After right-hander Brady Singer turned in another dazzling performance on the mound and his teammates put together a five-run inning to stake him to a six-run lead, the Kansas City Royals appeared set to cruise to victory as they closed out their homestand.
Instead, it turned out to be one of the rockier cruises you’ll ever see as the Royals’ bullpen yielded seven runs in the final two innings of a 7-6 loss to the Minnesota Twins in front of an announced 15,482 in the finale of their three-game series at Kauffman Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
“Indescribable,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said of the feeling immediately after the game. “I can’t think of a worse loss than that one right there.”
The Royals (14-26) were swept and their losing slide extended to four games as they embark on another three-city road trip.
“The guys at the back (end of the bullpen) have been so good all season at picking each other up,” Matheny said. “If one of them has a bad day, somebody else is able to pick them up. It was unfortunate today because they’ve been good for us. We’ve worked them hard. But that one stings.”
Singer tossed seven scoreless innings, and he held the Twins to four hits.
Royals relievers Taylor Clarke and Scott Barlow combined to give up five runs in the eighth inning. The bases were loaded when Barlow exited and handed the ball to Josh Staumont, with the Twins potentially on the cusp of breaking it open.
Clarke gave up four consecutive hits to start the eighth inning and did not record an out.
Barlow, who entered with the third-lowest ERA of any Royals pitcher ever against the Twins (1.55 in 27 appearances), took over and got a sacrifice fly for the first out of the inning. Then he struck out the next batter.
But Barlow then left a fastball over the heart of the plate to Kyle Garlick, and Garlick pounded it into the left-field bullpen for a two-run home run. The blast made it a one-run game.
Barlow then gave up a single and a walk to load the bases, which prompted Matheny to call upon Staumont with the Twins (25-16) still gaining momentum. Staumont froze leadoff man Luis Arraez, who came in batting .324 with a .430 on-base percentage, with a curveball for a called third strike.
“You’re always trying — especially coming in with guys on base — you’re picking up the guy before you before you even think about anything that you’re doing,” Staumont said. “Big situation with bases loaded, you’ve got to establish a first pitch strike. We did that, got those curveballs on the outside with Arraez, a guy who doesn’t punch out often and puts a lot of balls in play. You’ve just got to be careful. Bases loaded two outs, it’s a hard thing. Those guys are moving.
“It’s one thing to get that job done, but the job wasn’t done. I stepped out there the next inning and didn’t finish it, so it’s frustrating.”
Indeed, the Twins got to Staumont in the ninth, taking their first lead of the day on a leadoff walk, double by Max Kepler, game-tying sacrifice fly by Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela’s two-out RBI single.
The Royals went down in order in their half of the ninth inning and that was that.
“We’re giving it everything we’ve got,” Staumont said. “Frustration is at the top (of the list of emotions). A game like this where Brady throws (like he did), everyone wants to do their job the best that they can. Everyone gives 100%. So to fall short in a game like this is super-frustrating.
“They were just mental mistakes, untimely walks compared to timely hitting. … We needed this win today, and as a bullpen we just didn’t do it for the rest of the team.”
Carlos Santana’s three-run double was the driving force behind a five-run sixth inning for the Royals. Andrew Benintendi went 3 for 4 with a walk, an RBI and a run scored. Hunter Dozier doubled and drove in a run. Kyle Isbel had a hit, an RBI and a stolen base.
Santana admitted to being somewhat stunned by how things unfolded, but he reiterated that nobody was happy about losing in that fashion.
He’s also a proponent of turning the page and not letting the loss linger.
“Tomorrow is a new day, new week, new series, so let’s see what happens,” Santana said. “We keep playing hard, keep working. It’s a long season. It was a tough game today, but we have to keep our heads up and tomorrow is a new day.”