KANSAS CITY, Mo. (TNS) — Hot-hitting Jon Jay kept seeing double Monday against the Twins, but he lost sight of his base-running fundamentals in the Royals’ 8-5 loss to the Twins.
Jay smacked three doubles for the first time in his career and produced his 10th four-hit game. And when he came to the plate in the seventh inning, his drive to left center looked to spark a rally.
But when Whit Merrifield stroked a grounder to shortstop Eduardo Escboar, Jay took off for third and was easily thrown out.
"Mistake," Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Jay said he was trying to make something happen.
"I was trying to be aggressive," Jay said. "I saw the ball softly hit, but I've got to be sure."
Jay extended his hitting streak to 10 games and increased his American League lead for hits in May to 40. He wasn't impressed by any of it.
"I don't think about any of that stuff," Jay said. "I just show up every day and try to be consistent with my routine."
The base-running gaffe may have been the most obvious, but the Royals’ loss in the series opener was dotted with other key moments.
The Twins piled up five runs in the eighth and ninth against the Royals' bullpen. The eighth started when Robbie Grossman dropped a single that landed between left fielder Alex Gordon and shortstop Alcides Escboar because of miscommunication.
The inning ended with Eddie Rosario’s bases-clearing soft double.
Once again, the Royals were in a chase mode. They got two back in the eighth with a Jay bunt, throwing error and a Merrifield single, and one in the ninth on Jorge Soler's solo home run. But the gap was too wide.
"We had ample opportunities," Yost said. "The bottom of the order could have helped us there."
Royals starter Jacob Junis (5-4) took the loss after a terrific start. He struck out the side to open the game, with his punchout pitches registering 81, 80 and 82 mph on the radar gun. He finished with seven strikeouts, but Miguel Sano made Junis pay for his biggest mistake.
Sano was a strikeout victim in his first two plate appearances. That didn’t happen his third time up in the fifth.
Sano hit a moon shot that just eluded the glove of a leaping Jay in center. The ball dropped over the wall, driving in Brian Dozier, who had singled as the Twins opened the scoring.
The Royals quickly drew even. Jay’s second double led off the fifth and Merrifield followed with a four-pitch walk.
The Royals had been squandering scoring opportunities in the early innings, but Mike Moustakas made sure they cashed in this time with a double that flew over center fielder Byron Buxton and reached the wall.
Moustakas’ drive had tied it. But the Twins reclaimed the lead in the sixth when Dozier dropped a single into right field to score Mitch Garver from second.
The inning was Junis’ last. He had been the Royals’ slump-stopper this season. His five victories this season had come after a loss. This time, the Royals couldn’t come to his rescue.