Twins again leave too many on base in loss to Royals

The Twins' Eduardo Nunez stands at home after striking out with the bases loaded to end the top of the eighth inning in Minnesota's 6-3 loss to Kansas City on Thursday.

Ed Zurga/AP

Another game, another night in which Minnesota’s offense struggled.

For the second consecutive night, the Twins went just 2 for 12 with runners in scoring position against Kansas City. And once again, it resulted in a loss, this time a 6-3 defeat at the hands of the Royals.

Though Minnesota’s bullpen faltered in a four-run seventh inning, the Twins’ lack of timely hitting was again costly.

"Unfortunately, we’re just missing way too many chances early in the game, not coming up with the big hit," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "That always comes to show up late. That’s kind of what we’ve been doing. Again tonight, we missed opportunities when we got them."

The Twins had a few chances to convert with the bases loaded Thursday but came up empty both times. The first such instance occurred in the top of the fourth inning with Minnesota holding on to a 2-0 lead. Eduardo Escobar singled to advance Chris Parmelee to third base and catcher Eric Fryer to second with just one out in the inning. But Danny Santana popped out to the shortstop for the second out, and Eduardo Nunez struck out swinging to leave the bases loaded.

Minnesota again had the bases juiced in the eighth inning, this time trailing 6-3 after Kurt Suzuki — who signed a two-year contract extension earlier Thursday — doubled to drive in Oswaldo Arcia. Santana later drew a two-out walk to load the bases, but another Nunez strikeout ended the Twins’ late threat.

Royals 6, Twins 3

Those two situations with the bases loaded weren’t the Twins’ only miscues with runners in scoring position. Eric Fryer doubled with one out in the top of the sixth to send Parmelee to third base. Escobar then hit a grounder to the shortstop, and Parmelee took off for home. Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar threw to home plate to nab Parmelee as Minnesota ran into another out on the base paths.

When it was all said and done in Thursday’s series finale, the Twins left 11 runners on base. In Wednesday’s 3-2 loss, Minnesota stranded nine. And although the Twins won the series opener 2-1 on Tuesday, they still left eight on base.

When Santana led off the game with a solo homer, it appeared as if perhaps the offense would finally come through. But it was deja vu when Minnesota continued to struggle with runners in scoring position.

"We had some chances to add on, and we didn’t," Gardenhire said. "Guys are trying. Guys are getting out there. We had some good at-bats against them. We got plenty of people out there. . . . That’s a few too many in a ball game like this. They came up with the big hits and we didn’t."

Minnesota’s offense has struggled to score runs as of late, including Thursday’s three-run effort. That’s part of the reason, according to assistant general manager Rob Antony, that the Twins recalled first baseman Kennys Vargas from Double-A New Britain without having him stop at Triple-A. Vargas, who turns 24 on Friday, hit 17 homers and drove in 63 runs in 97 games for New Britain this year. He was in uniform Thursday in Kansas City and was on deck in the bottom of the ninth but did not get to make his major league debut. It’s expected he’ll play Friday against the White Sox and left-hander Chris Sale.

Perhaps the excitement of a big-league debut can help jump-start a sluggish Twins offense.

"When I saw him on deck, I said right away, ‘He’s playing tomorrow,’" Gardenhire said. "I just liked watching him swing out there."

FOX Sports North’s Jamie Hersch contributed to this report.

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