The Kansas City Royals beat the Minnesota Twins tonight at Kauffman Stadium 8-1. The Royals scored five runs in the fourth inning and three runs in the ninth inning to bury the Twins, who were held to only a single run behind fantastic performances from Dillon Gee and Chris Young and, yes, that is a completely satire-free statement.
Twins starter Tyler Duffey has been very bad this year. The Royals this year have made very bad pitchers look very good. Indeed, it seemed to be that way again. For the first three innings, it was as if the Royals were facing Cy Young himself. Nine up, nine down, four strikeouts on 12 pitches, 30 total pitches required. It was, especially against the Twins, embarassing.
That all changed
when the fire nation attacked in the fourth inning, when Cheslor Cuthbert hit a bouncing grounder up the middle for a single. Lorenzo Cain walked, and Eric Hosmer fought back against an 0-2 count, but eventually grounding into a fielder's choice, taking Cain's space at first and moving Bert to third. Kendrys Morales walked, placing a Royal on each base.
With the bases loaded, Twins manager Paul Molitor sauntered out to Duffey to talk to him. What he said is anybody's guess, but for my money, it was probably something like "Don't throw Perez any strikes," aka the Madison Bumgarner approach to Perez pitching. It works.
Duffey proceeded to take this probable advice to heart, inducing a foul ball at a pitch at eye level...and then beaning Perez in the shoulder to tie the game at 1-1. "Don't throw Perez any strikes" is not mutually exclusive with "Try to hit Perez in the face," but you know.
Anyway, Duffey was understandably spooked by the prospect of pitching to white-hot Alex Gordon, and tried to work around him. It didn't work. Not even a little. In a 3-1 count, Duffey lobbed a get-me-over fastball down the middle.
Lo, Danger Ox. Gordon crushed the baseball. 5-1, Royals.
Gordon's recent return to relevance has been a breath of fresh air to this Royals offense. On August 7, he was hitting .199/.303/.327, looking every bit the overpaid veteran free agent. Since then, not including tonight, he has hit .400/.486/.667. Gordon will cool off again, but his recent bloom seems to give credence to the "Gordon is playing hurt" hypothesis.
The other big 'G' in this game was Dillon, and Gee was excellent. After a leadoff home run by Brian Dozier, who hits many of them, Gee locked down and efficiently eliminated the Twins lineup for seven strong innings, striking out seven and walking one. With a combined five baserunners after Dozier's homer, the Twins were unable to mount a successful offense. Young, who was deported from the rotation due to being terrible, has been quietly pretty good over his last five innings, two of which were tonight.
Kansas City pushed another couple runs across in the eighth inning, as Cuthbert (who collected three hits), Cain, and Hosmer scored, powered by a duo of ridiculous defensive errors by the Twins. That was overkill, but it's always nice to see more runs for the good guys.
The Royals are 61-60 and have three more games with the Twins before a road trip against the National League Miami Marlins and the American League Wild Card rivals Boston Red Sox.