KANSAS CITY -- Usually calm and stoic on the mound, Twins right-hander Ervin Santana usually doesn't let his emotions get the best of him while pitching.
But Santana was visibly irritated after throwing away a potential double play in the fourth inning with a one-run lead. Santana's next pitch was a high fastball that Eric Hosmer hit for a three-run homer down the left-field line -- opening the floodgates for a five-run inning that doomed the Twins in an 8-1 loss to the Royals on Friday night.
"If you ask my opinion, the game turned on one play and that was the comebacker," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "You have a chance to get a couple outs and nobody on base, and it turned into a big rally because we didn't execute."
It was another sloppy defensive play for the Twins, who have allowed 10 unearned runs over their last four games, while it was another rough outing for Santana, whose ERA is above 3.00 for the first time this season. Santana went 5 1/3 innings, allowing seven runs (five earned) on eight hits and two walks to fall to 10-5 with a 3.07 ERA. It was the sixth time over his last 11 starts he allowed at least five runs.
"I was frustrated because we practice that play a long time in Spring Training," Santana said. "I tried to be too quick because Lorenzo Cain runs well. After that play, I lost my control and I forgot about the game, and started throwing instead of pitching."
Santana and Molitor maintained that Hosmer's homer was foul down the left-field line, but Santana still took the blame for letting the inning unravel.
"It doesn't matter if I say anything because they won't change it anyway," Santana said. "But to me and everybody else, it was a foul ball. There's nothing I can do about that. He was thinking it was foul, too."
With the doubleheader on Saturday, the Twins hoped Santana would bounce back and eat up innings, but he ran into trouble again in the sixth, surrendering a solo homer to Mike Moustakas and a one-out triple to Escobar that knocked him from the game. It was the first time 17 starts this season that Santana was taken out in the middle of an inning.
"It felt unfamiliar," Molitor said. "He has a way, even the last game when he got a five-inning win, you try to give him opportunities to finish innings. After the five-run fourth, we went another inning and we tried to get another out of him, but he left a changeup up to Moustakas, and after the triple, I thought it was time."
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.