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Twins 4, Royals 3: The “THROW A DAMN STRIKE” game

This one was painful.

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Minnesota Twins Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals just can’t beat the Twins this year. It’s maddening.

Kansas City took a 3-1 lead into the ninth inning, but it couldn’t hold on and beat Minnesota. The Twins walked off the Royals in the 10th, 4-3, to take the series opener.

In the second, Jorge Bonifacio, who played a vital role in 100% of the Royals’ scoring output, led off with a walk. Whit Merrifield took his place after a fielder’s choice, and Alex Gordon singled to put runners on the corners with two outs. It was then when Cheslor Cuthbert, who entered the game 7 for 49 on the year, lined a single back up the middle to give the Royals a 1-0 lead.

The other run-producing hit from the Royals offense came from Bonifacio, who came up with Eric Hosmer on first and two men out in the third inning. Bonifacio jumped on a fastball from Twins starter Hector Santiago and blasted it into the bleachers in left field. The two-run jack was the third homer of Bonifacio’s season and career. 3-0, Royals.

From there, neither team produced much offense. Minnesota got a run in the bottom of the fourth on Robbie Grossman’s solo home run, his third of the year. Other than that, Nate Karns was in control, even though he didn’t have a particularly long outing. Karns allowed the one run in five innings, throwing 72 pitches on the night. With a rested bullpen, Ned Yost didn’t hesitate to hand the ball over for the bottom of the sixth.

Karns’ final line: five hits, one run, three strikeouts, and no walks. He was in line to earn the win.

The Royals’ bullpen was fantastic... for awhile. Matt Strahm handled the sixth, while Mike Minor took the seventh. Both men worked around a walk to get through their respective innings.

Joakim Soria got through a somewhat-bumpy eighth inning in which the Twins snuck two singles through the infield defense, but he got some major help from Alex Gordon. With two on and two out, Max Kepler lined a bullet to left field, one that appeared destined to drop and cut into the Royals’ lead. But Gordon dove headfirst and snagged the liner just before it hit the ground.

Alex Gordon is the best defensive outfielder of the 2010s. When you think about it that way, it’s pretty cool.

Then Kelvin Herrera entered. He blew his second save of the year when Kennys Vargas hit a pinch-hit, two-run homer to tie the game.

Here’s a stat to consider: that’s the second time in 2017, already, that Herrera has blown a save by giving up a home run. The last time a Royals closer blew a save by surrendering a homer before that? Greg Holland on May 5, 2014. It was so, so rare for either Holland or Davis to give up home runs, and they /never/ did it when it would factor in the final result. It’s amazing.

That’s when Al Alburquerque, who is bad, took over in the 10th and walked the first two guys of the inning. He gave way to Travis Wood, who is so freaking terrible that it’s impossible to put into words, and he walked the first guy he faced. Bases loaded, no outs.

Wood finally threw a strike to Jorge Polanco, but he whacked it to left field for a walk-off sacrifice fly.

Travis Wood is the Steve Physioc of baseball players.

Alburquerque took the loss. Whatever.

The Royals are 17-24. Ugh.

Tomorrow: well, on paper, the Royals will activate Ian Kennedy and try to even the series, but the 1:10 pm start appears to be in jeopardy due to weather. Recent forecasts were calling for a 100% chance of rain in Minneapolis at 1:00, and it wasn’t showing much hope for improvement throughout the day. Either way, Kennedy will be activated and start the next game for Kansas City.