(Editor’s Note: This story has been modified post-publication to omit a winning percentage miscalculation).
On the last Tuesday night big league baseball will be played in Kansas City until next season, the KC Royals suffered the kinds of things they’ve battled all year.
They fell behind early. Minnesota had the Royals down 3-0 in the second, a deficit they hadn’t managed to overcome even once before Tuesday evening.
In his 5.1 innings, Zack Greinke had just the kind of rough start—too many hits (10) and too many runs (four, although one was scored off Amir Garrett but charged to Greinke)—that too often befalls this season’s rocky Kansas City rotation.
At least one reliever struggled a bit. José Cuas hit two straight batters in the eighth inning before manager Mike Matheny replaced him. Garrett didn’t have that kind of trouble, but did allow the run he inherited from Greinke in the sixth to score on a double.
But on this night, the Royals also did a few things they usually don’t, including beating the Twins … or anyone, for that matter. When all was said and done, KC won the first game of its final 2022 homestand 5-4. It was only the Royals’ fifth victory over Minnesota in 17 tries, and just their 59th win of the season. They avoided their 90th loss but must go 4-10 the rest of the way to avoid losing 100.
And after the miserable 1-5 road trip, including three losses to the Twins, KC just returned home from, It was an especially good win for a team beleaguered by bad losses and bad times.
The KC Royals did a lot of things right in beating Minnesota Tuesday night.
Be a bit disappointed if you missed last night’s game. The Royals were workmanlike in their win, playing the kind of game required of teams struggling to be good again.
They shook off falling behind early by scoring twice in each of the third and fifth innings and, after allowing the Twins to tie the game in the sixth, strung together three straight doubles to score the eventual winning run in the seventh. MJ Melendez, whose two-run homer in the third (the rookie’s 16th round-tripper of the year) pulled his club within a run, started it with a double to right, but was out at the plate trying to score on Bobby Witt Jr.’s two-bagger to left. Salvador Perez then doubled home Witt and the Royals had the lead they wouldn’t give up:
That wasn’t Kansas City’s only timely hitting for the night—the Royals defied their well-earned reputation for failing at the worst times by going a respectable 4-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
And they collected 11 hits, including those three clutch seventh-inning doubles and another in the third by Edward Olivares, who’s 4-for-12 with three doubles since returning from the Injured List Saturday.
Even Hunter Dozier, conspicuously quiet at the plate most of the season, got into the act. His solo home run tied the game in the fifth and ended a long personal homer drought—he’d been without one since July 31 and now has 11. An eighth inning single gave him his 23rd multi-hit game of the season.
And closer Scott Barlow, summoned by Matheny to replace Cuas with two on, one out, and a one-run lead in the eighth, struck out three to earn a four-out save.
A good win? Yes, it was.
Kansas City and Minnesota play the second game of their three-game series tonight. First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m. at Kauffman Stadium.