The Royals used a trio of clutch hits to squeak past the first-place Minnesota Twins, 3-2, to start their series on Friday night.
Minnesota, doing what they do best, hit two solo homers in the first four innings (Buxton and Gonzalez) to take two different leads, but a trio of unsung heroes helped the Royals battle back. Nick Health hit an RBI single, and Nicky Lopez hit one of his own, but the game-deciding hit came from Ryan McBroom. He walloped a sixth-inning pitch to dead center and got it way over the wall, resulting in a 430-foot, tie-breaking homer.
The pitching staff was excellent. Jake Junis, making his second start of the year, got through 4.2 innings and held one of baseball’s best offenses to just two runs. The bullpen got the last 13 outs, and they were darn near flawless, allowing just a single baserunner in the game’s final 4.1 frames.
Greg Holland, who got the win, finished the fifth and handled the sixth. Josh Staumont picked up right where he left off in Chicago by throwing fire and striking out two Twins in the seventh, but he slipped on the mound and left for precautionary reasons. Scott Barlow picked him up and got four outs, and Trevor Rosenthal looked fantastic in the ninth to earn his second save of the year. The Royals’ bullpen tonight, as a unit: 4.1 innings, 0 hits, 1 baserunner, and 5 Ks.
These are the types of games fans want to see from the Royals. Their pitching staff is enough to keep games close. The offense needs to do just enough in clutch situations to pick the arms up, and on Friday night, that blueprint worked to perfection.
Praise needs to be given to Mike Matheny as well, who managed an excellent bullpen. Matheny has been great this year with pitching decisions. He pushed all of the right buttons on Friday to help get the Royals a win.
The record is 5-10. They need to win 7 of their next 10 or so to climb back in it, but the last two days have been a good potential start to that. Tomorrow, they’ll go for the series behind the arm of Danny Duffy, who opposes former Royal Jake Odorizzi at 6:05 pm.