We’re going to spend a fair amount of time talking about the hitting tonight, so let’s go ahead and talk about the pitching first. Danny Duffy was terrific through three innings, striking out four and allowing only two hits. Unfortunately, things were not so pretty in the fourth. He gave up a lead-off home run to Nelson Cruz and was visibly angry with himself. The anger only grew as he got a pair of flyouts from Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario. Then things fell apart completely as he gave up a single to Marwin Gonzalez, walked Luis Arraez, and then allowed Byron Buxton to homer for the third game in a row and give the Twins their only lead of the game.
The bullpen was not flawless, but they were good enough. Tyler Zuber gave up a run in 1.1 innings of work, Greg Holland defused the situation. Ian Kenned allowed a solo home run but also struck out a pair in his inning of work. Gabe Speier started the eighth inning in a move by Manager Mike Matheny who continues to impress me. Speier was allowed to face the lefties before Trevor Rosenthal came in to face Buxton and earn a four-out save.
Jake Odorizzi was as slow as ever in his first start of 2020, and the Royals didn’t make anything easier for him during his three innings. They managed to work him for a pair of walks and four hits including a home run. Ultimately he only gave up two total runs, but the Royals got into the Twins bullpen early and neither of the first two guys they faced had anything working.
We could talk about how Ryan O’Hearn had an RBI single and a pair of walks as he continues to look like a legitimate major league first-baseman again. We could talk about how Salvador Perez had three hits, including yet another double and a home run. Most of you probably expect me to focus on Jorge Soler’s two-home-run game. And sure, those are worth watching:
As noted earlier, the Twins took the lead in the fourth inning after Danny Duffy’s night came undone. It felt like another of those games where the Royals just wouldn’t be able to hang on while a clearly superior opponent batted them all around the ballpark. But one man was determined that things wouldn’t end there. That man, the hero Kansas City deserves but not the one it wants, was Nicky Lopez.
Nicky Lopez hit his first home run in a major league stadium - his home run last year was in TD Ameritrade Park, the park he had played college ball at in a special game to celebrate the College World Series - with a man on and tied the game back up. Without Nicky muscling up Soler and Salvy might not have had a chance to put the game out of reach.
Oh right, you probably wanna see Salvy’s blast-off, too, huh?
The Royals didn’t just muscle up, though. They used their legs to great effect, as well. Brett Phillips had a beautiful drag bunt for a single right after Nicky’s home run to keep the line moving and then he stole second. Adalberto Mondesi single-handedly sped his way to the Royals final run in the seventh. He hit an infield single, stole second, stole third, and scored on a wild pitch. It was a good night for the Royals’ lineup as they try to climb out of the hole they’ve spent the last week digging themselves into.
The Royals now have their first official winning streak of the 2020 season with three games in a row. They’ve also won their first series of the year and have an opportunity to go for the sweep tomorrow. The Royals will send rookie Brady Singer to the mound but the Twins will counter with ace Jose Berríos. Get used to this matchup, these two young pitchers figure to be in their respective teams’ rotations for a while.