Both teams came out swinging at the first pitch. Royals pitcher Brad Keller recorded two outs and had a runner on first just four pitches into the game. In the bottom of the first the Whit Merrifield doubled on the first pitch and Adalberto Mondesi singled him home on the second pitch of the game from Berrios. Pitch three saw Mondesi steal second. This game was exciting from the very beginning.
With two out in the top of the fourth and Eddie Rosario on first base, CJ Cron hit a single to left-center. Rosario never stopped running. Alex Gordon got to the ball quickly and got rid of it but it did not appear to be a very strong throw to Adalberto Mondesi. Mondesi took too long to figure out where he needed to throw, seemingly not expecting Rosario to try to score on the play. Rosario scored all the way from first because of the lack of urgency and communication from the Royals’ defense. It was the kind of run the Royals need to score and certainly one they cannot afford to give up.
In the top of the sixth, CJ Cron led off with a routine fly ball to right-center. It was Whit Merrifield’s ball to get. Whit and Billy Hamilton both thought the other one was going to get it. Cron received a hit on the play but it was a mistake by Whit.
With a 4-3 lead heading to the ninth, Ned Yost chose to bring in Ian Kennedy for the save instead of Kyle Zimmer. We will have to see if the concern is that Zimmer just pitched on Sunday and they are being extra cautious with him or if Ned really thinks Ian Kennedy is a better option than Kyle Zimmer. Kennedy gave up a run to eventually send the game to extra innings.
Minnesota scored the eventual winning run in the top of the tenth inning off of Brad Boxberger who is struggling right now. The Royals were not happy with a foul ball called that would have been the last out and prevented the run from scoring. The home plate umpire, Mark Ripperger, called the ball foul but third base umpire James Hoye called it fair. The foul call stood and that looked like the right call. Hoye appeared to have been blocked by Hunter Dozier who was fielding the ball. Ned Yost said in the post game press conference that the umpires told him the same thing.
Down to the last out, Twins pitcher Blake Parker left two breaking balls up in the strike zone but Jorge Soler missed the first one and popped up the second one to end the game.
This is the type of loss that makes you think the Royals might be just as bad as they were last year. Losing to Minnesota 5-4 is ok but not the way the Royals played tonight. Keller’s fight without his best stuff and Mondesi’s offense were the bright spots. However, there were too many bad things that happened in this game for the Royals to win.
Whit Merrifield [1-for-5, R, 2B]
Whit continued his hitting streak on the first pitch of the game with a double down the third base line. His streak is now at 24 games.
Adalberto Mondesi [3-for5, R, 2 RBI, 2B, HR, SB]
Mondesi continued his hot hitting, singling home Whit on the first pitch he saw in the bottom of the first. His swing looks real nice and he appears to have a good idea of what he’s looking for at the plate.
Mondesi had a single, double and then an eighth inning inside-the-park home run to give the Royals a 4-3 lead heading into the ninth inning. Mondesi was jogging to first base thinking he hit it over the wall and still scored. In July that ball might have been over the fence. Go to the ballpark to watch Mondesi. He is a talent.
Hunter Dozier [1-for-3, RBI]
Dozier played on the first base side of second base several times in the shift. In the second inning Marwin Gonzalez hit a relatively slow roller just to the left of second base. Dozier approached the ball and threw on the run across his body to first to get the out. I didn’t realize he had that kind of athleticism. We don’t see that much at third base. It was a really nice play.
Dozier also had a diving stop in the ninth to keep the ball in the infield and keep a runner from scoring from second. Dozier’ defense has been really good tonight.
Ryan O’Hearn [1-for-3, R, RBI]
O’Hearn hit a solo home run with two outs in the sixth to tie the game 3-3. The home run took Brad Keller off the hook for the loss. O’Hearn is an interesting player to follow this year to see if he can develop as a quality major league player who will stick with the club. He’s fun to watch at the plate so I’m hoping he succeeds.
Brad Keller [GS: 51, 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 5K, 1.50 WHIP, 101 P, 52 S]
The Twins came out swinging at Keller’s first pitch of the game. In the fourth inning the Twins changed things up and started taking a lot of pitches, especially breaking pitches. The Twins made Keller throw a lot of pitches in the fourth and fifth innings.
Keller struggled with control. He left a lot of pitches outside for balls when he was trying to hit the outside part of the plate. It was especially bad against left-handed batters when he was missing on his arm side. We have not seen Keller struggle this much in some time.
As much as Keller struggled with his control Tuesday night, he kept the Royals in the game. That’s what good pitchers do. He left after six innings allowing just three runs, one of which might have been prevented with a little urgency from his defense, with the Royals trailing just 3-2.
Tim Hill [0 IP, 2 H, INF WHIP, 4 P, 3 S]
Hill had a short outing facing just two batters in the top of the seventh. Max Kepler hit the ball off the plate and by the time the ball came down he was practically at first. Jorge Polanco then bunted to the third side of the mound. Hill tried to field the bunt when it should have been Dozier making the play. Hill had no play. Hill wasn’t bad but allowed two tough hits.
Wily Peralta [1 IP, 1 BB, 2 K, 1.00 WHIP, 20 P, 11 S]
Peralta will make you nervous at times but tonight got the job one in the seventh. He walked Nelson Cruz before striking out two batters sandwiched around a hard-hit line-out to Hunter Dozier at third base. Peralta is not a bullpen answer. He’s filling a spot this season but he’s not going to be in a championship team’s bullpen.
Jake Diekman [1 IP, 1 K, 0.00 WHIP, 12 P, 9 S]
Diekman started off the inning by hitting Jonathan Schoop but then retired the next three batters to keep the game tied 3-3 heading to the bottom of the eighth. He looked much better than his appearance on Opening Day. His control was a lot better tonight. Diekman could be a nice bullpen option for Ned Yost.
Ian Kennedy [BS 1, 1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 K, 3.00 WHIP, 21 P, 15 S]
Ned Yost brought in Kennedy for the save. Why not Zimmer? Because… Ned. Kennedy allowed a lead-off double who came around to score the tying run.
Brad Boxberger [L 0-1, 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 3.00 WHIP, 21 P, 12 S]
Boxberger struggled in the tenth. He allowed the Twins’ winning run on two hits and a walk in the inning. He has not been very good early in the season.