KANSAS CITY, Mo. (TNS) — The Royals turned a blowout into a nail-biter but had enough left to outlast the Twins 11-8 on Wednesday at Kauffman Stadium.
An early nine-run lead was reduced to one after six innings and the Royals were headed toward an epic collapse until a couple of turning points.
First, reliever Kevin McCarthy settled bullpen turbulence with a clean seventh inning.
Hunter Dozier then drove the first pitch of the Royals’ seventh over the left field wall for his first major-league home run and gave his team some breathing room.
The Royals seemed to have created all the comfort they would need with two runs in the first and seven in the second inning. Everyone pitched in. The first nine runs were scored by nine players.
Mike Moustakas drove in four of them. Left fielder Eddie Rosario misplayed a line drive into a two-run double in the first.
In the second, Moustakas got under a Fernando Romero pitch and lofted it toward the right-field corner. The ball dropped over the wall, 339 feet from home plate for a two-run homer. According to Statcast, the 46-degree launch angle was the highest of any home run in the major leagues this season.
Jorge Soler soon followed with what appeared to be another two-run shot. But the ball didn’t clear the fence. It bounced off the top of the wall and back onto the field and ruled a double. The Royals got the run, however, when Alex Gordon followed with an RBI single.
Ryan Goins then collected his second base hit of the inning, a two-run triple to right field that made it 9-0.
Clean sailing, right? The offense had given the Royals’ Brad Keller, making his first major-league start, an ample cushion.
The plan for Keller, starting in place of injured Eric Skoglund, was to throw 50-60 pitches. He logged 51. Trevor Oaks, summoned from Class AAA Omaha earlier in the day, was next up for a long relief assignment.
The Twins chipped Keller for one, and Oaks surrendered three runs in fewer than two innings.
Two more Royals relievers proved ineffective and suddenly this was a competitive ball game. The Twins had scored two in the fifth and four in the sixth to make it 9-8.
A Royals bullpen that had contributed eight scoreless innings in a 14-inning victory the previous evening, had been tagged for seven in three frames.
But the feeling shifted in the seventh with the work of McCarthy and Dozier. The Royals got another blast in the eighth when Soler powered his eighth home run this season and matched a career high with a four-hit game.
Streaking: Until the seventh inning Jon Jay was the only Royals player without a hit. But he extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a single. It was Jay's 43rd hit of May. Only George Brett, with 48 hits in 1976 and 47 in 1979, has more hits in the month for the Royals.
Next: The Royals are off Thursday. The Oakland A’s arrive for a three-game series beginning Friday. Ian Kennedy (1-5) will oppose the A’s Frankie Montas (1-0) in the opener.