The night started off well enough for the Royals. They struck in the second inning for a pair of runs when Ryan O’Hearn hit an RBI double and Meibrys Viloria hit a sacrifice fly to left. I’ll admit to not being 100% clear on the rule but it sure seems to me that Ryan McBroom should have been out on the play. The ball arrived before he did and though it was offline Twins’ catcher Jason Castro managed to apply a tag to McBroom, but when his glove hit the ground the ball popped out despite not moving at all in his glove before that. The umpire ruled him safe, however, and no one argued or challenged.
Things were not to continue like that, however. Glenn Sparkman pitched four innings and allowed only a solo home run to LaMonte Wade Jr and generally looked almost decent while doing it. But things unraveled for him in the fifth inning. A triple, a double, a walk, and a single put the Twins in front before Tim Hill was summoned from the bullpen. He allowed another RBI single before escaping the inning but the Twins, up 5-2, seemed likely to be just fine.
But José Berríos ran into his own trouble in the very next half inning. Jorge Soler fisted a single into left - up to this point many of the hits off of Berríos had been much like that - but then Hunter Dozier followed up with a solid line drive single of his own into left. Alex Gordon grounded into a double play and it seemed all hope was lost. Enter the Ryans. McBroom singled into right to drive in Jorge Soler and Ryan O’Hearn pulled a 1-1 pitch for a no-doubt home run into the second deck of right centerfield. Seriously, the Twins outfield didn’t even bother to take a step or turn to look. The game was tied up once more.
And that’s how it stayed as the bullpens battled until the ninth inning when Ned Yost got substitution happy and chaos reigned supreme. Ryan O’Hearn was allowed to stay in and face the left reliever. Ned’s faith paid off when O’Hearn fisted a groundball into center for a single. Erick Mejia came in to pinch run and Humberto Arteaga came in to pinch bunt for Viloria. We’ve seen that Viloria is a very good bunter in his own right so I’m not sure why that change but Arteaga got the job done. Then Cheslor Cuthbert pinch hit for Brett Phillips and ripped a line drive just a few feet inside the left field foul pole and barely over the wall to put the Royals in front by two.
Then the Royals made Yost look kind of dumb for the pinch-bunter thing by refusing to allow the inning to come to an end. Whit Merrifield and Adalberto Mondesi hit back-to-back weird doubles to add another run. Whit got his down the third base line before a fan interfered to put him at second and led to the first pitching change. Mondesi hit a groundball through the hole between short and third and raced to second before Eddie Rosario could get the ball there. Mondesi stole third and Jorge Soler hit a weak liner into left that Rosario could only trap. Hunter Dozier singled on a groundball up the middle, Nicky Lopez pinch ran for Soler, and Alex Gordon drove Lopez in with a single to left. Dozier and Gordon advanced to third and second respectively when Miguel Sano attempted to cut off the throw to home and had the ball clank off of his glove.
Ryan McBroom walked to load the bases and another reliever, Jorge Alcala in his major league debut, was called upon. Erick Mejia - remember he pinch ran for O’Hearn - battled for eight pitches before getting a soft liner into right that Marwin Gonzalez couldn’t quite corral. Humberto Arteaga, the pinch-bunter from earlier, popped out into left. Cuthbert earned an RBI walk. Finally, mercifully, Whit Merrifield was convinced to pop out into left on a 3-1 fastball down the heart of the plate.
tl;dr The Royals had an entire game’s worth of offense in a single inning off of three relievers who had threw more than 50 pitches combined.
The Royals did not lose their one-hundredth game, tonight. They have to win each of their remaining six games to avoid that mark. The Twins did drop their magic number to four as Cleveland lost their game in Philadelphia. They’ll complete the series tomorrow afternoon when Jorge López faces off against lefty Martin Pérez.