The final game of this series was much like the previous two for Kansas City: ineffective pitching, sloppy defense, and a complete lack of offense leading to an easy Twins victory.
Daniel Lynch looked like he was on his way to a breezy first inning after retiring the first two hitters on the first pitch. But Luis Arraez took a good slider the other way to get on base. Next up was rookie Jose Miranda, who reminded Lynch that he doesn’t have the fastball shape that plays at the top of the zone by crushing a high heater into the left field seats. 2-0 Minnesota.
The poor defense came through in the second inning. With Gilberto Celestino on first and one out, Max Kepler hit a bouncer to a shifted Michael Massey that had double play written all over it. But Massey threw it into left field, allowing Celestino to advance to third. He would round third and score thanks to a bizarre running throw from Brent Rooker in left field that had absolutely no chance at holding or nailing the runner.
It appeared early on that Tyler Mahle was in for a dominant start. After walking MJ Melendez to lead off the game, he retired the next seven straight Royals batters. But Kansas City appeared to catch a break in the third inning. Despite his effectiveness, something wasn’t right with Mahle. His average fastball velo this season is 93.4, but in this game, it was all the way down to 89.3. After striking out Nate Eaton on three pitches to lead off the frame, Mahle was pulled from the game with an apparent injury. He was replaced by Emilio Pagán, who picked up right where Mahle left off by retiring the next two hitters to end the inning.
The Twins tacked on another in the fourth when Nick Gordon swatted a meatball of a slider to right-center that was just a few feet shy of clearing the fence, scoring Gary Sanchez. At this point, the deficit was likely too much for the Royals to overcome, but could they at least snap their scoreless drought? At that point, their scoreless streak stood at 21 innings, having not pushed across a run since Vinnie Pasquantino’s first inning dong in the series opener. Still a ways to go to top their 31 inning drought from last month.
They could not. Runners on first and second in the fourth: double play off the bat of Rooker. Massey leadoff walk in the fifth: double play off the bat of Eaton. Consecutive singles leading off the seventh: nada. First and second with two outs in the eighth: easy groundout. Despite their starter failing to complete the third inning, the Twins cruised to a 4-0 victory.
The Royals went 0-5 with runners in scoring position today and just 1-21 in this series. They failed to record an extra base hit today and they have not done so since Ryan O’Hearn’s ninth inning double on Monday. Just three baserunners reached second base and none reached third. The scoreless streak now sits at 26 innings.
The current version of Daniel Lynch strikes me as a worse Danny Duffy or Blake Snell: big stuff from the left side, but maddeningly inconsistent and incredibly pitch-inefficient. He was not especially sharp today, but he still managed to gut out six innings for just the third time this season. Joel Payamps threw two scoreless innings, so I guess that’s something good.
The loss drops Kansas City to 48-71 this season. It is the first time they have been swept since May 30-June 1 in Cleveland. The Twins outscored the Royals 17-2 in the series. Kansas City will travel to St. Petersburg tonight for a four-game set against the Rays beginning tomorrow night.
Daniel Lynch - 6 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HR
Tyler Mahle - 2.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 0 HR
Vinnie Pasquantino - 2-4
Jose Miranda - 2-4, HR, 2 RBI, R