Things have certainly been looking up for the Royals over the last 10 games. Heading into Friday night with a 6-4 record in that span, Kansas City looked to earn at least a split against the division leading Minnesota Twins. Trading leads back and forth, Minnesota emerged victorious to come back and claim game two, 8-7.
Sending Jakob Junis out for his 16th start on the season, Kansas City hoped for a stronger outing from the right-hander after his previous one at Target Field didn’t go too well. Failing to record the final out in the fourth inning, Junis exited with two earned runs to his name on five hits.
In the top of the first, the Illinois native struggled to force weak contact. Fortunately surviving the inning without allowing a run, the Twins still barreled Junis. Smashing three balls over 103 mph, Minnesota was thankfully victim of some bad luck, only netting one hit of those three missiles.
In the bottom half, the Royals threw the first punches again just as they did on Thursday evening. With two outs, Cheslor Cuthbert whacked a double to the left field corner to plate a run and open the scoring. Playing in his second major league game, Humberto Arteaga bounced a chopper to Jorge Polanco at shortstop who botched the throw to first, pushing the second run across. Martín Maldonado followed that up by taking advantage of the shift and rolling a soft grounder towards a vacant second base. In total, Kansas City managed to score three in the first inning for the second time in as many days.
Back on the mound, Junis finally paid for all the hard contact he allowed in the first. C.J. Cron led off the second blasting a pitch up in the zone over the wall in left-center field. However, the right-hander settled in to retire the next three. From there, both pitchers found their groove over the next 2 1⁄2 innings.
Working through a jam in the top of the fifth, Junis attempted to put away Eddie Rosario with two on and two out. However, Rosario punched a single into right field to cut the deficit to one. The Twins outfielder then proceeded to swipe second base with a runner on third, resulting in Maldonado throwing wildly down to second and bring home the tying run.
Knotted up at 3-3, the Royals got their opportunity to answer in a hurry. Already driving in a run on the night, Cheslor Cuthbert padded to his RBI totals. Parking a go-ahead three-run bomb into the visitors bullpen in left, Kansas City grabbed their second three-run lead of the night. Junis successfully finished the sixth inning to complete his outing, striking out eight and allowing just two earned runs.
Handing the ball to Scott Barlow, who has been knocked around in the month of June, Minnesota jumped all over him to continue the trend. Surrendering two runs before he could record an out, Wily Peralta was asked the hold the one-run advantage with one on and nobody out. Escaping the seventh with no further damage, the Royals couldn’t breakthrough off the Twins bullpen in the bottom half.
Trying to limp their way to the ninth, Yost turned to Jake Diekman. Working a clean eighth inning the night before with two strikeouts, the lefty couldn’t duplicate his performance. Like Barlow, Diekman couldn’t notch out number one. Only this time, Minnesota took the lead before Diekman’s departure. Eventually tallying three runs in the inning, the Twins took the lead for the first time 8-6.
But as offense came easy to both clubs, Kansas City wouldn’t go away quietly. Jorge Soler, who leads the team home runs, cranked a solo shot to left field to lead off the inning.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Royals managed to get the tying run on, but Nicky Lopez lined into a double play to end the game. Blowing the lead against Minnesota for the third time this season, Kansas City will look to rebound tomorrow afternoon. Danny Duffy will go against José Berríos. First pitch is at 1:15 CT.