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The expected occurs and the Royals lose 6-5

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Who could have guessed that a bullpen game featuring an aging former starter and an erratic future starter could lead to a loss? Oh, right, everyone.

Carlos Hernandez throws a pitch Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t let the score fool you, the Royals should have been blown out in this game. The Twins had runners on base all day but managed to find ways to fail to score runs much like the Royals did during their losing streak a couple of weeks ago. That let the Royals convince themselves they were in it all day but between Ervin Santana’s endurance, Carlos Hernández’s accuracy, and Whit Merrifield’s contact ability the Royals never really had a chance even with all of Minnesota’s gifts.

If you missed the gamethread, I just want to say I told you so. Santana couldn’t get deep into the game, he pitched only three-plus innings. That forced Mike Matheny, without any other long-relief options available, to go to Hernández. Hernández immediately walked the first two batters he faced to load the bases with no outs. The fact that he escaped the inning only allowing two total runs has more to do with Minnesota failing to get the job done than anything Hernández was doing. In fairness to Hernández, he did settle down after that inning and pitched pretty well for the rest of the day. His stuff was absolutely filthy and it’s not hard to see why the Royals are high on him; it’s also not hard to see that he simply isn’t ready for the big leagues, yet.

On the offensive side, Merrifield did his best to make sure Minnesota escaped this game with a win. He hit into two key double plays. One in the third inning immediately following a leadoff walk from Cam Gallagher and before a single by Carlos Santana and a two-run home run by Salvador Perez. He also hit into a double play in the top of the eighth after Hanser Alberto and Cam Gallagher had just welcomed Hansel Robles into the game with line-drive singles. It scored the third run but effectively ended the rally.

The Royals finally put together a strong rally in the ninth inning where Merrifield couldn’t affect it. Kelvin Gutierrez led off with a double down the line and Adalberto Mondesi took Twins closer Taylor Rogers deep to bring the game within one. Unfortunately, Rogers buckled down and retired Hunter Dozier, Andrew Benintendi, and Hanser Alberto to end the game.

Notes

  • When Josh Donaldson scored the Twins’ run in the first it was the two-millionth run scored in baseball - for now. Once MLB finally adds the Negro Leagues' stats in, that run will have been scored a while ago.
  • A lot will probably be made about homeplate umpire Tim Timmons’ terrible strike zone today. And it was awful. But really, the team just didn’t take advantage of the opportunities they were given so there’s no guarantee that had they received the ones they expected from Timmons the results would have been any better.
  • Jorge Soler left the game early with groin discomfort. It seems he will finally get the time off he’s been needing. Maybe Matheny can give Whit a day or two without waiting for him to get hurt.

The Royals can, perhaps, claim a moral victory in that Adalberto Mondesi continues to look like Family Matters’ Stefan instead of Steve. Adding the good version of Mondesi to this team seems likely to lead to a nice winning stretch sooner or later. Until that happens, though, the Royals continue to be just good enough that they could have made the post-season with 2020’s rules but probably won’t, this year.

The Royals will try to take the rubber match and split their road trip, tomorrow. A recently-effective Brad Keller (4-4, 5.72 ERA) will face off against oft-ineffective Matt Shoemaker (2-5, 5.48 ERA.) A series win would go a long way to washing the bad taste of today’s listless loss out of Royals fans’ mouths.