The Royals offense has been listless much of the first two weeks of the season, but they hadn’t been shutout...until now. Despite a revamped lineup that had Nicky Lopez in the leadoff spot, Whit Merrifield bumped to #2, and Bobby Witt Jr. moved down to the seven spot, the Royals managed just three hits and put up goose eggs for nine innings in a 1-0 loss to the Twins on Thursday. The Royals failed to close out the series sweep and snapped their three-game winning streak to fall to 5-6 on the season.
Zack Greinke pitched well despite failing to miss bats once again. He allowed just one run in five innings and recorded his second strikeout of the season. But that one run would stand up as the Royals managed just two hits and a walk in six innings against Twins rookie starter Joe Ryan. The Royals had their best scoring opportunity in the fourth inning, when Andrew Benintendi launched a ball that seemed destined to be a home run and would have been in 29 other ballparks. But it stayed in the park, and because Benintendi watched his hit a bit, he had to stay at third base. When Salvador Pérez flied out to center, Benintendi was caught at home trying to score on a flyball to Nick Gordon, ending the inning.
The Twins scored the only run of the game in the second inning when Greinke issued his only walk of the game, a free pass to Gio Urshela to lead off the inning. Max Kepler singled to send him to third, and Urshela scored on a sac fly by Miguel Sanó.
The bullpen continued to be nails, with Gabe Speier, Taylor Clarke, and Dylan Coleman combining for four shutout innings with four strikeouts. The Royals did threaten a bit in the ninth with Michael A. Taylor leading off the inning with a walk against reliever Emilio Pagán. But Nicky Lopez - one of the best hitters in the lineup this year - squared to bunt and popped it up to catcher Ryan Jeffers for the out. Pagán retired Whit Merrifield and Benintendi to end the game.
The Royals will head out for a six-game road trip to Seattle and Chicago beginning tomorrow. Brad Keller is expected to get the start tomorrow night against the Mariners.