It started as a nice friendly game. The Royals scored twice in the first inning and added a run in the fifth and it was enough. They got to the eighth inning with a 3-1 lead. Instead the Royals lost 4-3 in ten innings.
Kelvin Herrera came in and got a quick out. Then he hit Drew Butera. Then Chris Parmelee singled. Denard Span grounded into a potential double play, but Eric Hosmer had to jump for the ball at first and Span was ruled safe (though Hosmer may have had a toe on the bag on his way down from the catch).
With that opening, the Twins drew a walk to load the bases, then Josh Willingham walked to bring in a run. Greg Holland came in and struck out Justin Morneau to end the rally. Holland stayed in to try for a four out save but Trevor Plouffe homered to lead off the bottom of the ninth and tied it up. Holland got the next three outs but the save had been blown.
In the top of the tenth, Billy Butler was up with Alex Gordon on second after a one-out double when he took a pitch he thought was high. He asked umpire Mike Estabrook about it and it progressed from there. Estabrook stepped into the batter’s box, took off his mask and went face to face with Butler. During the discussion, Butler must have said the magic word and was ejected with a 2-2 count. Tony Abreu came up to finish the at bat and struck out.
Estabrook, you may remember, was the same umpire who took offense to comments by Jason Kendall in 2010 and stood in front of the catcher as if lecturing him. Ned Yost was ejected. Kendall called it unprofessional. It smacked of unnecessary by Estabrook in both instances.
But it’s not his fault the Royals gave up a run in each of the eighth, ninth and tenth innings. Prior to Gordon’s tenth inning double, the Twins had retired 12 in a row. The bats that were so potent the last two nights weren’t as active tonight.
To add injury to insult, Alex Gordon took a bump in foul territory going for a ball, colliding with the left field wall and getting a shoulder to the face (inadvertently) from a fan. He stayed in the game, though.
Lorenzo Cain wasn’t as lucky. Alexi Casilla led off the bottom of the tenth with a sinking liner to right-center. Cain dove for it and came down wrong and the ball went for a double. He was in pain on the ground with what turns out to be a hamstring strain and will be reevaluated tomorrow. After the injury, Jeff Francoeur moved to center (after replacing David Lough as a pinch hitter earlier), Hosmer moved to right field and Brayan Pena took over at first.
It didn’t make much difference, though, as Denard Span hit a drive to right that went over Hosmer’s head and drove in the winning run. Luis Mendoza was in line for the win after six strong innings where he struck out six, walked two, gave up two hits and had eight ground ball outs versus one fly ball out.
The loss prevented a Royals sweep of the Twins, though they did have a successful road trip after winning four out of six games. They’ll return home tomorrow to face the Angels.