KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Four of the five teams in the American League Central entered play over .500 on Sunday, Aug. 9, the most of any division in baseball.
The fifth, an improved Royals team, completed a sweep over the Twins on Sunday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium. The Twins, despite having Jose Berrios on the mound, fell 4-2 to the Royals for their fourth straight loss.
For the second time in three days, the Twins’ offense was mostly quieted by the Royals, scoring just a pair of runs off rookie Brady Singer, a first-round draft pick in 2018. Both came in the third inning — one on a Max Kepler double and the other on a Jorge Polanco groundout.
“Just in general, the offense is a little flat. A few guys maybe not seeing the ball as well as they normally would. But also, we’re probably missing some fastballs that we would normally be on,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Balls that are hittable pitches, balls that are not too high up in the zone or out of the zone. Balls that are directly in the zone and we would want to be looking for them and just not having the quality of contact that we are accustomed to and that we would expect.”
Though those two runs tied the game at the time — Berrios had given up a pair of runs in the first inning — the righty wasn’t able to hold the game there.
Berrios issued a four-pitch walk to Whit Merrifield to lead off the bottom of the third inning, and shortly after, Salvador Perez brought him home on a sacrifice fly for what would wind up being the winning run.
“For me, that walk, I threw four balls in a row and he scored, so when I got out of the inning, I was mad, but after that, I just tried to turn the page and go out there and keep doing it for my team,” Berrios said.
Berrios also gave up a home run to Maikel Franco in the bottom of the sixth before departing after 5 1/3 innings. Singer, his counterpart, went five innings before turning it over to the Royals’ bullpen. The bullpen turned in another strong effort against the Twins, giving up just two hits over the remaining four innings.
“Something their staff did the entire series — even when we got into pretty good counts or had a guy or two on base and they needed to make a good pitch, deep in the count, toward the end of the at-bat, they made good pitches,” Baldelli said. “They executed when they needed to, and they won more at-bats than we did.”
The Twins are in somewhat unfamiliar territory, having suffered just one four-game losing streak last year — coincidentally also Aug. 6-9 — though they still sit in first place in their division and are confident they will be able to turn it around soon.
“We went through some stretches last year where we didn’t play so hot. That’s always going to happen,” Baldelli said. “We knew it would happen this year. We talk about consistency in the way we show up to the field every day and prepare as being some of the most important factors in what we do. When you show up and start changing everything, then you end up sending red flags and signals and then everyone’s on edge. We don’t do that very often and we’re not doing it now.”