Royals hope to solve seventh-inning woes

Royals hope to solve seventh-inning woes

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Royals knew their once-vaunted bullpen would be in transition in 2017. Gone were stalwarts such as Wade Davis, Greg Holland and Luke Hochevar.

And so far through an uninspiring three-game sweep at the hands of the Twins, the 2017 bullpen has struggled mightily.

The Royals' bullpen gave up 14 runs over the first three games -- all in the seventh innings. In Thursday's 5-3 loss, Mike Minor surrendered two runs in that frame and took the loss.

Still, it's not even close to the stinginess Royals fans are accustomed to.

Castro's go-ahead RBI double

"It's a different look for them," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "They can mix and match with the three lefties. We kept [closer Kelvin] Herrera out of the series, which was a plus for us, playing ahead.

"But I think guys showed a lot of patience and had a good idea for what to look for and what pitches they have. It's just part of our preparation to have our hitters be accountable."

It didn't matter whom Royals manager Ned Yost sent out in the seventh in the series -- Travis Wood, Matt Strahm, Minor, Nathan Karns -- they all took their lumps.

"We'll get that sorted out," Yost said. "They just got to get settled in. I think [Joakim] Soria was good today. … We didn't have this problem in Spring Training. It'll iron itself out."

Strahm working on mechanical issue

Minor was victimized by one bad pitch, a slider that hung to the Twins' Jason Castro, who doubled in the go-ahead run in the seventh.

"I overcorrected," Minor said. "I spiked a few [sliders], so I overcorrected and it flattened out."

One major issue for Royals pitchers, starters and relievers, was finding the strike zone. They walked 23 in 24 innings.

"That's unheard of," Royals starter Jason Hammel said. "That's just absurd. We got to throw strikes."

Minor, though, didn't seem overly concerned.

"It's three games in," Minor said. "I think guys are just trying to get in a groove. I don't really think too much into it, first three games of the season. We'll bounce back."

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