Royals

Royals starter Dillon Gee, KC offense struggle in 5-3 loss to Minnesota Twins

The Minnesota Twins’ Joe Mauer (right) congratulated teammate Robbie Grossman (36) after Grossman hit a home run in the fifth inning against the Royals on Saturday night in Minneapolis.
The Minnesota Twins’ Joe Mauer (right) congratulated teammate Robbie Grossman (36) after Grossman hit a home run in the fifth inning against the Royals on Saturday night in Minneapolis. The Associated Press

The latest act of Royals starter Dillon Gee — a middle-of-the-road performance in a 5-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins — will do little to soothe the pain at the back end of the rotation.

The latest showing of the Kansas City offense — two runs against a Minnesota starter named Tyler Duffey — will only renew questions about a unit too often plagued by anemia.

This was, more or less, the whole shebang on Saturday night at Target Field. The combination of mediocre starting pitching and little offensive production doomed the Royals as they attempted to build momentum on the road. The story of this latest road loss was not complicated.

“Just fell apart,” Gee said.

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The Royals’ offense sputtered against a starting pitcher (Duffey) that entered the night with a 5.93 ERA in 19 starts. The Twins, meanwhile, pounced on Gee after he appeared to tire in the bottom of the sixth inning.

With the Royals’ bullpen beginning to stir, Gee recorded one out in the inning and then gave up back-to-back homers to center fielder Eddie Rosario and second baseman Brian Dozier, who notched his 25th homer of the season.

Both pitches came on mistakes that suggested fatigue. Rosario punished a 1-0 fastball, drilling a two-run shot into the bullpen in left-center field. Dozier smashed a mistake fastball into the upper deck in left field.

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The blasts stretched the Twins’ lead to 5-1 as relievers Peter Moylan and Brian Flynn warmed up in the bullpen. In the moments after the second homer, Royals manager Ned Yost emerged slowly from the third-base dugout, yanking Gee after 96 pitches in 5  1/3 innings

“He was one hitter away from having a really, really good outing,” Yost said. “Rosario was going to be his last hitter. We were going to bring (Peter) Moylan in to face Dozier, and have Flynn for the switch-hitter and (Joe) Mauer.”

When Rosario went deep, Yost said he did not wish to burn Moylan in a 4-1 game. So he let Gee face one more.

“He was throwing the ball well,” Yost said. “He just elevated two pitches.”

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The degree to which Gee was throwing the ball well is perhaps open to interpretation. In five innings, he had limited the Twins to just two runs. But he had surrendered eight hits and a walk. When a reporter suggested that Gee had “cruised” through the first five innings, even he pushed back against that notion.

“I don’t know if those five were cruising,” Gee said. “I felt like I was battling pretty good, guys on base pretty much every inning.”

He added: “In the sixth, I just started elevating the ball, and they punished it.”

In total, Gee yielded five runs and 11 hits while striking out six. The majority of the runs came during the pivotal sixth. Gee fell to 2-6 as a starting pitcher as his ERA jumped to 4.78. Three days after earning a win in relief during a 14-inning victory over the White Sox, Gee appeared to run out of gas.

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“In that last sixth inning, I don’t know what it was,” Gee said. “The ball just starting elevating. And I wasn’t commanding it very well. They put good swings on mistakes.”

One night after the untimely death of the Rally Mantis here at Target Field, the Royals, 56-60, absorbed their second loss in seven games. The defeat marked the 60th loss of 2016 as the Twins evened a three-game series at a game apiece. And here, of course, is where we can point this out: A year ago, the eventual World Series champions did not suffer their 60th loss until Sept. 16. This year, the number came on Aug. 13.

The Royals can still notch their third straight series victory with a win on Sunday. Kansas City’s Edinson Volquez will face off against left-hander Hector Santiago, recently acquired from the Los Angeles Angels.

The offense, of course, must be better. On Saturday, it managed just three runs on eight hits. The middle of the order — Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer and Kendrys Morales — combined to go 0 for 12. Hosmer saw his season average dip to .274 after a blazing first half.

And, of course, there were opportunities missed. Rookie second baseman Raul Mondesi foiled a possible big inning in the fifth by popping up a bunt with two on and nobody out. Moments later, Paulo Orlando hit into an inning-ending double play. The Royals would put two runners on again in the eighth before coming away with nothing.

“(With) Mondi, that was a big play, because if we get the bunt down, Paulo’s ball, if they play the infield in, we get two runs,” Yost said. “If they don’t, we get at least one run.

“He’s an excellent bunter. (It) just shows there is nothing in this game that is a sure thing, no matter how good you are at it.”

Twins 5, Royals 3

Kansas City

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Orlando cf

4

0

2

0

0

1

.327

Cuthbert 3b

4

1

1

1

0

0

.301

Cain rf

4

0

0

0

0

0

.271

Hosmer 1b

4

0

0

0

0

1

.274

Morales dh

4

0

0

0

0

1

.246

Perez c

4

1

1

0

0

1

.263

Gordon lf

3

1

2

0

1

1

.208

A.Escobar ss

4

0

2

1

0

0

.254

Mondesi 2b

4

0

0

0

0

2

.196

Totals

35

3

8

2

1

7

Minnesota

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Dozier 2b

4

2

2

1

1

1

.266

Grossman lf

5

1

3

2

0

1

.270

Mauer 1b

3

0

1

0

1

1

.277

Sano dh

4

0

0

0

0

2

.250

Kepler rf

4

0

1

0

0

1

.258

Polanco 3b

4

0

1

0

0

1

.317

E.Escobar ss

4

0

1

0

0

0

.259

Suzuki c

4

1

1

0

0

0

.283

Rosario cf

4

1

2

2

0

0

.268

Totals

36

5

12

5

2

7

Kansas City

001

000

101

3

8

0

Minnesota

100

013

00x

5

12

2

E: Polanco (3), Pressly (1). LOB: Kansas City 6, Minnesota 9. 2B: Perez (23), A.Escobar (15), Dozier (27). HR: Cuthbert (10), off Duffey; Grossman (8), off Gee; Rosario (8), off Gee; Dozier (25), off Gee. RBIs: Cuthbert (37), A.Escobar (31), Dozier (69), Grossman 2 (27), Rosario 2 (27).

Runners left in scoring position: Kansas City 2 (Mondesi 2); Minnesota 5 (Dozier, Grossman 2, Kepler 2). RISP: Kansas City 1 for 9; Minnesota 1 for 8. Runners moved up: Suzuki, Rosario. GIDP: Orlando, Hosmer. DP:Minnesota 2 (E.Escobar, Dozier, Mauer), (Pressly, E.Escobar, Mauer).

Kansas City

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Gee L, 4-6

5 1/3

11

5

5

1

6

96

4.78

Flynn

2 2/3

1

0

0

1

1

33

2.84

Minnesota

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Duffey W, 8-8

7

6

2

2

1

6

103

5.72

Pressly

1

1

0

0

0

0

9

3.47

Kintzler S, 11

1

1

1

0

0

1

19

1.86

Holds: Pressly (10). Umpires: Home: Kerwin Danley; First: Paul Nauert; Second: Andy Fletcher; Third: Mark Ripperger. Time: 2:35. Att: 30,147.

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