Royals struggle with Twins' patience at plate

KC pitchers trying to work through walks troubles in first two games

Royals struggle with Twins' patience at plate

MINNEAPOLIS -- Make that 16 walks issued by Royals pitchers in the first two games of 2017. Nine of those walks have come home to score.

"It's uncharacteristic," Royals pitching coach Dave Eiland said after the Royals' 9-1 loss on Wednesday. "It's just two games. But yeah, it's unacceptable."

Royals pitchers offered little in the way of an explanation. Starter Ian Kennedy, who walked five Wednesday, said he felt he was pushing his pitches. Reliever Nathan Karns, who walked two and gave up a three-run triple in the Twins' six-run seventh, simply said he was "a little off."

The Twins, of course, saw it another way: good patience at the plate.

"I think we have more walks than hits, but it works," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I think these guys understand that walks are part of the game and that if you can get on base in any fashion, you can contribute to opportunities to score runs. You have to cash them in, and we did a pretty good job of that today. So it's been a nice start."

Twins catcher Jason Castro led the way Wednesday with four walks, setting a career high. He has five walks in two games.

"I don't know what four walks feels like," Molitor joked. "You can just tell when a hitter is really recognizing pitches and not expanding. It's paid off. He's been getting on base."

Kennedy dug a hole when he walked Miguel Sano and Castro back to back in the second inning, then gave up two RBI hits and an RBI forceout.

The Royals never recovered.

"That second inning, I was pushing the ball," Kennedy said. "Everything I was trying to go down [with] was kind of leaking back over. The same thing with the curveball.

"It just stinks. I just felt like I beat myself."

Karns, who will start Sunday, said many of his pitches were missing by the smallest of margins.

Karns fans Grossman

"But I need to do a better job of getting ahead," Karns said. "I think I fell behind every hitter today. That's not what you want to do when you're trying to keep the ballgame within 3-1.

"We're just starting off on a bad foot. We'll tighten it up and get it going tomorrow."

Royals manager Ned Yost agreed.

"We're just not commanding the ball," Yost said. "You're just putting yourself in a position for them to put big numbers on the board when you walk that many."

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.