Royals

Twins ride fast start to a 5-3 win over the Royals

Royals starting pitcher Joe Blanton (49) kicked at the dirt as the Minnesota Twins’ Joe Mauer (7) rounded the bases after hitting a two-run home run in the first inning Saturday night at Kauffman Stadium.
Royals starting pitcher Joe Blanton (49) kicked at the dirt as the Minnesota Twins’ Joe Mauer (7) rounded the bases after hitting a two-run home run in the first inning Saturday night at Kauffman Stadium. JSLEEZER@KCSTAR.COM

The Royals went all out with pregame festivities for Saturday’s Independence Day game.

An oversized U.S. flag required about two dozen handlers when it was unfurled in the Kauffman Stadium outfield. The Royals starters gave veterans autographed caps. The national anthem was played by the 312th Army Band, and there was a flyover from two F-16s.

The good vibes didn’t last, because the Minnesota Twins jumped on Royals starter Joe Blanton early in a 5-3 victory.

Two of the first four pitches from Blanton on Saturday were strikes. The first was hit to left by Brian Dozier for a single. The next was yanked over the right-field wall for a home run by Joe Mauer, and the Twins were up 2-0.

After an out, three more singles and a ground-out yielded another run and the Twins led by three before the Royals came to the plate.

Manager Ned Yost pinpointed Blanton’s troubles.

“Mechanically, his body was drifting,” Yost explained, “which means his body was going forward and not allowing his arm to catch up, resulting in a flat fastball and not as much bite on his sinker.”

Mauer took advantage of that with his home run.

“Fastball, almost down the middle probably,” Blanton said. “It was 2-0. I had missed on a couple and tried to be aggressive with one. Fell behind and thought he would maybe give one, but he didn’t. He came aggressive at it and hit it out.”

Yost said Blanton corrected the problem by staying back over the rubber more and allowing his arm to get into a good downhill position.

Blanton tossed three scoreless innings before the Twins tacked on a run in the fifth. Mauer singled, and one out later, Trevor Plouffe’s fly ball dropped just fair down the right-field line for a triple.

In the bottom of the inning, the Royals finally broke through against Twins starter Mike Pelfrey.

Omar Infante and Alcides Escobar led off with singles, and Mike Moustakas drew a four-pitch walk. A two-run single by Lorenzo Cain ended Pelfrey’s night. Brian Duensing came on in relief, and two fielder’s choices got Moustakas home.

It was 4-3, but this time, the Twins bullpen shut the door.

After Duensing, five more relievers procured the final 12 outs without allowing a run.

The Twins scored in the seventh inning when Brandon Finnegan yielded a pair of singles and Torii Hunter lofted a sacrifice fly against Kelvin Herrera.

For Blanton, it was a second straight rough start. After joining the team in mid-May as a reliever, he was thrust into the rotation because three starters (Danny Duffy, Jason Vargas and Yordano Ventura) went on the disabled list. Blanton’s first two starts went swimmingly; he had a 1.64 ERA in a pair of Royals wins.

His next two starts, Monday in Houston and Saturday, resulted in a 10.57 ERA.

“The start in Houston I was never able to make an adjustment, and today I was a little bit quicker,” Blanton said. “It’s unfortunate that the first inning went the way it did when four pitches in you give up two runs and put your back against the wall.”

The Royals’ offense seemed poised to bail out Blanton, but never got the big hit — outside of Cain’s two-run single. The Royals hit into two double plays, stranded a pair of runners in the second and left the bases loaded in the third.

“Cain is obviously swinging the bat well for us right now,” first baseman Eric Hosmer said. “Myself included, we’ve got to find a way to get it done with guys in scoring position. (Twins manager Paul) Molitor did a good job of bringing the bullpen in in the fifth, limiting the damage.

“We just couldn’t get to their bullpen.”

It was part of a frustrating game.

But, as a consolation prize for fans, there were postgame fireworks at The K.

Twins 5, Royals 3

Twins

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Dozier 2b

5

1

1

0

0

1

.259

Mauer 1b

5

2

4

2

0

1

.272

Tor.Hunter rf

4

0

0

1

0

2

.266

Plouffe 3b

4

1

3

1

0

1

.254

E.Rosario lf

4

0

2

0

0

0

.275

Sano dh

4

0

1

0

0

1

.333

Hicks cf

3

0

0

1

1

0

.232

Herrmann c

4

0

0

0

0

3

.156

Da.Santana ss

4

1

2

0

0

0

.221

Totals

37

5

13

5

1

9

Kansas City

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

A.Escobar ss

5

1

2

0

0

1

.277

Moustakas 3b

3

1

1

0

2

0

.303

L.Cain cf

3

0

2

2

1

0

.309

Hosmer 1b

3

0

1

0

1

0

.286

K.Morales dh

4

0

0

1

0

1

.282

A.Gordon lf

4

0

1

0

0

2

.260

S.Perez c

4

0

1

0

0

1

.263

Rios rf

4

0

0

0

0

0

.219

Infante 2b

4

1

1

0

0

1

.233

Totals

34

3

9

3

4

6

Twins

300

010

100

5

13

0

Kansas City

000

030

000

3

9

0

LOB: Twins 7, Kansas City 8. 2B: Mauer (15), Plouffe (19), Da.Santana (8), L.Cain (17). 3B: Plouffe (3). HR: Mauer (5), off Blanton. RBIs: Mauer 2 (41), Tor.Hunter (45), Plouffe (43), Hicks (4), L.Cain 2 (36), K.Morales (52). SF: Tor.Hunter.

Runners left in scoring position: Twins 5 (Herrmann 2, Tor.Hunter 2, E.Rosario); Kansas City 3 (Rios, K.Morales 2). RISP: Twins 1 for 9; Kansas City 2 for 7. Runners moved up: Hicks. GIDP: Sano, Moustakas, L.Cain. DP: Twins 2 (Da.Santana, Dozier, Mauer), (Dozier, Da.Santana, Mauer); Kansas City 2 (A.Escobar, Hosmer), (A.Escobar, Infante, Hosmer).

Twins

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

ERA

Pelfrey

4

7

3

3

3

3

3.94

Duensing W, 3-0

1

0

0

0

0

0

6.52

Pressly

1

1

0

0

0

1

2.93

A.Thompson

2/3

0

0

0

0

0

5.01

Boyer

1/3

0

0

0

1

0

2.39

Fien

1

1

0

0

0

0

3.86

Perkins S, 27

1

0

0

0

0

2

1.31

Kansas City

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

ERA

Blanton L, 2-2

5

9

4

4

0

4

3.74

Finnegan

11/3

2

1

1

0

2

2.37

K.Herrera

2/3

0

0

0

0

1

2.20

F.Morales

1

1

0

0

1

1

2.70

Frasor

1

1

0

0

0

1

1.54

Pelfrey pitched to 4 batters in the 5th.

Pressly pitched to 1 batter in the 7th.

Holds: Boyer (14), Fien (10), Thompson (9), Pressly (4). Inherited runners-scored: Duensing 2-1, A.Thompson 1-0, K.Herrera 2-1. WP: Pelfrey. Umpires: Home, Lance Barksdale; First, Quinn Wolcott; Second, Gary Cederstrom; Third, Eric Cooper. Time: 3:25. Att: 37,917.

To reach Pete Grathoff, call 816-234-4330 or send email to pgrathoff@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @pgrathoff.

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