The Royals have been cursed by two innings so far this season - the second and seventh. That oddity continued on Thursday as they gave up a pair of runs in both frames to fall 5-3 to the Twins. The loss drops the Royals to 0-3 as they get swept in Minnesota for the first time since April 11-13, 2014.
Jason Hammel, much like Ian Kennedy yesterday, struggled with his command, walking four hitters in five innings. In the second inning, after a Miguel Sano single, Jason Castro drew his sixth walk of the series. Jorge Polanco would drive home a run to put the Twins on the board. Castro would score when the Royals were not quite able to turn a double play, making it 2-0 Minnesota.
The Royals offense woke up a bit after scoring just a single run in each of the first two games in the contest. Salvavdor Perez led off the fifth with a solo home run to put the good guys on the board. After a rare Paulo Orlando walk, Alcides Escobar doubled, allowing Orlando to score on a wild throw home to tie the game 2-2.
But Hammel immediately gave the Twins the lead in the bottom half of the inning. Brian Dozier, who had an unusually quiet series, singled to start things off, then scored on a Max Kepler double. Hammel worked around the rest of the lineup, including an intentional walk of Sano, and exited after walking the leadoff hitter in the sixth, having given up three runs in five innings, with two strikeouts.
Mike Moustakas again tied things up in the sixth with his second home run of the year on a low offering from starter Kyle Gibson. The Royals would then load the bases on singles by Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer and a walk to Brandon Moss. However Paulo Orlando and Alcides Escobar failed to plate any more runners.
Travis Wood again struggled with his command in the bottom of the sixth, walking lefty Eddie Rosario, but he escaped unscathed. Mike Minor came on in the seventh and gave up back-to-back RBI doubles to Jason Castro and Jorge Polanco to continue the Royals woes in the seventh inning. The Royals have given up 21 runs this year - 19 have come in either the second or seventh innings.
It is only three games, and it is a long season, but the brutal play of the Royals has many fans wondering what happened to the team that won two pennants and the second-most games in the American League over the last four seasons. Six regulars are hitting .200 or worse, the bullpen has an ERA of 15.75, and a Royals starting pitcher has yet to throw a pitch in the seventh inning. There is plenty of time to turn around but the schedule does not get any easier this weekend in Houston. The Royals have to start winning soon before the season begins to snowball out of control.