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The Royals do what they’re good at, losing 3-1 in Minnesota

A sterling Duffy outing was squandered

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

The Royals scored a run. Then they stopped.

Facing somewhat deserving All-Star José Berríos, the Royals’ offense—one whose lack of good wood on balls would suggest that deforestation is a serious problem—didn’t do a whole lot. This is par for the course for this sad incarnation of the recently proud Royals. Hurtling toward 110(?) losses, the Royals’ wretched offense managed a mere six baserunners through seven innings. One—Alex Gordon, who reached on a third-inning double and was driven in by a subsequent Alcides Escobar double—scored.

To his credit, Danny Duffy actually limited the damage done by the less bad Twins’ offense, working through six scoreless innings despite struggling to get out of both the first and third frames unscathed. In a laborious scoreless outing, the Royals’ southpaw still managed an admirable nine strikeouts to two walks and six hits.

Unfortunately, Duffy’s pitch count numbered 109 at the end of the visitors’ half of the sixth, which meant Ned Yost and the Royals needed to turn to their appalling bullpen to hold the Twins scoreless for three innings. Yost turned to sidearmer Tim Hill in the seventh. Hill immediately yielded a lead-off seventh-inning double to career backup catcher Bobby Wilson. Molitor yanked Wilson off out for pinch-runner Jake Cave. Joe Mauer singled to put runners on the corners, and aspirant All-Star Eddie Rosario stepped to the plate with a chance to change the outcome of the game. Hill jumped ahead 0-2 against Rosario, but the Twins’ left fielder fouled off everything within three feet of the strike zone working back into a 2-2 count on eight pitches before grounding out to third on pitch number nine of the plate appearance. That ground out sent Cave racing across home plate, knotting the game up at one run apiece.

With the go-ahead run in scoring position, Yost Sveum(? - Yost got ejected) fingered the righty Kevin McCarthy to try to take care of The Royalkiller, Brian Dozier and Eduardo Escobar. McCarthy and Dozier battled to a full count in an eight-pitch to-do before Dozier watched ball four sail by well outside of the strike zone. With two aboard, McCarthy wasted little time in falling behind with Escobar, too, digging a 3-1 hole. Needing to throw a strike, McCarthy didn’t, missing low. That didn’t matter to Eduardo Escobar, who stroked what should have been ball four into shallow center, driving the go-ahead run across home plate in the form of Joe Mauer. Runners on the corners and now trailing 2-1, McCarthy jumped ahead against Robbie Grossman before getting Grossman to line out to short for the second out of the seventh. K-Mac got Mitch Garver to ground out to close out the inning, but what had been a Royals’ 1-0 lead had turned into a 2-1 Twins’ lead.

Trevor Hildenberger pitched a scoreless eighth, striking out Whit Merrifield and Jorge Bonifacio and inducing a groundout from Mike Moustakas.

In an attempt to ensure that the game would not go into extra innings, Ned Yost another guy who coaches Royals turned to sentient gas can Brandon Maurer to work the bottom of the eighth facing the bottom third of the Twins’ order. Maurer tried his best, ceding another run to the Twins, but he only let the Twins extend their lead to 3-1.

This was still enough for the Royals’ meager offense to not be able to surmount in the ninth. Even Fernando Rodney “closing” out the game—Lucas Duda walked and Alex Gordon reached on an infield single—for the Royals wasn’t enough to turn the tide in the Royals’ favor.

The loss drops the Royals to a staggering 25-65. Their impotence continues to shock. The win brings the Twins to a mere 8.5 games back of first-place Cleveland with the Reds taking out Mike Clevinger and Company.