Kansas City Delivers the Funk Once Again to the Minnesota Twins
The Minnesota Twins began the week at 9-9 for August, coming off their first winning month since May of 2015. Sweeping a two-game set on the road in Atlanta set up Minnesota for decent chance at a plus .500 August.
Only Kansas City stood in their way.A team that the Twins used to own – especially at Kauffman Stadium.
But three years ago, the Royals started turning the tide, and not just against the Twins. Two straight trips to the Fall Classic has emboldened these young players to step on the throats of teams lower than them in the standings.
Going into last weekend, the Minnesota Twins had managed but two wins in nine contests so far this season against the defending champions.
Four days later, after being outscored 25-6, the Twins could barely tip their caps to the Royals dugout after being swept away.
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Entering the dog days of the 2016 season, the Twins dropped a losing 2-4 week to the schedule.
Ten games ago, the Twins were within nine games of fourth place Kansas City, looking to move up, not only in the A.L. standings, but possibly the division as well.
But now, with the Royals winning eight in a row, and 13-of-15 – it’s K.C. who has changed their fortunes for the better – now just four games out of the second Wild Card spot.
Meanwhile, the Minnesota Twins have sunk to last in the A.L. standings, and just four games better than the Braves to save themselves from the cellar.
UP: Ervin Santana continues to prove he’s the ace of the Twins’ staff, and making fans everywhere across Minnesota happy that the front office didn’t trade our only reliable starter.
Santana followed up Tuesday’s seven shutout innings with another seven brilliant innings against the Royals.
He won the first game 4-2, despite a shaky bullpen, but could not overcome clutch hitting and Gold Glove-caliber defense, as Danny Duffy won his 10th straight game.
DOWN: Clutch hitting. The Minnesota Twins mustered eight hits against Duffy in just 6.2 innings – the most Duffy has allowed in a game all season. They were just 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position, and scored but one run (one hit was an infield single), leaving eight runners on base.
In losing 10-0 and 8-1, the Minnesota Twins could only cobble together nine hits total, and were 0-2 in each game with runners in scoring position.
Against Duffy, the Twins had a great chance to score in the second inning – loading the bases with no outs.
Another key strikeout by Eddie Rosario, followed by two great plays in the field, get the Twins off the scoreboard.
DOWN: Clutch defense. After watching the Royals bail out their pitcher, the Minnesota Twins were unable to do the same for their own ace in the sixth inning.
With two outs, Lorenzo Cain collected the fourth hit for K.C. in the game.
Eric Hosmer was able to easily hit the ball over Rosario’s head for an RBI double, scoring what proved to be the decisive run.
It’s the second time in a week that Rosario has been unable to reach a ball that fans know Byron Buxton would have been able to get to.
And defense is what the Royals continually harp on during their resurgence.
Buxton has proven he has the tools to succeed in the field, and on the bases in the majors and can hit at Triple-A.
With a lost season, the Minnesota Twins need to keep giving at-bats to their former #1 pick to help him with his learning curve.
At the very least, he can help the young starting pitchers for Minnesota. You only need to watch the Royals, as a solid defense helps prop up their pitchers, and can help turn an entire game around with a quick flash of leather.
WAY DOWN: Hector Santiago. This is what we got in return for Ricky Nolasco? Any chance of Rob Antony hopefully pulling a fast one on the Angels to help with his possible GM candidacy has blown up on the Twins’ front office.
In four starts, he’s given up more runs every start than in his previous. His “best” start was his first as a Twin – allowing four runs in five innings. Since then, he’s allowed five, seven, and finally eight runs in Saturday’s 10-0 whitewash.
Santiago gave up 11 hits, three of them homers, to the light-hitting Royals. K.C. trailed the L.A. Angels by more than ten home runs coming into the game for last place in the American League, and thirty less than the Minnesota Twins.
ON FIRE: One Twin is sad to see the Royals go, and that’s Brian Dozier. He homered for the seventh straight game against Kansas City when he went deep off of Edinson Volquez in the third inning Friday night.
An deep it was. According to Statcast, it was Dozier’s longest-ever home run, measured at 454 feet. With seven in a row against the Royals, Dozier became only the fourth player with a streak that long.
Coincidentally, former Twin great Harmon Killebrew is tied atop that list with nine straight against the Kansas City A’s in 1961.
Last to get at least seven?
Newly-elected Hall of Famer, Ken Griffey Jr., who hit seven straight against Texas 22 years ago.
Dozier had to wait to see if his home run would hold up after the heavens opened up and a three hour rain delay nearly took away the historical home run. Earlier in August, Dozier had a lead-off blast against the Astros wiped away by rain at Target Field.
He got his 14th career lead-off shot back by homering to start off Thursday’s game against Dillon Gee, the third game he’s homered off Gee this season.
The Minnesota Twins face the Royals for two more series this season. Dozier is hoping that Gee’s name comes around at least one more time in the rotation.
NOTES: Dozier’s home run was the fourth straight game that the Royals only allowed one run, with each run scoring on a solo home run. It’s the first time in major league history for that to happen.
STRANGE, BUT TRUE, STAT OF THE WEEK: In Wednesday’s win over Atlanta, Kyle Gibson went the distance to pick up his fifth win of the season, and his first-ever big league complete game. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last Twin to record a complete game win on the road was?
None other than the unforgettable P.J. Walters, who went nine complete in a win over the White Sox in May of 2012. It was his last win of the year, despite three more starts where Walters allowed only two runs or less.