Daniel Lynch struggled in the opening frame and allowed three runs, a familiar theme for Royals pitchers this year, as the Twins won the series opener 6-4 on Friday evening. Royals pitchers have given up 37 runs in the first inning this year, the most in baseball.
Lynch struggled with his control, walking Byron Buxton to start the game. Back-to-back singles by Carlos Correa and Kyle Garlick would plate the first run, and a Gary Sanchez double would score another. Gio Urshela’s sacrifice fly would make it 3-0 before the Royals even got their turn to hit.
The Royals got one run back on a sacrifice fly by Bobby Witt Jr., in the first, and MJ Melendez laced an impressive triple off the wall in the fourth, only to be stranded.
That would be all the offense the Royals could muster against crafty lefty Devin Smeltzer. Despite a fastball that sits at 90 mph, Smeltzer was able to carve through the Royals lineup, allowing just five hits and one run in 5 1⁄3 innings, with one walk and no strikeouts.
Meanwhile, Lynch would give up another run in the second to make it 4-1 Twins before exiting in the fourth. He would leave with a line of 3 2⁄3 innings pitched, five hits allowed, four runs (all earned), two walks, and two strikeouts. Among his 90 pitches, just 51 were for strikes.
The Royals chipped away in the seventh against Twins reliever Tyler Duffey. Carlos Santana led off the inning with his second home run of the year to make it 4-2. Emmanuel Rivera singled, and Kyle Isbel doubled him to third, with Rivera scoring on a sac fly from Whit Merrifield to bring the Royals within one run.
But in the eighth it was Dylan Coleman who struggled with his control, walking two hitters before Juan Miranda hit a fly ball that Kyle Isbel just missed by inches. Instead, it was a two-run double that would give the Twins a 6-3 lead.
The Royals rallied in the ninth to make things interesting. Rivera would smack his second home run of the year to make it a 6-4, and Kyle Isbel and Whit Merrifield each singled to put the tying run on base. But Andrew Benintendi struck out looking to end the game, and drop the Royals to 14-24.
The Royals and Twins face off again tomorrow at 6:10 CT with Joe Ryan facing off against Brad Keller.