Royals 10, Twins 5
The Kansas City Royals seem as though they've been a team on the rise for years, with each crop of hot young prospects supposedly the group that is going to drag the franchise up from the depths of the AL Central.
Billy Butler is hoping this latest batch of fresh faces will finally help them finish the job.
Butler had three hits and three RBIs, and the Kansas City Royals' bullpen picked up struggling starter Luke Hochevar with four scoreless innings in a 10-5 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday night.
''I just think it's good for our young guys to get confidence. I think every year I've been here we've had good Septembers, but we got a good August and September,'' Butler said. ''Outside of a 12-game losing streak earlier in the season we've played really good baseball. ... We've been really consistent after that, and it's something we can build on in the offseason and it might make us ready sooner.''
Salvador Perez homered and drove in two runs for the Royals, who sent 10 batters to the plate in their five-run fifth and another nine in a four-run eighth.
The Royals went 17-11 in August and have won four of their last five games to improve to 6-6 in September. But they remain a few front-of-the-rotation arms away from being a legitimate threat.
Hochevar was supposed to be one of those guys, but he continues to underwhelm. He got behind 1-0 in the first on Wednesday night after a leadoff triple from Span, walked three straight batters in the third, including Doumit with the bases loaded, and gave up two more runs after the Royals handed him a 6-3 lead in the fifth.
''He hasn't won a game in his last seven starts and I wanted to get him over that hump,'' manager Ned Yost said. ''He was working hard out there, maybe a little too hard. He was trying with everything that he had to get over that hump, too. I was bound and determined to give him every opportunity to do it.''
Hochevar (8-13) won for the first time since July 31, but he gave up five runs on six hits with four walks and four strikeouts in five innings. Tim Collins pitched two innings before Kevin Herrera and Francisley Bueno finished the game.
''Of course that wears on you,'' Hochevar said of his skid. ''Regardless of that, I'm going to go out and fight for every pitch, I'm going to go out and compete to the best of my ability. Tonight, our offense picked me up.''
Joe Mauer missed his second straight game because of back spasms for the Twins.
Doumit, who has primarily served as the backup catcher to Mauer, has been working his way into left field more often recently to try to keep his bat in the lineup. The acclimation turned ugly in the eighth when he dropped a fly ball from Johnny Giavotella after a long run to the gap, then booted a hard-hit single by Alcides Escobar that allowed a run to score. Doumit's throw also allowed two runners to advance, giving him a third error in the inning.
It was the second time this season, and fourth since 2010, that a player has committed three errors in one inning, according to STATS LLC. Oakland first baseman Brandon Moss did it in the sixth against San Francisco on June 23.
''It's part of the learning curve,'' Doumit said. ''It's part of all that. It's embarrassing, but I'm going to learn from it and go out and get `em tomorrow.''
NOTES: Perez has a 16-game hitting streak, tied with A.J. Pierzynski for the longest by a catcher this season. ... Carroll has a career-high 10-game hitting streak. ... Twins RHP Cole De Vries will have an MRI exam on his sore ribs Thursday. His scheduled start has been tentatively pushed back from Friday to Sunday, pending the outcome of the test. ... The temperature at first pitch Tuesday night was 93 degrees. A day later, it was 58. ... RHP Liam Hendriks (0-7, 6.20 ERA) will pitch the series finale for the Twins against RHP Luis Mendoza (7-9, 4.63). Hendriks is still looking for his first big league win. He carries an 0-9 career record into the start. Mendoza served up three homers to the White Sox in his last start.