clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Bobby Witt Jr. powers the Royals past the Twins, 8-5 to take series opener

First-place, smirst-place. These Twins ain’t Royal.

Minnesota Twins v Kansas City Royals Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Pull out the participation trophy, the Kansas City Royals avoided the losing streak this time! After dropping two of three to the Guardians earlier this week, they showed up with a strong showing tonight against the first-place Minnesota Twins. On a Friday night, heading into the final weekend before the August 1st trade deadline, it seemed like the Royals were happy to showcase some of their potential trade assets. Jose Cuas, Austin Cox, and Carlos Hernandez each pitched scoreless innings to lock down the win after Brady Singer spun a gem over five innings.

The night started for Singer with a strikeout of Carlos Correa. Two batters later he notched his second of ten strikeouts on the night before Salvador Perez — in as the starting first baseman — flashed the Gold Glove, this time not as a backstop, but in the field.

Perez flashed the leather multiple times throughout the night in his fifth career start at first base. It was his first since 2018. On the mound, Brady Singer looked sharp early and often. Through the first three innings, he allowed just three base runners, no runs, and struck out five. Then, in the bottom of the third, Kyle Isbel opened up the scoring for both sides with his home run to lead off the inning. It was his fourth big fly on the season and was the first home run for the Royals against Sonny Gray in 3,283 days. The last Royal to homer against Sonny Gray? Raúl Ibañez on August 1, 2014 against Oakland.

As is customary these days, the very next half-inning after the Royals took the lead, they gave it away. The Twins' half of the fourth started with a Max Kepler double to right field. Singer bounced back with two strikeouts but walked Willi Castro before Ryan Jeffers singled in a run to tie the game. Not soon after, with Joey Gallo at the plate, Minnesota put on the delayed double-steal that brought in another run.

The decision by Catcher Freddy Fermin to throw to second base was a costly one that allowed Willi Castro to steal home just one pitch after he was nearly thrown out after a huge lead off of third. Paul Hoover, the Royals’ bench coach, was seen coaching Fermin in the bullpen after the inning. The Twins threatened again in the visitor’s fifth inning but excellent first-base defense from Salvador Perez saved a run and kept the game within one.

Jose Cuas replaced Singer following that fifth inning, ending Singer’s night on 104 pitches. He allowed just four hits over five innings. Two runs scored against him and he struck out ten against just two walks. Since returning from the All-Star Break, Singer has now pitched 19.0 innings with a 3.78 ERA and 23 strikeouts against just three walks.

In relief, the Kansas City bullpen held it down through three strong innings from Jose Cuas, Austin Cox, and Carlos Hernandez. They combined to allow just one hit, one walk, and zero runs while striking out three. That bullpen performance, paired with some offense, gave the Royals the lead heading into the ninth inning. The lead came in the sixth inning when a Maikel Garcia triple got a man in scoring position with two outs. Bobby Witt Jr. hit a fly ball to left field that was ruled a home run but reviewed and overturned as a double instead.

That double scored Garcia and tied the game. The very next at-bat, MJ Melendez hit a line drive, opposite-field single to score Witt from second and give the Royals the lead.

Later in the night, Bobby Witt Jr. added his third hit of the night, scoring another run — his second RBI in the game — to add an insurance run and grow the Royals’ lead to two entering the ninth inning. With Scott Barlow entering the game, it looked like Kansas City would come away victorious.

Instead, Barlow struggled. A single from Byron Buxton started off the inning for Minnesota. Carlos Correa grounded out before Edouard Julien walked, putting two men on with just one out. The threat got worse when Barlow hit Donovan Solano with a pitch to load the bases. Max Kepler popped out to second base to give Kansas City hope but just one out away, Barlow allowed a line drive double to Jorge Polanco to tie the game at four.

The Royals were unable to score a run in the home ninth, taking the game to extra innings. It marked their 15th extra-inning game this season, tied with Cleveland and Detroit for the most in the Majors. They were 4-10 in those contests but tonight was different. The Twins scored another run in the top of the 10th against Taylor Clarke, but the Royals' offense wouldn’t quit. More specifically, Bobby Witt Jr. wouldn’t quit. Kyle Isbel stole third with one out. Then, Nicky Lopez and Maikel Garcia both walked against Jhoan Duran to load the bases with just one out.

With Witt at the plate, the Royals walked it off with a sensational grand slam into the left field fountains. It was the very first major league walk-off hit for Junior. He finished his night 4-for-5 with a double, home run, and six RBI. As Rex Hudler famously said after the home run, “He tried to sneak a piece of cheese by a hungry rat. You can’t do it.” 102 mph is a pretty fast piece of cheese.

Up Next for the Royals

The Royals continue the series against Minnesota tomorrow night. Jordan Lyles (1-12, 6.19 ERA) will face off against Bailey Ober (6-4, 2.76 ERA). Lyles is 0-2 in his career against the Twins with a 5.00 ERA over 5 starts. This season, he’s made two starts against Minnesota and owns a 7.71 ERA. First pitch will be at 6:10 CST.