Royals

Jorge Lopez flirts with perfect game in Royals’ 4-1 win over Twins

Pitcher Jorge Lopez (center) left after he was pulled in the ninth inning against the Minnesota Twins. Lopez had a perfect game through eight innings but gave up a walk and a hit in the ninth. The Royals won 4-1.
Pitcher Jorge Lopez (center) left after he was pulled in the ninth inning against the Minnesota Twins. Lopez had a perfect game through eight innings but gave up a walk and a hit in the ninth. The Royals won 4-1. AP

Roughly six weeks after joining the Royals, right-hander Jorge Lopez nearly etched his name in the history book.

Lopez, who was acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers as part of the Mike Moustakas trade, took a perfect game into the ninth inning of Saturday’s game before faltering in the Royals’ 4-1 win over the Twins in Minneapolis.

Twins right fielder Max Kepler opened the ninth with a walk. Robbie Grossman then lined a ball over Lopez’s glove for a single to center. Wily Peralta then came on and got the final three outs, which included a sacrifice fly for Minnesota’s only run.

In a season that could go down as the worst in terms of wins and losses for the Royals, Lopez provided a brief respite as fans were glued to their TVs on a Saturday night usually dominated by college football.

“I didn’t have my best stuff, but they were there in back of me and it was awesome to watch them,” Lopez told Fox Sports Kansas City’s Joel Goldberg about the defense after the game.

Goldberg was incredulous and responded: “That was not your best stuff?”

“Well,” Lopez said, “I didn’t feel my best stuff, you know. But as a pitcher, you know, you just keep attacking to the hitters and try to do the most you can do.”

Lopez, 25, was indeed helped out by his defense, particularly in the fourth inning when right fielder Jorge Bonifacio ran back to the wall and speared a line drive off the bat of Jorge Polanco. In the sixth inning, Ehire Adrianza hit a ball toward the left-center field gap that was tracked down by Alex Gordon.

“The one that really kind of caught my eye and I started thinking ‘hey this might be one of those nights,’ was in the sixth inning when that ball hit kind of in the gap that Gordon made the play,” manager Ned Yost said on FSKC after the game. “(Center fielder Brian) Goodwin never saw the ball, Gordy saw the ball, looked at Goodwin and looked back up and couldn’t find the ball. So he was like I’m just going to run and hope I find it again and he did and made the catch.

“When he told me that, I’m like, ‘OK, this might be one of those nights.’”

Royals shortstop Adalberto Mondesi made a couple of nice plays, one in the seventh and again in the eighth inning, to keep the perfect game going.

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Yost told FSKC that he had never managed in a game when there was a no-hitter for his team and was a nervous wreck in the dugout. Catcher Salvador Perez, however, kept up his usual jovial ways.

“Salvy was smiling and easy going and I asked Salvy, ‘how did you keep so easy going and calm and stuff,’ and he goes, ‘I didn’t even know he had a no-hitter,’” Yost told FSKC. “He was just his own natural self until about the eighth inning and he looked up there and saw no hits.”

That wasn’t the case with second baseman Whit Merrifield.

“I’m always pretty aware of it early on because I always wanted to play in one,” Merrifield told FSKC. Merrifield added that no one was talking about perfect game in the dugout.

Early on, it didn’t seem that Lopez would be causing his manager to be so nervous. Lopez needed 19 pitches just to get through the first inning as all three Twins batters reached a three-ball count.

But Lopez found his groove after that and retired the first 24 Twins he faced. Lopez’s effort was historic in one sense: It was the first time a Royals starter had ever taken a perfect game into the ninth inning.

“I didn’t know that one,” Lopez said on FSKC. “It’s an honor. God put me in this situation right now. This is for my family, Puerto Rico and for the Royals.”

Lopez was trying to throw the fifth no-hitter in Royals history. Steve Busby did it in 1973 (at Detroit) and 1974 (at Milwaukee), Jim Colborn no-hit the Rangers at Royals Stadium in 1977, and Bret Saberhagen threw a no-hitter against the White Sox in Kansas City in 1991.

Royals third baseman Hunter Dozier’s RBI single in the sixth inning in Saturday’s game broke a scoreless tie. An inning later, Merrifield had an RBI single, Mondesi doubled him home and Gordon’s run-scoring single made it 4-0.

At that point, there were nothing but zeroes on the board for the Twins. Unfortunately for Lopez, it didn’t stay that way, but it was a night he likely won’t forget.

Royals 4, Twins 1

Kansas City

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Merrifield 2b

5

1

2

1

0

0

.304

Mondesi ss

5

2

2

1

0

1

.270

Gordon lf

5

0

1

1

0

2

.239

Dozier 3b

4

0

1

1

0

2

.236

O’Hearn 1b

3

0

1

0

0

0

.261

Perez c

3

0

0

0

1

0

.233

Bonifacio rf

4

1

1

0

0

2

.244

Goodwin cf

3

0

0

0

1

2

.245

Herrera dh

3

0

0

0

1

0

.224



Minnesota

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Mauer 1b

4

0

0

0

0

1

.271

Polanco ss

4

0

0

0

0

0

.271

Rosario dh

3

0

0

0

0

0

.292

Forsythe 2b

3

0

0

0

0

0

.239

Cave cf

3

0

0

0

0

1

.261

Garver c

3

0

0

0

0

1

.260

Kepler rf

2

1

0

0

1

1

.226

Grossman lf

3

0

1

0

0

0

.261

Adrianza 3b

2

0

0

1

0

0

.249



Kansas City

000

001

300

4

8

0

Minnesota

000

000

001

1

1

0

LOB—Kansas City 8, Minnesota 1. 2B—Mondesi (10), Bonifacio (13). RBIs—Merrifield (52), Mondesi (21), Gordon (40), Dozier (27), Adrianza (31). SB—Merrifield (31), Mondesi 2 (20). SF—Adrianza.

Runners left in scoring position—Kansas City 5 (Gordon 2, Perez, Herrera 2). RISP—Kansas City 3 for 11; .

Runners moved up—Herrera.

Kansas City

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Lopez, W, 2-4

8

1

1

1

1

4

110

3.72

Peralta, S, 9-9

1

0

0

0

0

0

9

3.96

Minnesota

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Berrios, L, 11-11

6

3

1

1

2

5

95

3.83

Duffey

<AF>2/3

3

3

3

0

1

20

9.00

Vasquez

<AF>2/3

1

0

0

0

1

14

0.00

Curtiss

<AF>2/3

0

0

0

0

1

7

15.43

Reed

1

1

0

0

1

1

22

4.70

Lopez pitched to 2 batters in the 9th.

Inherited runners-scored—Peralta 2-1, Vasquez 1-1. HBP—Berrios (O’Hearn). PB—Garver (9).

Umpires—Home, Bruce Dreckman; First, John Libka; Second, Chad Fairchild; Third, Kerwin Danley.

T—2:42. A—25,814 (38,649).

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