Seven-Run Inning, Three Dingers Lead Royals over Twins 12-6Follow @RoyalsBlue_com
The Royals are going to have an interesting decision on their hands next season when they decide what to do with Billy Butler and Josh Willingham. For now, though, the club is just enjoying the production both hitters are bringing to the table.
A seven-run second inning gave Jeremy Guthrie plenty of run support, but the offense also provided three home runs to pad the lead in the later innings. The result was another August win for the Royals, who improved to 68-55 and still have not lost back-to-back games this month.
After a 30-minute delay postponed the start time to 1:40, the Royals went down 1-2-3 on just eight pitches. Minnesota took a quick 1-0 lead on Guthrie, sparking some fans to declare the game over with at that point. They claimed that the inept lineup put together by Ned Yost wouldn’t be able to score a single run.
The Royals then struck for seven runs – in one inning. A single, a hit-by-pitch and a walk loaded the bases with none out against Tommy Milone. After Mike Moustakas fouled out, Alcides Escobar came through with a two-run single that put Kansas City in front. It was the fifth RBI of the series for the Royals shortstop.
Following that, Milone walked Jarrod Dyson to re-load the bases, and Nori Aoki continued his hot streak by singling home two more runs. Omar Infante then smoked a ground ball right to second baseman Brian Dozier, who misplayed the ball, allowing it to roll into right field. The mishap plated another pair of runs, and after surrendering a single to Salvador Perez in the next at-bat, Milone was pulled after just 1.1 innings. Billy Butler would tack on a seventh run with an RBI single against reliever Samuel Deduno.
It was the shortest outing in the career of Milone (6-4), who had only surrendered four runs in four prior starts against the Royals. He allowed seven baserunners and seven runs (six of them earned). To complete the final 7.2 innings, the Twins used a quintet of relievers.
Butler became the second Royal to collect two hits in the same inning this year. It was the fourth time in 2014 that Kansas City scored at least seven runs in the same frame.
The inning took 29 minutes to complete, but it didn’t seem to shake Guthrie (9-10), who settled into his start. He worked until there was one out in the Twins’ fourth inning, when the sky opened up. This prompted a 54 minute rain delay, but Guthrie stayed loose in the clubhouse. When the tarp was removed, he was the first one out of the dugout, and the rain pretty much stayed away from Target Field for the remainder of the game.
Guthrie’s final line was solid: seven innings, four hits, five runs, and seven strikeouts. He did surrender two home runs, one to Joe Mauer in the third and the other to Kenny Vargas in the fifth. He threw an even 100 pitches.
Kansas City wasn’t about to be out-homered, though. The Royals pounded a trio of homers, none of which were cheap by any means.
First was Alex Gordon, who clobbered a 3-2 fastball into deep right field for a two-run home run. Two innings later, Salvador Perez muscled a screaming line drive into the left-field bleachers, scoring him his team-leading 15th homer of the season. Later in the frame, Willingham plated the team’s 11th run on an RBI double.
The best was saved for last, though. After Minnesota cut the score to 11-6, up came Willingham, the former Twin. Brian Duensing hung an off-speed pitch, and the Royals’ DH didn’t miss any of it. He crushed the pitch into the third deck of deep left field, a blast that was officially measured at 433 feet. The 13th home run of the season for Willingham made the score 12-6, which proved to be the final.
Jason Frasor and Kelvin Herrera worked the final two innings of the game. Wade Davis and Greg Holland received consecutive games off just the second time this month.
The Royals have now won 20 of their last 25 games, and are an MLB-best 12-3 in August.
Kansas City also seized the opportunity to re-acquire a 1.5 game-lead in the AL Central standings. The Tigers were blown out by Seattle, virtually erasing the game they gained on the Royals last night. Detroit is idle tomorrow and will begin a series in Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
The series concludes on Monday when Jason Vargas (9-5, 3.27) gets the ball for the Royals. Minnesota will counter with rookie Trevor May, who will make his third career start. He failed to complete the third inning in each of his first two starts. Vargas, meanwhile, has been dynamite against Minnesota. Over three starts against the Twins this season, he has surrendered just two runs in 21 innings. If that trend continues, the Royals will win their eighth consecutive series.