Kansas City Royals

Royals blow two three-run leads in late collapse against first-place Twins

Ned Yost after Royals blow three-run leads: ‘We just couldn’t put them away’

The Kansas City Royals blew a pair of three-run leads in an 8-7 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Friday, June 21, 2019.
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The Kansas City Royals blew a pair of three-run leads in an 8-7 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Friday, June 21, 2019.

The offense has been quiet over the first half of a season, befitting of a last-place team. But in baseball, there are always exceptions to the rule, always bucks to every trend. And for two straight nights inside Kauffman Stadium, the Royals have produced plenty of fireworks in the opening inning.

But the Twins produced even more late.

Minnesota erased a pair of three-run deficits on Friday, tagging the Royals’ bullpen for an 8-7 victory in the second game of their four-day stay.

The Royals (26-50) blew a pair of three-run leads — starter Jakob Junis couldn’t make a 3-0 advantage stick after the first inning, and the bullpen failed after Cheslor Cuthbert’s three-run homer in the fifth supplied a 6-3 edge.

The Twins scored the next five runs, four of them on two-strike swings.

“We just couldn’t put them away,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “We’d make pitches and couldn’t put them away.”

The Twins (49-26) chipped away with two runs off reliever Scott Barlow in the seventh before getting to lefty Jake Diekman (0-5) for three more in the eighth, ignited by Miguel Sano’s leadoff home run to tie the game at 6-6.

Barlow faced three hitters and got zero outs, though none were hit particularly hard. Diekman faced four and got zero outs. Five scored.

“Gave up the leadoff homer, and then I just couldn’t throw a slider worth anything,” Diekman said.

A day after the most complete pitching-staff performance of the Royals season, the first-place Twins ran roughshod over the Royals’ arms, collecting 13 hits, including seven of their eight runs over the final five innings.

Royals designated hitter Jorge Soler attempted to reverse the momentum, leading off the bottom of the eighth with a solo shot to left to trim the deficit to 8-7. A Minnesota error gifted the Royals a base runner with one out in the ninth, but they couldn’t complete a comeback.

The Twins completed theirs.

After the Royals scored three times in the first inning for the second straight day, the Twins drew even in the top of the fifth. Then Cuthbert delivered another go-ahead blast in the bottom half. The ball left the playing field in a hurry, traveling 108.6 mph off the bat. The Royals placed two runners on base with nobody out before Hunter Dozier and Soler struck out. Cuthbert picked them up. He factored into both crooked innings and tied career highs with three hits and four RBIs.

“I was just looking for a good pitch,” Cuthbert said. “It was a cutter, and I just tried to put a good swing on it.”

The leads came and went. The Twins tied the game in the fifth, a pair of runs courtesy of Royals miscues. Junis walked a hitter to set up the first one, and an error evened the score. Royals catcher Martin Maldonado tried to catch Eddie Rosario stealing, but the throw was late and sailed wide. As it nipped Nicky Lopez’s glove, Nelson Cruz broke for home and scored without a throw.

That was after the Royals scored three in the first, and that was despite Whit Merrifield being thrown out stealing, breaking a string of 24 consecutive successful steals. Martin Perez walked Lopez and Soler, who both scored.

Although Junis didn’t have his best stuff early, he concluded his eventual no-decision with eight strikeouts and just two earned runs over his six innings. The Twins marked him early. The initial five balls put in play all carried an expected batting average of .670 or better based on their exit velocity and trajectory, according to Statcast. Junis survived the first four with a scoreless first inning, those balls hit right at fielders. The fifth left the ballpark, a 424-foot shot to center field off C.J. Cron’s bat.

“He didn’t have a rough start,” Yost said of Junis. “They’re outs. I want outs. I need outs. I don’t care how they are.

“I’d rather have a hard-hit out than one of them little dumpers that they put out there in the seventh inning.”

Twins 8, Royals 7

Minnesota

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Kepler cf

5

1

2

1

0

0

.275

Polanco ss

5

2

2

0

0

2

.326

Cruz dh

4

1

1

2

1

1

.277

Rosario lf

5

0

3

2

0

0

.271

Cron 1b

5

1

1

1

0

1

.279

Castro c

4

0

1

0

1

0

.239

Sano 3b

5

1

1

1

0

4

.214

Cave rf

2

0

0

0

0

2

.161

Garver ph

0

0

0

0

1

0

.294

Astudillo pr-rf

1

1

0

0

0

0

.267

Schoop 2b

4

1

2

0

0

0

.259



Kansas City

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Merrifield rf

4

1

1

0

1

0

.300

Lopez 2b

3

2

0

0

1

1

.235

Dozier 3b

4

0

0

0

0

1

.307

Soler dh

3

2

1

1

1

1

.248

Cuthbert 1b

4

2

3

4

0

0

.307

Arteaga ss

3

0

0

0

0

0

.000

Maldonado c

4

0

1

1

0

1

.216

Gore lf

4

0

1

0

0

0

.271

Hamilton cf

4

0

0

0

0

0

.221



Minnesota

010

020

230

8

13

2

Kansas City

300

030

010

7

7

1

E—Polanco (9), Astudillo (3), Maldonado (2). LOB—Minnesota 9, Kansas City 4. 2B—Polanco (22), Cuthbert (4). HR—Cron (16), off Junis; Sano (8), off Diekman; Cuthbert (4), off Perez; Soler (21), off Harper. RBIs—Kepler (51), Cruz 2 (36), Rosario 2 (55), Cron (48), Sano (14), Soler (53), Cuthbert 4 (15), Maldonado (14). SB—Rosario (3), Gore (11). CS—Merrifield (6). S—Arteaga. DP—Minnesota 1.

Minnesota

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

ERA

Perez

5

5

6

4

3

2

4.28

Duffey

1

0

0

0

0

0

1.99

Harper, W, 3-0

1

2

1

1

0

1

2.35

Rogers, S, 9-11

2

0

0

0

0

1

1.91

Kansas City

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

ERA

Junis

6

6

3

2

2

8

5.18

Barlow

0

3

2

2

0

0

5.82

Peralta, H, 5

1

0

0

0

0

1

4.22

Diekman, L, 0-5, BS, 2-2

0

3

3

3

1

0

5.23

Lopez

2

1

0

0

0

1

6.44

Barlow pitched to 3 batters in the 7th. Diekman pitched to 4 batters in the 8th. Harper pitched to 2 batters in the 8th. Inherited runners-scored—Rogers 1-0, Peralta 1-0, Lopez 2-0. HBP—Junis (Cave), Perez (Lopez). WP—Junis, Barlow. T—3:27. A—27,418 (37,903).

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