Typically, surrendering five runs and 11 hits are not a winning recipe for a starting pitcher. Usually, those same starters also don’t get to ply their wares deep into the seventh inning as well.
But those starters are not usually facing the Kansas City Royals who, recent successes aside, have made a habit of gifting opponents several hits and runs of their own in 2018.
Not to tl; dr this thing, but Jakob Junis has had better days. And on his birthday, no less.
Junis got hit early and often, and even though his teammates fought back and even tied the game at one point, it was not quite enough at the end of the day in a 9-5 loss that prevented the Twins from being swept. It was not a day any of the pitcher’s involved will look back on fondly—the teams, THESE teams, combined for 31 hits—but the batters appreciated the extra BP, I’m sure.
The Royals jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first; to update America’s best-loved random stat, Kansas City has outscored opponents 88-79 in the first inning this year and been outscored 697-494 in subsequent innings. Adalberto Mondesi and Alex Gordon slapped back-to-back singles with one out in the frame, although BERTO was thrown out at third on a steal attempt. Ryan O’Hearn doubled home Gordon and found himself crossing the plate when Rosell Herrera doubled three pitches later.
The Twins tied it with single runs in the second (Jorge Polanco RBI single) and third (Max Kepler home run) before breaking the game wide open in the fourth. That’s when Tyler Austin and Johnny Field (a real name, apparently) led off with back-to-back homers to chase Junis, who finished with three innings, eight hits and four earned on his line score. Brian Flynn, who replaced Junis, was greeted by a Chris Gimenez single, followed by a Polanco flyout, Eddie Rosario single and Robbie Grossman single to bring another run across.
The Royals scrapped a run back in the home half of the fourth, with O’Hearn’s leadoff double resulting in a run via Brian Goodwin single. Following Meibrys Viloria’s leadoff single in the fifth, BERTO’s ninth blast of the season tied the game and gave the Royals all the momentum.
And yet Gibson remained in the game. Maybe it was a rest day for the bullpen; Minnesota used five pitchers yesterday, four Friday and seven on Thursday. On the other hand, it’s September and roster expansion should help alleviate that. But on the other, other hand, it’s a Twins-Royals game in September 2018, why not let Kyle Gibson put work in?
Well, it worked out. The game was tied for all of three batters. Jerry Vasto came on for Flynn in the sixth and immediately served up a solo homer to Polanco, the first run Vasto has allowed as a Royal. The second didn’t take nearly as long to register—he served up singles to Eddie Rosario and Logan Forsythe before giving way to Kevin McCarthy, whose pickoff attempt at first was botched by O’Hearn and allowed Rosario to score.
Berto’s seventh-inning single provided Kansas City’s only baserunner after the fifth inning until Viloria’s double with two outs in the ninth, although he did score on Whit Merrifield’s single as the Royals attempt one last, late rally. Minnesota tacked on two in the top of the ninth on a Ehire Adrianza double (scoring Kepler after a walk) and Field single (scoring Adrianza, who moved to third on a wild pitch) to maintain distance from the Royals.
Your Tweet of Despair
— Dan Holke (@danholke) September 16, 2018
The Bright Spot: O’Hearn and BERTO both had three hits. McCarthy continues to be quietly effective. Brandon Maurer got his ERA below 8.00!
The Nadir: Junis couldn’t find it. Wily Peralta got slapped around. Alcides Escobar took an 0-for.
The Next Step: Because reasons, the Royals will travel to Pittsburgh for a late-season interleague set against the Pirates. I am very old-fashioned and believe that April and September should feature no interleague contests and I invite you to come fight me on David Lesky’s lawn if you disagree. Anyway, Brad Keller goes for the Royals and Joe Musgrove takes the ball for Pittsburgh. Only one player for either team has faced the opposing hurler, and that’s Brett Phillips, who got four at-bats against Musgrove when Maverick was in Milwaukee. Anyway, 6:05 p.m. (CT) for those inclined.