AP Sports Writer
POSTED: 8:40 a.m. HST, Apr 20, 2014
KANSAS CITY, Mo. >> Maui's Kurt Suzuki homered and drove in three runs for the Twins, and Aaron Hicks also drove in a run. But it wasn't enough for the Minnesota Twins, who lost 5-4 to the Kansas City Royals.
The Twins hurt themselves with their shaky defense.
Right fielder Chris Colabello misjudged a fly ball. Third baseman Trevor Plouffe never saw a liner hit at him. And catcher Josmil Pinto made the most glaring mistake when he threw the ball into left field for an error during a double steal.
The result of all that Minnesota mayhem was a five-run fourth inning for the Kansas City Royals.
"These plays ended up costing us a ball game," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire
Kevin Correia (1-1) wound up allowing all five runs, only four of which were earned, on nine hits and two walks in just six innings. But at least some of them could have been avoided.
Or rather, should have been avoided.
"We're a starting staff that pitches to contact. We pride ourselves on making plays," Correia said. "These guys are going to come back and play good defense."
Bruce Chen (1-1) allowed four runs on eight hits and four walks for Kansas City, but the damage could have been a lot worse. The crafty left-hander twice walked the bases loaded, and his only clean inning was the first, when Brian Dozier hit a fly out that nearly left the park.
Chen struggled through five innings. His bullpen breezed through four.
Danny Duffy tossed two scoreless innings, and Wade Davis navigated a perfect eighth before turning the game over to All-Star closer Greg Holland. He set down the top of the Minnesota lineup in order for his sixth save in as many chances.
"They've been lights-out, and they're starting to get accustomed to the season," Yost said of his relief corps, which helped starter Jason Vargas polish off a shutout in the series opener.
The Royals, who have won five straight after getting swept last weekend in Minnesota, are 9-0 when scoring at least four runs. They're 0-7 scoring three or fewer.
"When we get that magic number," DH Billy Butler said, "we're hard to beat."
Left fielder Jason Kubel lost a fly ball in the glaring sun and it fell for a double in the second inning. Then in the fourth, Colabello misplayed a fly off the bat of Butler that ended up at the warning track and put runners on second and third.
"I took a chop step in and kind of froze. I didn't think he hit it that good," Colabello said. "Obviously there's nobody who feels worse about it than I do. Everything was being pushed toward center. When I froze I got turned around."
That was the start of the Royals' game-changing charge.
Mike Moustakas followed with a sacrifice fly and Justin Maxwell added an RBI single to tie the game. Alcides Escobar was plunked on the elbow, and Nori Aoki followed with a go-ahead single that Plouffe never even saw standing near third base.
Moments later, Escobar and Aoki took off on a double steal, and Pinto threw the ball into left field, allowing both runners to advance and making it 4-2. Omar Infante added a single to cap the five-run inning and give Kansas City a comfy cushion.
The Twins got two runs back on Suzuki's single in the fifth, but Chen managed to get Hicks to ground out with a pair of runners on board to preserve his one-run lead.
"Some good things happened. Unfortunately, we had one bad inning and it cost us a ballgame," Gardenhire said. "If we make the plays we're supposed to make we win."
NOTES: RHP Yordano Ventura pitches the series finale Sunday for Kansas City. RHP Phil Hughes is on the mound for Minnesota. ... Hicks collided with Colabello while making a catch at the wall in the fifth inning. Both players were OK. ... Twins 1B Joe Mauer, celebrating his 31st birthday, delivered a bunt single and scored in the fifth. ... Royals manager Ned Yost expects OF Jarrod Dyson (bereavement list) to return Monday.