KC 8, MIN 6: Struggles With Men on Base, Errors Prove Costly
Image courtesy of © Brad Rempel-USA TODAY SportsBox Score
Perez: 6.2 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 68.6% strikes (72 of 105 pitches)
Bullpen: 2.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K
Home Runs: Sano (7), Cruz (13)
Multi-hit games: Kepler (4-for-6, 2 2B), Schoop (3-for-5), Cruz (2-for-5, 2B, HR, BB), Rosario (2-for-5), Sano (2-for-4, HR, BB)
WPA of +0.1: Kepler .181
WPA of -0.1: Adrianza -.118, Castro -.144, Perez -.133, Morin -.181, Garver -.181
(chart via FanGraphs)
Playing in front of a sold out crowd on a sun-kissed afternoon at Target Field, the Minnesota Twins were seeking a series sweep of the Kansas City Royals and a Father’s Day victory.
Martin Perez Trying to Find it Again
Through his first seven starts of the season, Martin Perez -- a recent father himself -- was nothing short of dominant. He was enjoying one of the best career resurgences we have seen in a long time. His last four starts, however, have been a different story.
Five of his first seven starts were quality starts and he was 5-1 with a 2.01 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and 41 Ks over 44 2/3 IP. Zero of his previous four starts have been quality starts and over that stretch he has gone 1-1 with a 7.27 ERA, 2.02 WHIP and 11 BB over 17 1/3 IP.
Besides a rough second inning in which he surrendered three runs on four hits, Martin Perez appeared to have regained his early season success. Perez retired the Royals in order in five of his 6 2/3 innings pitched. Also, following the second inning mishap, Perez retired 14 consecutive batters before giving up a single in the seventh inning.
A wacky seventh inning ruined what should have been the sixth quality start of the year for Perez. With one out and a runner on first, Eddie Rosario had a hard line drive clank off his glove putting runners on the corners. A bunt by Billy Hamilton scored the Royals fourth run of the game. Then an error by Miguel Sano allowed the Royals to score their fifth run.
Missed Opportunities Hurt Minnesota
Twins Territory has become so accustomed to seeing this team hit home runs and put crooked numbers on the scoreboard that it’s easy to overlook missed opportunities on offense but those missed opportunities really hurt them today.
In the bottom of the first, Minnesota had the bases loaded with two outs and were unable to score after Marwin Gonzalez grounded out to first base. Max Kepler led off the third inning with a double but three quick outs from Jorge Polanco, Nelson Cruz and Eddie Rosario left Kepler stranded at second.
After scoring two runs in the fifth inning courtesy of a Miguel Sano solo home run and an RBI single from Kepler, Minnesota once again wasted a bases-loaded opportunity. Polanco was intentionally walked which loaded the bases for Cruz and he struck out to end the inning.
Cruz added the third run of the game for Minnesota in the seventh inning when he launched a solo home run into the upper deck in right-center. Following the Cruz bomba, the bases were once again loaded, this time with only one out.
Jonathan Schoop would strike out and Mitch Garver was then called upon to pinch-hit for Jason Castro against the Royals left-handed reliever, Jake Diekman. After quickly falling behind 0-2, Garver eventually hit a warning-track fly ball that was caught in right field and spoiled Minnesota’s third bases-loaded opportunity of the game.
The old adage is the third is a charm but for Minnesota, on Father’s Day, the fourth time was the charm. In the eighth inning, they once again had the bases loaded, for the fourth time in the game.
Only this time they were able to make the Royals pay. Cruz, who had homered in his previous plate appearance, wasted no time ripping a double to left field and driving in two runs on the second pitch of his at-bat.
Rosario popped up for the first out of the inning but Minnesota still had two runners in scoring position and only one out for Sano but he quickly struck out, leaving it up to Gonzalez with two outs. Once again, Minnesota was unable to fully capitalize on their scoring opportunity when Marwin lifted a shallow fly ball to left field for the third out.
Remarkably, even after all those missed opportunities, Minnesota still had a chance to win the game in the ninth inning with Cruz stepping up to the plate and representing the winning run. Unfortunately, the theme of missed opportunities once again reared its ugly head when Cruz struck out on a checked swing to end the game.
The Twins offense was 1-for-8 (.125) with the bases loaded and 4-for-18 (.222) with runners in scoring position. They also stranded 15 runners.
Kansas City Capitalizes On Their Opportunities
For how bad Minnesota was at hitting with runners in scoring position, Kansas City was equally as good. They Royals were 5-for-15 (.333) with runners in scoring position and only seven runners left on base.
The bottom third of the Kansas City lineup also proved to be troublesome for Minnesota pitchers. Their number 7, 8 and 9 hitters were a combined 5-for-11 (.454) with four runs batted in and four runs scored.
Postgame With Baldelli
Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days: