By Jeffrey Flanagan and Do-Hyoung Park
MLB.com |@FlannyMLB |
MINNEAPOLIS -- Put this in the category of rare.
The Royals' sagging offense, which ranks last in the American League in runs, suddenly erupted on Sunday against the Twins, pounding out 16 hits for an 11-4 victory in the rubber game at Target Field. It was their biggest offensive outburst since June 18 -- a 16-5 win over Detroit.
"One of the more difficult games to watch us play on the defensive side," said Twins manager Paul Molitor, whose team committed four errors. "Aesthetically, not very pretty at all. We had a chance to make a lot of plays and we didn't make very many of them."
Paulo Orlando led the way with four hits, including a triple and a three-run homer. He fell a double shy of the cycle. Lorenzo Cain also added a four-hit game.
Royals right-hander Edinson Volquez navigated through six serviceable innings, giving up five hits and two earned runs to pick up the win.
"We got a pretty good team and they can score runs for me," Volquez said. " It's not surprising to me to get the support today. I'm really happy because I don't know how long since I got a quality start [July 24]. It's a good feeling."
Twins starter Hector Santiago, who hadn't made it through the sixth inning in each of his previous five starts, this time could not get an out in the fifth. Santiago gave up nine hits and seven earned runs in four-plus innings.
"I made some good pitches, and they fouled them off," Santiago said. "I made some bad pitches, and they didn't miss them. I'm making progress. I came out of the game with no walks, and that's two games with one walk so I'm pounding the zone with a low pitch count. I'm taking positives from it, but I've got to be a little better."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED A day for Paulo: Orlando got things started with a leadoff triple off the right-field wall. He scored on Cain's sacrifice fly to right. Orlando then powered a three-run homer into the upper deck in left field to cap the six-run fourth inning. That was Orlando's fourth homer and it put the Royals up 7-1. Orlando matched a career high with a four-hit game, his last coming on June 18. Orlando faced right-hander Ryan Pressly in the ninth as he tried to get a double for the cycle -- he singled instead. More >
"Yeah, that guy throws hard," Orlando said. "I hoped he would throw a breaking ball. He threw it first pitch and I tried to go the other way, but I was late. Then, I made an adjustment and he threw it right down the middle, and I hit it right back up the middle."
Said Royals manager Ned Yost of Orlando, "He's been very, very solid. It's just amazing his consistency. It just seems like he gets two and three hits every night.
Defensive misadventures: The Twins committed three errors in the sixth inning that led to four unearned runs. Third baseman Jorge Polanco, who almost exclusively played second base in Triple-A, allowed Christian Colon to reach on a one-out fielding error and booted another grounder following a walk to load the bases. That led to a two-run single by Cain, and two more runs scored after Robbie Grossman dropped a line drive in left field.
"Six two-out runs are tough," Molitor said. "We tried to hang in there a little bit and then the defense let us down where they were able to add on. There's not really a lot to explain it. We're trying to work on catching the ball."
The LoCain Train: Cain had his first four-hit game since May 24, also against the Twins. Cain doubled and scored in the big fourth inning, singled in the fifth, and delivered a two-run single in the messy sixth inning when the Twins committed three errors. He also singled in the eighth.
"I definitely have been scuffling," Cain said. "I tried to choke up and shorten my swing a little today and it worked."
Dozier does it again: Kansas City had a hard time keeping Dozier in the park this series, as the second baseman went yard for the third time in the three-game set with his solo homer in the third inning. It traveled an estimated 381 feet from the plate and left the bat at 104 mph, according to Statcast™. He has now homered 17 times since June 26 to lead the Major Leagues in that span.
"You know, at the end of the Spring Training, if you told me in the middle of August that Paulo Orlando would be doing what he's doing, I mean, I'd have a hard time believing it. But after seeing it all summer long, it's just phenomenal the year that he's put together, and it's not fluky stuff." -- Yost
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Thirty-seven-year-old Chris Young registered his first career save, pitching the final three innings. He is the oldest Royals pitcher to record a save.
Dozier led off Saturday's game with a double and looked to do the same on Sunday with a sharp ground ball down the third-base line, but Royals third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert made a diving stop to cut the ball off. Cuthbert double-clutched on the throw and Dozier was initially ruled safe, but after a short review, the call was overturned.
WHAT'S NEXT Royals: Right-hander Ian Kennedy (6-9, 3.91 ERA) gets the ball on Monday at 6:10 p.m. CT for the opener of a three-game set at Comerica Park. Kennedy gave up one run and six hits over 6 1/3 innings on Wednesday against the White Sox.
Twins: After playing 30 games in 31 days after the All-Star break, the Twins will have a much-needed off-day on Monday before right-hander Ervin Santana (5-9, 3.62) starts on Tuesday at 6:10 p.m. in the series opener against the Braves at Turner Field. Santana shut out the Astros over 2 1/3 innings on Wednesday before the game was postponed by rain.