KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For one brief moment, the Royals’ offense woke up in this series and delivered a series of clutch hits.
And then the offense quickly went back in hibernation.
No matter. That one moment was enough — a three-run sixth inning that propelled the Royals to a much-needed 3-2 win over the Minnesota Twins. The Royals now will go for their third straight series win Thursday night.
After a leadoff single by Omar Infante, the Royals delivered three clutch doubles — by Sal Perez, Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas — to plate three runs and wipe out a 1-0 deficit.
"Just huge for us," a happy manager Ned Yost said afterward. "And that tack-on run by Moose was pretty big."
The victory allowed the Royals to avoid their customary losing-spell-after-winning-streak pattern. The Royals had won five straight until dropping two straight prior to Wednesday’s win.
"They’re all big wins for us now until the end of the season," starter Danny Duffy said.
Duffy survived a season-high six-walk game, but managed to keep the Royals close with 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball.
"I didn’t have my best stuff," he said. "But I kept us in it."
— The shutdown pen. Again. Recently acquired Jason Frasor got the out of the night when, with two outs in the sixth and the bases loaded, he struck out Chris Colabello on a 3-2 pitch. That kept the score at 1-0 and kept the Royals close enough that they believed they could rally.
"Frasor was huge to keep us in the game at that point," Yost said.
Kelvin Herrera gave up two hits in the seventh and had the tying run at third and the go-ahead run at second with less than two outs. But Herrera fired a 100-mph fastball past Brian Dozier for a strikeout. Then Herrera topped that with a 101-mph heater past Josh Willingham for strike three. And actually, Herrera threw two 101-mph fastballs in the Willingham at-bat.
"Two?" Yordano Ventura, who lockers next to Herrera, asked incredulously while smiling.
"Yes, two," Herrera confirmed. "But that was after I put two pitches in the hitting zone earlier for them and they got hits. I didn’t like that."
And, of course, Wade Davis and Greg Holland did their usual thing in the eighth and ninth.
— Pickoff party. Minnesota’s Eduardo Nunez initially was called out on a double-play ball at first base in the third inning. The call was challenged and overturned. No worries: Duffy promptly picked off Nunez with his step-back move.
"I’ve been working hard on that," Duffy said.
The Twins’ Sam Fuld led off the fourth with a single. But he strayed too far off first after a pitch and Perez picked him off.
Later in the inning, the Royals got another free out: The Twins tried a double steal and Perez’s throw to Moustakas at third was perfect and would have had Brian Dozier. Moose, though, dropped the throw. Again, no worries. As the ball scooted away from Moose, shortstop Alcides Escobar picked it up and threw to home for an easy tag-out.
— Omar the table-setter. Give it up to Omar Infante, who diligently kept trying to wake up the Royals’ offense. Infante got on base four times for the night — three singles and a walk. The first three times he reached, the Royals did nothing to get him home. Finally, his leadoff single in the sixth triggered the three-run rally.
— Tough day for the Hoz. Eric Hosmer came up four times and each time there were runners on base. He struck out twice, popped out to shortstop and hit a weak grounder to first base, not advancing a runner all night. Granted, this was only Hosmer’s second day back while recovering from a deep bone bruise on his hand, so we’ll cut him a little slack. But he looked a bit like the Hosmer before his hot streak — the guy who swung at everything and refused to wait for his pitch.
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— Downer for Downs. Left-hander Scott Downs basically has one job — get lefties out. That’s why he’s on this team. He came in the seventh inning to face left-handed-hitting Chris Parmelee, fell behind 3-1, and then served up a leadoff double. That led to a run that pulled the Twins within 3-2. Interesting that Yost opted for Downs over left-hander Francisley Bueno (lefties are hitting only .209 against him this year).
"Downs had more rest than Bueno and though it was a small sample, he had better matchup numbers," Yost said. "I was trying to avoid using Herrera in that inning. But after the hit, I had to go get the power."
— Sal can’t do it all. The game was really on the line in the sixth with two out and the bases loaded for the Twins. Yost brought in Frasor to face Colabello, who eventually worked the count full. Then the Royals appeared to get out of the jam when Colabello hit a weak pop-up near the KC dugout. Hosmer rushed over from first, and Frasor rushed in from the mound. Perez came in a bit late and tried to make a sliding catch but wasn’t that close to getting it. It sure seemed from the press-box view that Frasor had the best angle to make the catch and probably should have gone ahead and taken it. Luckily, the Royals got out of it when Colabello struck out on the next pitch.