Hochevar hammered in Game 2 of doubleheader

Hochevar hammered in Game 2 of doubleheader

Hochevar hammered in Game 2 of doubleheader
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins beat the Royals and then the Millers beat the Blues. By any name, it was bad day for Kansas City baseball.

It was a sweep for the Land of 10,000 Lakes as the Minnesota Twins, after defeating the Kansas City Royals in the afternoon, 7-2, assumed the guise of the Minneapolis Millers and topped the Kansas City Blues at night, 5-1, in Saturday's doubleheader at Target Field.

"The first game we were dead and it carried over to the second game," a drained-looking Jeff Francoeur said. "We're a much better hitting team than to do what we did today. Very disappointing and, probably for me, the most disappointing day of the year -- coming in here with two games and getting swept like this. It's not good, especially after gaining all that momentum coming back."

Indeed, the Royals came into the doubleheader riding a four-game winning streak and were just four games under .500. Now they've got to fire up anew.

Turning back the clock for the night game, the teams were suited up in the uniforms of the 1951 Millers and Blues, members of the American Association when both cities were still in the Minor Leagues and had the farm clubs of the New York Giants and Yankees, respectively. That year's Millers had Willie Mays and the Blues had Mickey Mantle.

Maybe that's why the home runs were flying in the second game.

In just the first three innings, Royals starter Luke Hochevar gave up three homers -- a two-run shot by Josh Willingham and solos by Chris Parmelee and Joe Mauer. All of that activity ended Hochevar's string of 16 2/3 scoreless innings that he brought into the game.

"I didn't feel like my breaking stuff was very sharp today, it was just kind of looping in there and didn't have any bite," Hochevar said. "Two of those home runs came with two strikes when I was trying to put the guy away."

In fact, he had no strikeouts in his six innings. He had eight in his previous outing, a shutout over Tampa Bay.

Billy Butler struck a blow for the Royals in the second inning when he led off against right-hander Cole De Vries with a booming home run to left field, estimated at 423 feet. But the Royals could do no more.

The crowds that flocked to Target Field -- 37,694 fans in the afternoon and 37,629 more at night -- in the 90-degree heat enjoyed the hometown dominance.

The early-afternoon opener turned nasty for Royals starter Jonathan Sanchez in the fifth inning but what can you expect when an obviously foul ball hit by the Twins crazily twists fair?

With two on and one out, the Twins' Brian Dozier hit a little spinner which went into foul territory next to the batter's box by a good three feet, but then spun madly into fair ground.

"I've never seen a ball do that, a ball that was three feet foul curve back fair, but that was one of those circumstances where you don't expect that to happen because you think it's a foul ball and then the ball skirts back," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

Catcher Brayan Pena gave chase, grabbed the ball and tried a desperation toss to first baseman Eric Hosmer, but it was too late.

"I've never seen anything like that before," Pena said. "It was clearly a foul ball and then I saw it spinning back and then it was a fair ball. I saw Sanchez coming on and I thought the only chance I had was myself and I was a little bit closer to it."

Give Dozier credit for alertly tearing down the line.

"It was just spinning really, really hard. I was like well, why not. I'm dying for a hit. So let's take off and see what happens," Dozier said.

With Pena and Sanchez chasing the foul-turned-fair ball, home plate was left uncovered and Ryan Doumit scored all the way from second base.

"[Pena] ran over like it might trickle back into fair territory," Doumit said. "At that point, it made the decision to round third easy for me. There was obviously no one there. It was one of those weird plays. I've never seen a ball with that much spin on it. I was just going off their reaction. They ran over like they knew something I didn't. So I just kept going."

That was just the first of four runs in the inning, pushing the Twins ahead 6-0 and pushing Sanchez out of the game. His final totals were six runs on 10 hits and six walks while using up 101 pitches (56 strikes). The Twins also stole five bases, executing two double steals while he was on the mound, and Yost conceded that Sanchez lost focus on the runners.

"He sure did," Yost said. "At times when you're fighting your command, your whole focus and concentration is trying to get the ball over the plate and there was a couple of times where his focus was so intent that he forgot what was happening behind him."

Sanchez's fate could have been grimmer except that two Twins runners were thrown out at the plate -- one by center fielder Jason Bourgeois to complete a double play and another by Hosmer.

He hasn't won since his first start of the season.

"Every time I go out there, I fight. I haven't had my best stuff but, even if I don't have my best stuff, I go out there and fight," Sanchez said. "I'm just in a slump. It's just not working. I'm not throwing anything that's working right now."

Meantime, Twins left-hander Scott Diamond dominated the Royals for eight innings on a day not much worked right for them.

"We put three runs up today and we had been swinging the bats pretty good. It was just a tough day," Butler said. "It's hard to take when it's two of 'em the same day."

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.