The last 60 days have been just brutal for Royals fans everywhere. Entering Friday night, Kansas City had lost 21 of its last 25 games, and there was absolutely nothing to be positive about during an ongoing nine-game losing streak.
But on Friday night, in front of the biggest crowd of the year at Kauffman Stadium, the Royals bounced back from an early deficit and gave their fans a lot to cheer about. It was a great night at the K, as the Royals beat the Minnesota Twins, 7-4.
Brady Singer opened the evening with more of what we’ve seen from the Royals recently, as he gave up back-to-back doubles, both on 0-2 pitches, to start his night. The third batter, Trevor Larnach, zipped a rope back up the middle that hit Singer on the hand. This knocked the ball down, Singer picked it up, and he fired it right past Salvador Perez, who was only 12 feet away. The result was an error and two runs scoring. Three batters in, it was already 2-0 Twins, and a third run scored later in the inning. Singer was a mess, the K was quiet, and it looked like the Royals were well on their way to a 10th straight loss.
But the offense battled back against J.A. Happ, who has been miserable as of late, with a three-run second inning to pull even. Salvador Perez, just hours after announcing he’d be participating in this month’s Home Run Derby, hit an opposite-field homer for his 20th blast of the season. Down 3-1, Hanser Alberto doubled, Hunter Dozier singled, and Michael A. Taylor doubled, bringing the score even at 3-3.
Dozier is still hitting a terrible .168, but he is showing signs of improvement, even if it’s by default. He’s now 6-for-19 in his last five games, which feels like .800 considering how his season has gone.
The Royals took the lead in the third inning when Hanser Alberto hit his first home run of the year, a two-run blast that just snuck over the left-field wall. A sixth run was added in the fifth, when Carlos Santana hit an RBI single to make it 6-3.
Arguably the biggest moment of the game happened in the sixth, when Minnesota loaded the bases with nobody out against Jake Brentz. The unthinkable happened when the Royals got a break, as Brentz forced a double play to limit the damage to just one run. Fireman Kyle Zimmer came on in relief and struck out Josh Donaldson to end the inning.
Kansas City got a seventh insurance run in the eighth when Nicky Lopez doubled and worked his way around the bases on a pair of wild pitches. 7-4.
Singer only lasted three innings, throwing 72 pitches to get nine outs. But the Royals’ bullpen was excellent. Richard Lovelady earned the win with two shutout innings in relief of Singer. Brentz executed when the bases were loaded, Zimmer was fantastic in 1.1 shutout frames, and Greg Holland breezed through the eighth. In the ninth, it was Scott Barlow, the correct choice at the moment to close out games, who got the final three outs.
Lovelady earned the win, the first in his big-league career despite pitching in 28 different outings. Barlow’s save was his third. He should be an All-Star.
Sal Perez had three hits. Santana had two. Alberto had two extra-base knocks. Whit Merrifield, because of course, had two more hits to raise his average to .289. And Lopez had a nice night too, getting on base twice and making a really nice leaping catch early on in the night.
This was a quality performance by the Royals. Down early, they were facing a pitcher that had been a disaster, and they did what they should do to him - knock him around. The K, by the way, was electric. What a great crowd, and what a great reward to see the team end the recent skid with an entertaining win.
The losing streak is history, and the Royals are 34-47. They’ll go for the series tomorrow when Danny Duffy gets the ball in his third game back from injury. Hopefully he can return to his early-season magic. First pitch is at 3:15 pm.