Royals

Royals beat Twins 3-2 on ninth-inning walk-off double, earn series split

The Royals’ Eric Hosmer celebrated as he came off the field, passing Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe after his ninth-inning double scored Lorenzo Cain for a walk-off 3-2 win over Minnesota on Sunday at Kauffman Stadium.
The Royals’ Eric Hosmer celebrated as he came off the field, passing Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe after his ninth-inning double scored Lorenzo Cain for a walk-off 3-2 win over Minnesota on Sunday at Kauffman Stadium. JSLEEZER@KCSTAR.COM

The Royals were on their way to Sunday’s dramatic 3-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins around 4 a.m. That was when manager Ned Yost decided to give Alex Rios, and not Alex Gordon, a day off.

The question of who to sit among the outfielders was intruding on Yost’s sleep. He finally decided to play Gordon, and the decision paid off.

Gordon cracked a solo home run and robbed Trevor Plouffe of two hits with diving catches to support starter Danny Duffy.

“It just shows you how smart a manager I am,” Yost said with a laugh. “My initial thought was I was going to give Gordy the day off. But I’m lying there thinking he had a couple of good at-bats last night. His defense … We’ll have to find another day to give him a day off.”

Good call, although Gordon wasn’t involved in the game-winner.

That was authored by Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer.

They were the first two hitters in the ninth inning, and the Royals took full advantage of the first Twins pitches not hurled by Ervin Santana, who was making his season debut after sitting out 80 games for a steroid suspension.

Cain drew a five-pitch walk from Twins reliever Blaine Boyer. Up stepped Hosmer, who had been without an extra base hit since a June 19 home run, facing left-handed reliever Aaron Thompson.

Hosmer turned on a Thompson fastball on the inner half, and his line drive rolled between Torii Hunter and the right-field line to the wall.

The speedy Cain got the windmill signal from third-base coach Mike Jirschele. The relay throw was high and Cain slid under leaping catcher Kurt Suzuki, touching off a bench-clearing celebration.

For the second time in three days, the Royals had walked off with a victory over the Twins. Both by 3-2 scores, with Cain scoring the winning run both times.

The outcome allowed the Royals, 46-33, to salvage a series split and restore a 4 1/2 game lead over the Twins, 43-39, in the American League Central.

“You knew if it got by Torii we had a good chance,” Hosmer said. “From a personal standpoint, it’s the type of swing that can get you going again.”

Duffy didn’t figure in the decision, but he delivered his strongest performance since returning from the disabled list, going 6 1/3 innings with five hits, three walks and one strikeout.

He surrendered consecutive doubles for a run in the second and a solo home run to Aaron Hicks in the third.

“I felt really strong,” Duffy said. “For the most part I felt like was sinking the ball well when I really needed to.”

Those resulted in a pair of double-play grounders off Hunter’s bat and a terrific play by shortstop Alcides Escobar in the hole to get a force out at second, also off the bat of Hunter.

“It felt like it was 11 guys out there,” Hunter said.

Plouffe had his nemesis as well — Gordon.

Plouffe scalded the ball all day. His double resulted in the Twins’ first run. But in the fourth, Gordon ranged into the gap and dived to make a grab. He repeated the acrobatics against Plouffe in the ninth.

“I don’t have great speed, I don’t get to the balls as quick, so I have to make a diving play,” Gordon said.

Four Gold Gloves and a Platinum Glove as the American League’s best overall defender would argue against any shortcoming.

It was all good enough to beat a Twins team that has been one of baseball’s surprise teams in the season’s first half, and on Sunday do enough to stay in the game against a strong Santana, who struck out eight in eight innings.

Santana didn’t surrender a base runner until walking Omar Infante in the third. Infante came around on Drew Butera’s second RBI of the season.

When he left the game after eight innings, Santana had yielded only three hits.

“I can probably speak for everyone, we’re not playing our best baseball right now,” Gordon said. “To get a split is a satisfying way to end the series. Hopefully we can pick it up and start playing a little better.”

Royals 3, Twins 2

Twins

AB

R

H

BI

W

K

Avg.

Dozier 2b

3

0

1

0

1

0

.260

Mauer 1b

4

0

2

0

0

1

.275

Hunter rf

4

0

0

0

0

0

.262

Plouffe 3b

4

1

1

0

0

0

.254

Sano dh

3

0

2

1

1

0

.400

1-Santana pr-dh

0

0

0

0

0

0

.221

Rosario lf

2

0

0

0

1

1

.272

Nunez ss

4

0

0

0

0

0

.291

Suzuki c

3

0

0

0

0

0

.222

Hicks cf

3

1

1

1

0

0

.235

Totals

30

2

7

2

3

2

Kansas City

AB

R

H

BI

W

K

Avg.

Escobar ss

4

0

1

0

0

1

.276

Moustakas 3b

2

0

0

0

0

1

.301

a-Coleman ph-3b

2

0

0

0

0

1

.000

Cain cf

3

1

0

0

1

2

.305

Hosmer 1b

3

0

1

1

1

0

.287

Morales dh

3

0

0

0

0

1

.279

A.Gordon lf

2

1

1

1

1

0

.262

Infante 2b

2

1

0

0

1

1

.231

Dyson rf

2

0

0

0

0

0

.266

Butera c

3

0

1

1

0

1

.191

Totals

26

3

4

3

4

8

Twins

011

000

000

2

7

0

Kansas City

001

010

001

3

4

0

No outs when winning run scored.

a-struck out for Moustakas in the 6th.

1-ran for Sano in the 9th.

LOB: Minnesota 5, Kansas City 4. 2B: Dozier (26), Plouffe (20), Sano (2), Hosmer (15). HR: Hicks (2), off D.Duffy; A.Gordon (10), off E.Santana. RBIs: Sano (2), Hicks (5), Hosmer (41), A.Gordon (33), Butera (2). CS: E.Rosario (3). S: E.Rosario, J.Dyson.

Runners left in scoring position: Minnesota 4 (K.Suzuki 2, Tor.Hunter, Nunez); Kansas City 1 (Infante). RISP: Minnesota 1 for 9; Kansas City 1 for 2. Runners moved up: E.Rosario, K.Morales. GIDP: Tor.Hunter 2, A.Escobar. DP: Minnesota 1 (Plouffe, Dozier, Mauer); Kansas City 2 (Moustakas, Infante, Hosmer), (A.Escobar, Hosmer).

Twins

IP

H

R

ER

W

K

NP

ERA

Santana

8

3

2

2

3

8

93

2.25

Boyer L, 2-4

0

0

1

1

1

0

5

2.63

Thompsn

0

1

0

0

0

0

3

5.01

Kansas City

IP

H

R

ER

W

K

NP

ERA

Duffy

6.1

5

2

2

3

1

84

5.14

Madson

0.2

0

0

0

0

0

4

1.65

Davis

1

1

0

0

0

1

10

0.25

Holland W, 2-0

1

1

0

0

0

0

11

2.74

Boyer pitched to 1 batter in the 9th.

A.Thompson pitched to 1 batter in the 9th.

Inherited runners-scored: A.Thompson 1-1, Madson 1-0. IBB: off E.Santana (A.Gordon).

Umpires: Home, Quinn Wolcott; First, Gary Cederstrom; Second, Eric Cooper; Third, Lance Barksdale. Time: 2:20. Att: 29,427.

To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to bkerkhoff@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @blairkerkhoff.

Related stories from Kansas City Star

  Comments