbling the ball.
- That's one way of saying that watching the Twins is a good way to remind yourself what the Royals used to be like as well as how different they are now.
- This is the point where I point out that Gordon looked good again today and suggest maybe he's about to get hot, but my heart isn't in it anymore.
- Paulo Orlando didn't hit the cycle, but he did reach base 5 times in 6 plate appearances, setting a new career high for total bases in a game at 9.
- Cheslor Cuthbert lost a 9-game hitting streak.
- At one point the Royals were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position, but ended 6-for-18.
The Royals WPA player of the game was Alcides Escobar, who edged out Paulo Orlando at 21% to 20%. Escobar was 3-for-5 himself with 2 RBI and a run scored. The Royals have now won three straight series for the first time since the middle of June, you may recall that streak was also against central division opponents and even included a home sweep of Cleveland. They’ll try to keep the streak alive when they head to Detroit tomorrow night where Ian Kennedy will face off against Daniel Norris.