Royals' quality efforts can't foil Twins in nightcap

Royals' quality efforts can't foil Twins in nightcap

Royals' quality efforts can't foil Twins in nightcap
KANSAS CITY -- In the last two weeks, the Royals swept a three-game series from each of the top two teams in the American League Central, the Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers.

Nice. But they cannot seem to beat the last-place Minnesota Twins.

That was evident on Saturday, when the Twins completed a doubleheader sweep by holding off the Royals, 8-7, at Kauffman Stadium. The Twins took the first game, 3-1, with rain still falling at mid-afternoon and finished up in pleasant, drying conditions with 23,189 fans eventually finding their way into the ballpark.

That left the Royals with a 4-10 mark against the Twins this year.

Even so, Kansas City manager Ned Yost came away from the second game with some good feelings.

"A lot of positives in that game -- Sal [Perez] with four hits, Billy [Butler] with three, the way the offense battled back, the defense was absolutely spectacular, the bullpen was phenomenal," Yost said. "A lot of good things in that game."

One big negative, however, was the performance of starting pitcher Luke Hochevar. The Twins ganged up on him for eight runs and two homers -- a three-run shot by Chris Parmelee in the first inning and a grand slam by Joe Mauer in the second.

"I was counting on him in the second game to hold the fort after losing the first game and give us a chance. When you're down 8-2 in the second inning, it's a bit of a hole to climb out of," Yost said.

In both innings, the Twins loaded the bases with no outs.

Coming into this game, Mauer was a .500 (13-for-26) hitter against Hochevar. So, after the game began with singles by Ben Revere and Alexi Casilla, Hochevar probably wasn't too dismayed when he walked Mauer on a 3-2 pitch.

"I'm just trying to make a good pitch; obviously he's not a guy with runners in scoring position you want to get too aggressive with," Hochevar said. "I was just trying to pitch smart."

Justin Morneau followed by rapping into a double play, a run scoring, before Josh Willingham walked. Parmelee followed with the homer over the right-field wall.

The Twins' second began with Drew Butera's walk, Pedro Florimon's double and Revere's walk. Hochevar struck out Casilla, working back from a 3-0 count, but up came Mauer to put a 1-2 pitch into the right-field seats. It was the third grand slam of his career and Minnesota's first this season.

"It wasn't good. I came inside on Parmelee and tried to elevate up-and-in on Mauer and they both got the head out and caught 'em both," Hochevar said. "That's where the damage was done -- and, obviously, falling behind and walking guys."

Yost was asked if he went too long with Hochevar.

"The job of the manager is to get a pitcher out one pitch before he gives it up, so yeah," Yost said. "But you've got a starting pitcher that you're counting on, that you have confidence in out there and you've got to give him the opportunity to work through it. Mauer hit a grand slam, Parmelee hit a three-run homer. It's just one of those things."

Hochevar walked four and was relieved in the second inning by Everett Teaford, who kept the Royals in the game with 5 1/3 scoreless innings. He got some good defensive help, notably from third baseman Mike Moustakas and second baseman Tony Abreu.

"I feel like the entire [ESPN] SportsCenter top 10 is going to be my innings pitched," Teaford said. "You can't ask for more than that."

Teaford gave up just three singles and Kelvin Herrera finished up with two hitless, scoreless innings.

The Royals came back, scoring all seven of their runs with two outs. Butler was in the middle of all four innings in which they scored with a double, two singles and a walk.

Perez contributed four singles, Moustakas had two run-scoring hits and David Lough had two hits and scored twice in his first Major League game. Eric Hosmer's two-run single in the seventh pulled the Royals to within one run.

But they fell short.

"We got ourselves a big lead, and then we kind of had to hold on the rest of the game, had to adlib to fight our way all the way through," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Adlib or not, the Twins most often are talking victory after playing the Royals.

"I can't say we didn't play well against them today, but we didn't win," Yost said. "I don't know -- we struggle to win ballgames against them."

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