The final meeting between the Royals and the Twins in the 2016 season did not go quite like the 18 games that preceded it. By that, I mean the Twins played pretty well, and the Royals did not, as the visitors picked up the 7-6 win.
Kansas City got off to a fast start with a pair of runs in the second inning, and had to answer a four-run top of the seventh with another pair of runs in the bottom half of the inning. And once the Twins’ bullpen got involved, it seemed like a Royals victory was inevitable. This time, though, it was the Royals’ bullpen who blinked. Kelvin Herrera surrendered three runs in the ninth inning, and one final rally fell short, with Terrance Gore being picked off first base, representing the tying run.
Despite the loss, immediately following the game, Dayton Moore filed a formal request with the league office to have the Royals’ 2017 schedule consist of 162 games against the Twins. Rob Manfred could not be reached for comment. Mostly because I don’t know how to reach him. Tonight’s game capped off a 15-4 campaign against the team with the worst record in baseball.
NOT QUITE GNAR
It seemed like Danny Duffy was well on his way to putting a bow on his excellent season, keeping the Twins off the board in his first six innings. In the seventh, however, that bow came untied. He allowed a pair of singles to start the inning, and after a sacrifice bunt moved both men into scoring position, Byron Buxton roped a liner into the gap in left-center for a triple, and then scored on another single.
Duffy’s final game log of the season: 6.1 innings, 8 hits, 4 runs, 2 walks, and 3 strikeouts. He’ll end the season with a 3.51 ERA and 188 strikeouts over 179.2 innings. Everyone here at BP Kansas City tips their cap to the Duffman.
A BRAZILIAN HITS
It wasn’t long ago that Paulo Orlando appeared to be in a tailspin. Between August 15 and September 17, he hit .158/.188/.179. That’s an on-base plus slugging plus average (OPSPA) of .525. Even using a stat I literally just made up, he was having a terrible month. But since September 18, he’s hit .500/.512/.676, which is a much better OPSPA of 1.688. Don’t question my math.
Orlando added another four hits tonight, including two doubles, and was standing at the plate as the go-ahead run in the bottom of the ninth when Gore got caught leaning.
Typically when the Royals are involved in a game that’s decided in the final few innings, they find themselves on top. They’ve had the best bullpen in baseball for several years, and that edge has produced more than a handful of dramatic victories. Lately, it’s seemed like all those high-stress innings have taken their toll on the relievers, particularly on Herrera. He’s allowed 10 earned runs this month, spanning 11 innings. For perspective, he didn’t allow his 10th earned run of this season until his 51st appearance, in early August. A longer offseason will be welcome for that right arm.
The final series of the season begins at Kauffman Stadium, with the division-winning Indians coming to town.