Royals fall behind early in 7-2 loss Saturday

Lynn Worthy
The Kansas City Star (TNS)
Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Ian Kennedy, second from left, hands the ball to manager Mike Matheny after being removed in the seventh inning Saturday during a 7-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins at Kauffman Stadium.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Royals turned to their other rookie pitcher, Kris Bubic, on Sunday in hopes of securing a series victory against the Minnesota Twins.

The Twins tagged Royals rookie right-hander Brady Singer for three first-inning runs and four runs total on their way to dealing the Royals a 7-2 loss at Kauffman Stadium on Saturday night. They then added insurance runs at the expense of reliever Ian Kennedy.

Veteran left fielder Alex Gordon, who came into the day batting .181, went 2 for 3 with a home run in the loss, while Whit Merrifield and second baseman Nicky Lopez had two hits apiece for the Royals (11-16). Jorge Soler reached base twice on catcher's interference calls.

"I just kind of got off to a bad start with results, timing, just not feeling comfortable in the box," Gordon said. "Obviously, sometimes this game is hard. You're not always successful at it. But the only thing I've always known is to put my head down and just work and try to get out of it. That's what I've been trying to do with the hitting coaches."

The Royals left 11 men on base and went 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position. They had two on with no outs in the third, but did not score. They left two runners in scoring position in the fifth, and stranded the bases loaded in the sixth.

"When you keep that simple mentality, that's usually when a ball hits the gap and we start scoring multiple runs," Royals manager Mike Matheny said. "And it's going to happen because we're seeing some hard-hit balls at times, but we're also getting some swings and misses. We've got to find a way to put the pressure on the defense."

Singer, making his sixth career start and third consecutive start against the Twins (18-10), gave up four runs on six hits. Home runs by Eddie Rosario and Miguel Sano accounted for all of the Twins scoring against Singer.

In three starts against the Twins, Singer has given up three home runs in 14 2/3 innings. The Twins Max Kepler took him deep in his previous start.

"I'd definitely say they put some good at-bats together," Singer said. "I felt good. I felt like I had my stuff. The off-speed pitches weren't as good as I'd want them to be, but I felt like I had good life on the fastball and I felt like I pounded the zone quite a bit."

The Twins jumped out to a 3-0 lead before Singer recorded his first out of the game. Kepler belted a leadoff double. That was followed by Jorge Polanco's single that put two men on for Rosario. Rosario crushed a first-pitch slider to right-center field for a three-run homer.

Singer retired three of the next four batters he faced to get out of the inning. He kept the Twins out of the scoring column in the second and third innings, but he served up a 3-2 fastball to Sano to start the fourth inning.

The pitch was near the bottom of the zone, but over the inner half of the plate and Sano turned on it and blasted it an estimated 458 feet to left field. It came off Sano's bat at a blistering 115.8 mph, according to MLB Statcast data.

The Royals cut the deficit in half in the fifth inning when Gordon homered to straight-away center field on a blast that carried an estimated 430 feet. Cam Gallagher and Merrifield followed with singles, and Lopez hit an RBI double.

Lopez's hit was the first allowed by Twins starting pitcher Randy Dobnak with runners in scoring position this season. Opponent's had gone 0 for 16 with runners in scoring position against Dobnak.

Hunter Dozier lined right back up the middle at Dobnak with two outs and runners on second and third to end the inning with the score 4-2.

The Twins tacked on three more runs in the seventh inning against Kennedy. Kennedy allowed three runs on one hit and three walks, including one intentional walk, in 2/3 of an inning.

"We've got to find out how to get this guy right because he's a big piece of what we're trying to do," Matheny said of Kennedy.