Ian Kennedy lasted just three innings, giving way to struggling pitchers like Trevor Cahill and Kelvin Herrera as the Royals fell to the Twins 8-5 to put them 4.5 games out of the Wild Card race.
The Twins scored right away off Kennedy, getting a sacrifice fly from Eddie Rosario, the first of his four RBI on the night. The Royals answered with a sacrifice fly of their own from Melky Cabrera to make it 1-1 after one inning. Brian Dozier singled home a run in the second to put the Twins on top, and Rosario added a solo home run in the third to make it 3-1. Kennedy labored, and was pulled after just three innings, having given up three runs on four hits with three walks. Ned Yost later said Kennedy had some “cuff tightness” that he had been dealing with the past month.
Ian Kennedy said he has shoulder tightness and is not sure he'll make his next start. Been trying to battle through it but command not there— Jeffrey Flanagan (@FlannyMLB) September 9, 2017
Trevor Cahill entered the game to remind Royals fans what a terrible trade the club made with the Padres. He loaded the bases on a double and two walks, then gave up a two-run single to Rosario. Eric Hosmer tried to get the offense going with his 24th home run of the year in the bottom of the fourth, but Eduardo Escobar answered with a solo home run of his own the next inning of Cahill to make it 6-2.
The Royals clawed their way back despite the lousy pitching. Three doubles in the sixth by Alcides Escobar, Alex Gordon, and Whit Merrifield off former Royals starter Ervin Santana plated a pair of runs. In the seventh, the Royals got back-to-back-to back singles from Escobar, Gordon, and Ramon Torres to make it 6-5.
But Kelvin Herrera put the game away, coming into the game in the eighth, after Ned Yost announced he would no longer take closing duties. Herrera was hit hard, giving up a double to Eduardo Escobar, a triple to Robbie Grossman, and a double to Joe Mauer. Two more runs would score to make it 8-5, as Matt Belisle retired the Royals 1-2-3 in the ninth to clinch the win.
If the Royals had been able to sweep the Twins, it may have given fans a glimmer of hope in the Wild Card race, but dropping the first two of the series may be the final nail in the coffin to the Royals’ 2017 season. With the pitching staff seemingly running on fumes, the Royals seem to be limping towards the finish line.