Less than 24 hours after mounting a nine-run, 15-hit attack to halt a 10-game losing streak, the Royals’ pitching staff surrendered an early lead and lost to the Twins 8-5 at Target Field on Wednesday afternoon.
Salvador Perez had provided early fireworks for the Royals, scooping out Lance Lynn’s sinking fastball from below the zone and delivering it to left-center field for a three-run homer in the first inning. Mike Moustakas added a lead-off home run in the third.
But the Royals’ 4-2 lead evaporated in the fourth inning. After Burch Smith, who was on a 70-pitch limit in his first major-league start since Sept. 27, 2013, allowed two consecutive batters to reach base with one out, reliever Glenn Sparkman allowed three runs to cross the plate.
Instead of shutting down catcher Bobby Wilson, who entered the game with a .141 batting average, Sparkman watched as Wilson roped a double into the left-field corner and drove in his second run of the afternoon.
"It was a good first start for Burch," Yost said. "Left the ballgame with a 4-2 lead, runners on first and third. Sparkman came up, kind of hung a change-up there to Wilson, and then I mean the dreaded 40-foot base hit to drive in two on a swinging bunt. He did fine, too."
Brian Dozier, who sent home Wilson with a hit of his own in the fourth, was the first of two to drive offerings from Royals reliever Enny Romero into Target Field’s upper decks in the sixth inning. The blasts provided the Twins a cushion against a Royals offense that stranded the bases loaded in the sixth and was 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
Moustakas banged a homer off the upper deck facade in right-center field in the ninth inning for his first two-homer game since May 8.
Overturned call swings momentum: With two outs in the second inning, Smith thought he was safe to return to the dugout after he got Twins outfielder Max Kepler to ground out on a ball to Moustakas at third base. But the Twins won a challenge on the missed call: umpires determined that Kepler reached first base before Moustakas’ throw.
The Kepler single set into motion a string of four straight hits, including Jake Cave’s first career triple, which drove in the Twins’ first run of the game, and Wilson’s first RBI hit of the afternoon.
"Just bad pitches," Smith said. "The play before didn’t have anything to do with it."
Smith made it through 3 1/3 innings, over which he allowed seven hits and one walk while striking out four. He was charged four earned runs.
Back to the DL: Ian Kennedy, who departed Tuesday night’s victory after three innings because of a recurrence of tightness in his left side, was put back on the disabled list — because of a left oblique strain.
Bullpen notes: Since being claimed off waivers from the Pirates on Friday, Romero has made three underwhelming appearances for the Royals. He has been charged with four earned runs and has allowed three of four inherited runners to score.
Overland Park native Jason Adam, optioned back to Class AAA Omaha when the Royals activated Kennedy from the disabled list to make Tuesday's start, rejoined the Royals Wednesday morning. He'd been gone just long enough to get back to Kansas City, spend time with his newborn daughter and have dinner with his family before jumping back on a plane to Minneapolis.
Called on to pitch the eighth on Wednesday, Adam delivered a perfect frame, striking out Dozier and getting a pair of flyball outs.
Up next: The Royals, who fell to 26-66, travel to Chicago for the first time this season for a three-game series with the White Sox that begins at 7:10 p.m. Friday.