Hey, what’s this? A little life, suddenly, from the once-thinning blue wave?
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
The Royals have their first two-game winning streak in more than a month after rallying Thursday for a 7-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins at Kauffman Stadium.
Eric Hosmer’s RBI single in the eighth inning broke a 3-3 tie and ignited a four-run burst that Lorenzo Cain capped with a two-run run homer.
A homer. The first homer by a Royals player in 52 innings. And the first homer by a Royals player with someone on base in 148 innings — or since Miguel Tejada’s three-run laser on May 20 in Houston.
“It’s been a while for all of us,” Cain conceded. “We’ve all been struggling a little bit, but getting the bats going tonight was definitely great for our team. Hopefully, we can keep it going.”
Tim Collins, 2-1, got the victory, after working two perfect innings, when Greg Holland pitched a scoreless ninth in a non-save situation.
The last time the Royals won consecutive games was May 4-5 against the White Sox, which preceded a 4-19 collapse. The Royals also won a series, two of three, for the first time since May 13-15 at Los Angeles.
“We’ve always felt confident,” designated hitter Billy Butler said. “We had a bad May, but our confidence isn’t wavering. You could see it tonight when we were down three runs and kept battling back.
“We finally exploded there in the eighth, and our pitching staff is good. Our record speaks for itself when we can score four or more runs.”
It was 3-3 when Alex Gordon started the eighth inning with a slicing double to left-center against reliever Jared Burton, 0-3, that just fell beyond the diving attempt by center fielder Clete Thomas.
Hosmer followed by pulling a single — pulling a single! — through the right side for the go-ahead run.
“With Gordo at second right there in the late innings,” Hosmer said, “my sole goal is to get a ground ball toward second base. Fortunately, they were playing up the middle, and it found a hole this time. That was, as Butler noted, the magical fourth run; the Royals are now 18-5 when they scored at least four runs.
But they weren’t done.
Salvy Perez’s grounder to second resulted in a force at second, but Butler drove an RBI double into the right-field corner. Perez was throwing oil by the time he reached the plate, but the Royals had a two-run lead.
“I don’t feel for him,” Cain said. “We need those runs. It was exciting to see him run around the bases a little bit. I would like to see more of that actually. It was fun to watch.”
Pinch-runner Elliot Johnson went to third on Mike Moustakas’ grounder to second before Cain sent a 396-foot bomb over the left-field fence.
All four runs came against Burton, who entered the night with a 2.03 ERA in 27 previous appearances.
“Burton doesn’t have too many nights like that,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. “A couple balls off the end of the glove there and one rolled through the hole. Next thing you know, you get in a little bit of a jam there.
“And he made a really bad pitch to Cain.”
The Royals trailed 3-2 before pulling even against Twins starter Mike Pelfry in the sixth after Hosmer’s one-out fly to left eluded a twisting, turning Josh Willingham for a double.
Perez followed with an RBI single to right and took second on the throw to the plate. But shortstop Pedro Florimon turned Butler’s bid for a tie-breaking single into an out on a wide-ranging play up the middle.
The Royals also missed a chance to take the lead in the seventh after David Lough reached on a one-out single and went to second on a throwing error by Pelfrey on a pickoff attempt.
That error set the Twins’ bullpen in motion. Brian Duensing retired Chris Getz on a grounder to second, which moved Lough to third, before Casey Fien ended the inning by getting Alcides Escobar on a pop to second.
That only set the stage for the four-run eighth.
“We’re getting better,” manager Ned Yost said. “We’re starting to come out of it. We’re seeing some really good signs.”
To reach Bob Dutton, Royals reporter for The Star, send email to email@example.com. Follow his updates at twitter.com/Royals_Report.