All right, let’s be honest: Who saw this coming? Anyone raises their hand, and the rest of us are calling prairie chips.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
We’re not just talking about the 13-0 bludgeoning the Royals put on the Minnesota Twins on Monday night at Kauffman Stadium — although who foresaw that?
There was much to note, certainly.
Eric Hosmer established a career high with five RBIs with a two-run single in a six-run second inning that served, effectively, as a TKO. He then provided a three-run exclamation point with a 414-foot bomb in the sixth.
Jeremy Guthrie, 12-7, won his fourth straight start and set a career high with his club-leading 12th victory. And he did it in style with his second career shutout and sixth career complete game.
Mike Moustakas tied a career high with four hits and, yes, it’s no coincidence the Royals broke loose for 13 runs and 16 hits on a night when Hosmer and Moustakas each flexed their muscles.
And there was one overly exuberant fan who chose to frolic in the left-field fountains. That meant jail but, really, all of that was fine — the whole night was way more than fine, but ….
This makes 12 victories in 13 games now for the Royals and … yeah, just put your hands down. All of you. These guys are now five games over .500 at 57-52 while on a 14-3 burst since the All-Star break.
What’s it mean?
“It’s going to be a fun last couple of months,” Hosmer vowed. “The way this energy in the locker room is, when that game turns on, there’s one goal in everyone’s mind. That’s winning.
“Do whatever you’ve got to do at all costs to win. The way we’ve been playing lately, it’s been showing that. We’re feeding off the crowd’s energy now. This place was rocking tonight.”
Now … you want to dream a little?
What if the Royals, with their pitching and defense, find their offensive footing? Those 13 runs matched a season high. They so roughed up the Twins that infielder Jamey Carroll pitched the eighth inning.
“Tonight quite frankly,” manager Ned Yost said, “was probably the least stressful game that we’ve played all year long. It was literally a stress-free game.”
Guthrie got a nice ovation from the crowd of 21,474 when he trotted to the mound for the ninth inning. Three quick outs, and he had his shutout and a career high in victories. His previous best was 11 in 2010 for Baltimore.
“It’s a compliment to the team,” Guthrie said. “We’ve been struggling to score runs (overall), but they’ve done nothing but support me on the mound with a ton of runs. I’m grateful for that. I’ve been on the other side of it.”
“We’re playing good baseball. Hopefully right now, everybody can get in a groove and start piling up a lot of wins down the stretch.”
As Yost noted, this was that rarest of Royals’ victories: A true blowout. The 13-run winning margin was their largest in more than six years — specifically, since a 17-3 victory over Seattle on July 3, 2007, here at the K.
“It was a good performance from everyone,” Hosmer said. “The biggest key was Moose getting four knocks. He’s looking like the Moose we know. If we get him going, with our pitching, I think we’re in a good spot.”
Minnesota starter Kevin Correia, 7-8. worked around two singles in the first inning but collapsed in a six-run second and didn’t return for the third. And, really, neither did the Twins.
“Correia just didn’t have it,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He couldn’t make a pitch. They kept banging him early and often. … We just tried to get through the best we could without killing the bullpen.”
Guthrie opened the game by striking out Brian Dozier, but it took 11 pitches to do so despite jumping ahead 0-2 in the count. Guthrie then worked around a one-out single and a two-out walk.
Thereafter, he permitted just three hits in a brisk 106-pitch performance.
“We were able to get ahead early,” Guthrie said. “We threw a lot of first-pitch strikes. I thought the zone was consistent, and that allowed us to work in it. We knew where we could go with pitches.”
The Royals mounted a first-and-third threat in their first on a leadoff single by Lorenzo Cain and a one-out single by Billy Butler. But Correia struck out Alex Gordon and retired Miguel Tejada on a grounder to second.
Twins pitcher Kevin Correia didn’t slip away in the second after the Royals loaded the bases with no outs. Moustakas doubled to right, George Kottaras walked and Alcides Escobar reached on a bunt single.
The Twins got a force at home on Jarrod Dyson’s grounder to second, but Correia forced in a run on a four-pitch walk to Cain. Hosmer then drove a two-run single to right, and Butler followed with an RBI single to center.
That made it 4-0.
Gordon popped to second, but Tejada walked before Moustakas pulled a two-run single through the right side. That means, yes, Butler scored from second ahead of Chris Herrmann’s throw.
And it was 6-0. Correia finally ended the inning by striking out Kottaras. Brian Duensing took over in the third and worked three scoreless innings before the Royals stung Ryan Pressly for seven runs in 1 1/3 innings.
Hosmer’s three-run homer pushed the lead to 9-0 in the sixth against Pressly, when then gave up four more runs in the seventh. Escobar provided the key blow with a two-run single up the middle.
“We played great baseball as a team tonight,” Moustakas said. “It’s fun to be able to go out there, play good defense behind Guthrie and put up the runs we were able to put up tonight.”
Sure. Lots of fun. And it keeps getting better. Anyone know what’s coming next? Show of hands ….
To reach Bob Dutton, Royals reporter for The Star, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow his updates at twitter.com/Royals_Report.