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Royals drop series finale to the Twins, 5-4

Kansas City couldn’t complete the comeback.

Whit Merrifield #15 of the Kansas City Royals dives back toward first base during the 1st inning of the game against the Minnesota Twins at Kauffman Stadium on August 23, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Royals couldn’t salvage the rubber match against the Minnesota Twins Sunday, as they dropped a close one, 5-4.

For the fifth time this season, Kris Bubic toed the slab in hopes of keeping the power-filled Twins lineup at bay. But in the top of the first with two outs, Minnesota strung together a few hits off the lefty. Miguel Sanó, who was ice-cold last weekend, pounded an RBI-double into the left-center field gap. Eddie Rosario drove Sanó home on the next at-bat to make it 2-0 Twins before the Royals came to the plate.

In the top of the third, the Twins came dangerously close to putting the game out of reach. After loading the bases with nobody out, Marwin González smoked a double to the left field corner to plate two runs. However, with runners at second and third and nobody out, Bubic worked out of it without allowing another run.

Kansas City managed to capitalize off Minnesota’s missed opportunity in the home half. With two outs and two on, Jorge Soler mashed a double to the left field wall to cut the lead in half at 4-2. But Maikel Franco struck out on a pitch out of the zone to prevent the Royals from plating any more runs.

Bubic was relieved by Tyler Zuber after collecting just one out in the fourth inning. Facing another jam with runners at the corners, Zuber served up a double play ball to Franco, who made a tremendous play to end the inning.

The bullpen continued to work around trouble all afternoon. Greg Holland took over for Zuber in the fifth with two on and nobody out. But Holland managed to roll up another double play and record a strikeout. Jesse Hahn escaped the seventh inning after walking the first two batters of the inning.

In the bottom of the seventh, Kansas City created noise with the bases empty and two outs. To start the rally, Hunter Dozier knocked his third hit of the day to right field, which chased Sean Poppen from the game. Sergio Romo came on to face Jorge Soler, who walked on five pitches. Looking to make up for his two strikeouts, Franco ripped an RBI-single off the glove of González at third base to bring home Dozier. But with the bases loaded, Adalberto Mondesi struck out on three pitches to end the frame. With runners in scoring position this season, Mondesi is 3-for-25 (.120) with 14 strikeouts.

Nelson Cruz hammered his sixth home run against the Royals in 10 games in the top of the ninth to give the Twins a 5-3 lead and ultimately put the final nail in the coffin.

Kansas City nearly mounted a comeback off of Twins’ lefty Taylor Rodgers in the bottom of the ninth. Franco drove in Dozier with two outs to cut the deficit to one, but Alex Gordon flew out to end the game. The loss is the Royals’ 17th in 28 games. Tomorrow, Brad Keller will face off with Jack Flaherty and the Cardinals. First pitch is slated for 7:15 p.m. CDT on FSKC.