One of the trademarks of this Royals run has been their ability to fight back and win games they looked out of. Things looked grim in the 4th inning with the Royals down big today but they would turn around in a hurry.
As mentioned in the game preview, Luke Farrell made his major league debut today and the results were less than stellar. His first major league pitch was a called strike and he threw 73 more but didn't make it out of the 3rd inning. In the 2nd, with 2 outs, when the Twins did so much of their damage today, the bases were loaded. Farrell walked Brian Dozier and Robbie Grossman to plate the first two Minnesota runs of the day.
But, as the Royals did all game, they clawed back into things. Alcides Escobar continued his hot hitting with a 2-out RBI single, plating Salvador Perez to cut the lead in half.
Leading off the third, Miguel Sano crushed one to deep center, into the fountains to get the run right back. Max Kepler then doubled but picked up two outs and it looked like Farrell would get out of it. But Jorge Polanco singled home Kepler to make it 4-1. Byron Buxton singled and Farrell's day was done.
FYI: Mike Moustakas and Joe Mauer also traded defensive gems in the 3rd, both going into the stands. On one of the aforementioned outs, Moose dove into the Royals dugout. In the bottom of the inning, Mauer had to lean into the Twins dugout (actually it was more like the camera well) to assist their pitchers. Both are on the MLB video feed and Moose's is particularly good.
Strahm gave up a single to noted Royal killer Brian Dozier (note: according to b-r, he really isn’t but it just seems like it) and it looked like it might be a long day with the Twins up 5-1. Strahm got the first two out in the 4th but he hit Kepler with a pitch and then walked Kennys Vargas and Chris Gimenez to load the bases. However, he dropped down on the last couple of pitches to Gimenez and his velocity dipped to 91 on the final pitch. This prompted a visit by pitching coach Dave Eiland and then trainer Nick Kenney and Strahm's day was done. The official word in the middle of the game, per the Twins broadcast, was left knee inflammation and he is day-to-day.
Scott Alexander got the cliche "all the time he needed to warm up" and, mercifully, ended the threat with a harmless Jorge Polanco ground out. It didn't look significant at the time but would prove to be as the Royals struck in the bottom of the 4th.
Twins starter Jose Berrios wasn't exactly cruising along. He would only make it through 5 on 102 pitches and the Royals had runners on every inning he pitched. Mike Moustakas led off with a, as Ryan described it, "way out of here" home run #22 (Balboni Watch!) to left. Brandon Moss singled and Alcides Escobar followed with the second Escobomb of the season and, suddenly, the Royals were right back in the game!
Alexander stranded two in the 5th and that gave Brandon Moss a chance to tie the game. Right after after Rex requested "give that ball a drink" and, more importantly, philofthenorth said "Time For Moss / To randomly run into one", he destroyed a baseball over all three walls in center field. Unofficially, it's the longest Royals HR of the season at 474 feet.
Mike Minor came in for the 6th and, while all three outs came by strikeout, he mixed in doubles to Vargas and Polanco (with 2 outs, natch) that gave the Twins back the lead.
The Royals took the lead for good with another round number in the 6th. With one out Whit Merrifield doubled. Ramon Torres doubled him home to tie the game. Lorenzo Cain singled to put two on and stole 2nd so both were in scoring position. Eric Hosmer grounded out and it looked like Tyler "incorrect speller" Duffey" would get out of the inning. But Salvador Perez smoked a single to left center, giving the home nine their first lead of the game: 8-6.
In the 7th, Alex Gordon was the last of the starting 9 to get a hit. And he emphatically joined the hit parade, crushing his 4th home run of the season, a 3-run shot. Joakim Soria pitched a perfect 8th and Neftali Feliz finished off a shaky 9th, walking the first two but then striking out the last three (albeit on 30 pitches).
The Royals and Twins are both now 40-39. With another game starting in a couple of hours, it's probably best to not dwell too much on the standings as things will change again today. But this win does put the Royals temporarily in a tie for 2nd place, their highest spot all year. As the Indians lost the first game of their doubleheader today, the Royals are only 2 back of the Indians. Rookie Felix Jorge will make his MLB debut in game 2 for the Twins and Jason Hammel goes for KC. Second game thread will be up closer to game time.