Twins suffer sweep in Kansas City despite 10 strikeouts from Santana

BY foxsports • August 21, 2016

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Minnesota Twins just couldn't get the big hit they needed.

The Twins loaded the bases in the second with none out and came away empty. They had runners on first and third with one out in the fourth, but failed to score in a 2-1 loss to the Kansas City Royals, who have won eight straight.

"We had our chances," Twins second baseman Brian Dozier said. "We just didn't, like Nate Diaz last night, he just didn't pop him when he had the chance."

Diaz lost a decision to Connor McGregor in a UFC fight Saturday night.

The Twins were shut down by Kansas City left-hander Danny Duffy, who won his 10th straight decision.

The Royals swept a four-game series from the Twins for the first time since 1999 and have their longest winning streak since an eight-game run Aug. 3-11, 2014. The Royals have won 13 of 15 since the Rally Mantis showed up in the dugout.

Duffy (11-1), unbeaten since June 6, improved to 5-0 with a 1.18 ERA in August. His 2.66 ERA ranks second in the American League, while his .917 winning percent tops the majors.

Duffy left after 6 2/3 innings, allowing one run and a season-high eight hits while walking two and striking out four.

"You know, this a lot better game for us in terms of competing compared to yesterday (a 10-0 loss), but still we have fallen short in terms of taking advantage of opportunities," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "And when you've got your best pitcher going, those things can become huge."

Duffy outpitched Twins right-hander Ervin Santana (6-10), who allowed two runs and five hits while striking out 10 and walking one over seven innings.

"Ervin had a really nice day," Molitor said. "We didn't back him up particularly well defensively, but, he made some pitches to get off the field. He minimized as best he could. Not enough timely hitting and the defense needs to continue to improve. Ervin was as good as advertised."

Santana has a 1.91 ERA in his past 11 starts after beginning the season 1-7 with a 5.10 ERA.

"The way he's been pitching the last few games, he's lights out," Santana said of Duffy. "He's doing his job. He's doing what he's supposed to do. He just keeps everybody off balance. He just locates his fastball and his changeup. So, that's what makes him better today."

Duffy worked out a no-out, bases loaded jam in the second inning with the help of a couple of fielding gems. After Eddie Rosario struck out, Alex Gordon made a sliding catch of Kurt Suzuki's fly to shallow left. Third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert snagged Danny Santana's hard hit grounder and threw out Eduardo Escobar at second base.

Hosmer's two-out double in the sixth over the head of center fielder Rosario scored Lorenzo Cain, who had an infield single.

Hosmer singled in the second, moved to third on Kendrys Morales' double and scored on Alcides Escobar's ground out for the first Kansas City run.

"It's terrible, man," Dozier said to be swept by the Royals. "We're playing good, it seems like. These past four games we've always make that one mistake and against good teams like Kansas City, it's not getting people in, bases loaded, nobody out, that's the ballgame."

Robbie Grossman and Trevor Plouffe doubled in the third to produce the only run off Duffy.

Kelvin Herrera pitched a perfect ninth to log his seventh save in nine chances.

Molitor turns 60 Monday. "There's some plans being made for me," Molitor said. "I'll be a willing participant. It'll be nice to have an off day and do some things with the family. But not celebrate, I'm past that point."

1B Joe Mauer, who is a career .326 hitter with 14 home runs and 111 RBI against the Royals, went 0 for 12 in the series and was not in the lineup Sunday. He grounded out as a pinch hitter in the ninth.

The Twins recalled RHP Pat Light, who was acquired from Boston on Aug. 1, from Triple-A Rochester, where he had a 2.57 ERA in six outings. He appeared in two games for the Red Sox this season, giving up seven runs in 2 2/3 innings.

Royals: RHP Kris Medlen (rotator cuff inflammation) made a Saturday rehab start for Triple-A Omaha, allowing three runs and two hits, including a home run, and a walk in 1 2/3 innings against Nashville. He threw 22 strikes in 34 pitches.

Twins: RHP Kyle Gibson starts the series opener against Detroit on Tuesday. Gibson threw a complete-game Wednesday at Atlanta.

Royals: RHP Yordano Ventura starts the series opener at Miami on Tuesday. Ventura is 0-2 in two interleague starts, yielding 11 runs over eight innings.