Kansas City’s bats did just enough tonight as the pitching staff shut down the Minnesota offense in Wednesday’s 2-0 victory at Kauffman Stadium.
Lynch faced the minimum in a scoreless first inning aided by a double play off the bat of Carlos Correa. The Royals responded immediately in the bottom of the frame. Whit Merrifield led off the inning with a flyball to left off Twins starter Chris Paddack that would have been a home run if not for a leaping catch attempt at the fence by Trevor Larnach. The ball bounced off his wrist, forcing Merrifield to settle for a double. Nicky Lopez then reached on an infield single that moved Merrifield to third. Bobby Witt Jr. subsequently slapped a ball on the ground to Correa for an easy double play, but Merrifield was able to come home on the play, giving the Royals a 1-0 lead. This was just the third time this season that the Royals have scored first in a game.
After this run scored, Paddack retired Salvador Perez on a groundout and the pitchers for both teams subsequently settled in. Lynch and Paddack traded zeroes for the next three and a half innings, with the Twins scattering baserunners here and there and Paddack at one point retiring 11 consecutive Royals hitters. In the bottom of the 5th, the Royals managed to get to Paddack again. Andrew Benintendi reached on an infield single to lead off the inning. Hunter Dozier grounded a single up the middle that advanced Benintendi to third. After swinging and missing on a first pitch fastball, Mondesi bunted a curveball from Paddack for a single that brought Benintendi home for a 2-0 lead.
Lynch allowed a single to Correa to lead off the 6th inning and was pulled for reliever Collin Snider. With a full count on Gio Urshela, Snider was able to coax a ground ball double play to end the threat. With the baserunner he allowed erased, Lynch would end his night with five scoreless innings pitched, allowing four hits and one walk while striking out two. The Royals bullpen took control from there. Jake Brentz threw a 1-2-3 7th inning with a pair of strikeouts. Josh Staumont got the same result in the 8th inning. Scott Barlow allowed a one-out single to Max Kepler in the 9th, but promptly coaxed a groundball from Gary Sanchez for a game-ending double play.
The Royals have now won three consecutive games and have secured their first series win of the season. The bullpen has thrown 17.1 consecutive scoreless innings dating back to last Thursday’s game against Detroit. The Royals will attempt to complete the sweep tomorrow afternoon.