With a 3-1 lead, the KC Royals bullpen blew the lead and then lost in the tenth to the Minnesota Twins, 4-3. The Royals still won the series, but were this close to the series sweep.
Francisley Bueno threw just five pitches to pick up the loss. He started the inning by allowing a double to Alexi Casilla. On that double, Lorenzo Cain tried to make the diving catch, yet instead got hurt. Two pitches later, Denard Span doubled him in for the walk off victory.
So how did the game get to the tenth?
The Royals scored two runs in the top of the first inning on Salvador Perez‘ two out, two-run single. The Twins got one run back on Josh Willingham‘s 34th homerun in the bottom of the inning. Justin Morneau followed with a single and that was the last hit that Royals starter Luis Mendoza allowed (he pitched six innings).
The Royals tacked on another run in the 5th inning. David Lough tripled and with two outs, Billy Butler doubled him in.
Kelvin Herrera entered in the 8th inning and struggled with his command (just nine of his 18 pitches were thrown for strikes). With two outs and the bases loaded, manager Ned Yost went to closer Greg Holland (who seems to be his favorite reliever at the moment). Holland proceeded to walk Willingham to force in a run. That made the score 3-2.
Holland went back out for the 9th inning and gave up a leadoff homerun to Trevor Plouffe on his second pitch (a fastball high and right down the middle). Thankfully, he rebounded to retire the next three hitters to send it to extra innings.
That is when things got interesting.
Alex Gordon doubled with one out to bring up Butler. After taking a called strike to even the count at 2-2, Butler argued with the home plate umpire, not liking the strike call. Apparently the home plate umpire got in his face and eventually ejected Butler. Considering how mild-mannered he is, it must have been a BAD call. Tony Abreu finished the at-bat and struck out. The Twins decided to intentionally walk Perez, but it worked out as Mike Moustakas grounded out to end the inning.
That brings us to the Twins walk off heroics.
Next up, the Royals return home to play the playoff hopeful LA Angels. They will thankfully miss Angels ace Jered Weaver, but will have to face the three-headed monster of CJ Wilson, Zack Greinke, and Dan Haren over the weekend. The Royals will be throwing Bruce Chen, Jeremy Guthrie, and Will Smith.
*After Cain limped off the field with a hamstring injury (he will be re-evaluated on Friday), Jeff Francoeur moved from right to center field. Eric Hosmer moved to right field and Brayan Pena came in to play first base. Span’s double went over Hosmer‘s head in right field. I’m guessing the Royals didn’t think Span could pull the lefty because Hosmer was playing a bit shallow out there.