Sonny Gray was lights out and Minnesota scored early to cruise to a 4-0 victory over Kansas City.
Zack Greinke labored through the first inning as the Twins grinded out at-bats. They led off the inning with consecutive singles, followed by a Jose Miranda GIDP that scored leadoff hitter Luis Arraez. Greinke then uncharacteristically walked Gio Urshela on four pitches. This was proceeded by a single, a two-run double, and a walk. With the bases loaded and two out, Greinke finally managed to retire Sandy León on his 40th pitch to end the inning. Five plate appearances went at least five pitches, each Minnesota hitter got to take their hacks, and the Twins finished the first with a 3-0 lead.
Greinke managed to settle in afterwards, navigating the next three innings on 41 pitches while only allowing one baserunner. However, despite sitting at 81 pitches, Mike Matheny did not bring him out for the fifth inning. Perhaps Matheny didn’t want Greinke to face the order for a third time? Beats me. Enter Jose Cuas. He struck out Carlos Correa to lead off the inning but then walked Miranda. After a seven-pitch battle with Urshela, Cuas plunked him with the eighth pitch of the plate appearances. Enter Amir Garrett. He duffed a return throw from Salvador Perez, but otherwise escaped the inning unscathed.
I haven’t even talked about the other side of this game yet. Suffice to say, Gray was dealing up to this point. The Royals got a single from MJ Melendez in the third to break up the no-hitter, but otherwise Gray baffled the Royals hitters. He carved through five innings with his fastball-curveball combination striking out five hitters, four of whom went down looking. He was efficient, getting through five with a very nice 69 pitches thrown. Only three Royals reached base through the first five and only one got into scoring position.
Anyway, on to the sixth. The Royals broadcast mentioned that Sonny Gray has only allowed one homer to the Royals in his career. I immediately knew what they were referring to. See if you can guess who hit it before clicking on this box score. The Royals had their best scoring opportunity yet in the sixth. With one out, Bobby Witt Jr. lashed a double to the right-center gap. But Perez went down looking. It’s always odd to me to see Perez get a backwards K given how much he swings. Then Vinnie Pasquantino flew out to end the inning. We’ve seen some long scoreless streaks for the Royals this year. We’re not in one of those now, but I’d like to point out that after the sixth, Kansas City had scored in just one of their previous 18 innings.
In the bottom of the sixth I kinda checked out to make some tacos al pastor. Seemed like the right time given the Royals’ inability to hit and that Carlos Hernández came in to pitch. I still think he can be an effective reliever, but he’s been just about unplayable this year. He did manage a scoreless sixth. I don’t mind being proven wrong in this scenario.
Gray capped off his night with a dominant seventh inning, punching out Ryan O’Hearn and Michael A. Taylor looking and getting a weak grounder from Hunter Dozier. Meanwhile, Hernández was unable to manage a second scoreless inning, surrendering a run on a sac fly to push Minnesota’s lead to 4-0.
The rest of the game went about as you might expect. The Royals got the leadoff batter on in both the eighth and ninth innings, but failed to advance them any further. Old friend Jorge López tossed a scoreless ninth to give the Twins a 4-0 victory.
- The Royals have only scored in one of their last 22 innings, that being their late rally in the ninth on Tuesday.
- The Royals have lost five straight games in Minnesota, and have been outscored 5-27.
- 4-9 in the order went a combined 2-20 with two hits, one walk, and seven strikeouts. Both hits came off the bat of Michael Massey.
- Massey was also the only Royals batter that did not strand a runner.
- Seven of Gray’s eight strikeouts were looking, the most backwards K’s any pitcher has had in a game this season.
- The last game in which the Royals were shut out was August 17, also in Minnesota. They have been shut out six times since the All-Star break. Half of those were in Minnesota, the other half happened in three consecutive games.
- This is the first game in which Gray has pitched at least seven innings since June 27. He has thrown 19 innings against Kansas City this season and allowed only one run.
The loss drops the Royals to 57-86. They remain three games ahead of Detroit for last place in the division. Meanwhile, Minnesota gets back over .500 with the win and keeps pace with the division-leading Guardians, who also won today. The Royals will try to salvage the third game of the series Thursday evening.
Zack Greinke - 4 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 0 HR
Sonny Gray - 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, 0 HR
Michael Massey - 2-3
Gary Sánchez - 1-4, 2B, 2 RBI