Tagged in: AL central

Royals bullpen clutch in holding off fast-fading Twins 5-2

MJ Melendez homered for the second consecutive day, the Royals bullpen pitched five innings of two-hit ball and Kansas City beat the fast-fading Minnesota Twins 5-2 on Wednesday night to put a positive finish on a difficult day.

The Royals clinched their first winning series in nearly a month just hours after owner John Sherman fired longtime front office executive Dayton Moore, who led the franchise to two American League pennants and a World Series title.

Daniel Lynch allowed two runs on four hits over four shaky innings before giving way to the Kansas City bullpen, which was solid for the second consecutive night. 

Anthony Misiewicz (1-1) and three other relievers got the ball to Scott Barlow, pitched around an error in the ninth for his second save in as many nights and 23rd on the year.

Bailey Ober (1-3) permitted three runs on seven hits and a walk over five innings for Minnesota, which was in an AL Central race two weeks ago but has lost six of seven to start an eight-game trip that’s dashed its playoff hopes.

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The Royals opened the game the same way they finished the previous night: with production at the top of the order.

Melendez, who hit a two-run homer in the series opener, homered leading off the game for the third time this season, driving a 3-1 pitch an estimated 437 feet to center field. And after Bobby Witt Jr. reached on a base hit, Salvador Perez blooped an RBI double to right that was sneakily reminiscent of his two-out, go-ahead double on Tuesday night.

Minnesota got one back in the second on Matt Wallner’s base hit, and when the Royals answered on Edward Oliveras’ two-out single in the third, the Twins again closed within a run thanks in part to a two-bag error by Vinnie Pasquantino.

That was it for the Twins, though, because the stars of the night came out of the Kansas City bullpen.Collin Snider worked around a two-on, no-out jam in the fifth. Misiewicz retired four of the five he faced in the sixth and seventh. 

Dylan Coleman handled the rest of the seventh and the first two outs of the eighth. And Amir Garrett finished that one off before Barlow wrapped up the Twins’ 13th loss in their last 16 games.

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Guardians score 6 runs in 8th, rally past Tigers 8-4

All-Star José Ramírez blooped a go-ahead, two-run double as the Cleveland Guardians scored six runs with two outs in the eighth inning, rallying for a 8-4 triumph over the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday night.

Rookies Steven Kwan and Oscar Gonzalez had RBI doubles, and Amed Rosario and Owen Miller added run-scoring singles in the eighth for the AL Central-leading Guardians. Cleveland trailed 4-1 in the sixth and 4-2 entering the eighth.

“It’s the belief we have in each other,” Kwan said. “Guys were just grinding at-bats out, and it’s the luck of baseball, as well.”

Andrew Chafin (0-3) struck out the first three batters in the inning, but tossed a wild pitch that permitted Luke Maile to reach and extend the frame. Cleveland then rattled off five straight hits and had seven consecutive men reach base.

“I went from, ‘Yeah, all right,’ to ‘Well, crap,’ pretty quickly,” Chafin said. “It’s not a nice game and it’s going to get you like that sometimes. That’s baseball for you.” Rosario greeted Alex Lange with a game-tying infield single that scored Myles Straw, and Ramírez followed with a soft fly that landed in front of left fielder Akil Baddoo. Kwan and Rosario scored to put the Guardians up 6-4.

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Cleveland remained one game ahead of Minnesota in the division. Bryan Shaw (6-2) retired one batter for the win.

The Guardians became the first major league team to strikeout three times before scoring six runs in any inning since at least 1961, according to Elias.

“How many times do you hear me say, ‘Keep playing, keep playing,’” Guardians manager Terry Francona said. “That was kind of the ultimate example. Sometimes, it’s hard for us to win, but it’s always better than losing.”

Willi Castro hit a solo homer and Victor Reyes and Eric Haase had RBI singles for Detroit, which has lost nine of its last 11 matches and fired general manager Al Avila last week. Rookie Kerry Carpenter had a sacrifice fly for his fourth RBI in the four-game series.

“It happened fast against a contact team, but obviously we should have been out of that inning,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said.

Castro’s homer in the sixth extended Detroit’s lead to 4-1. All-Star Andrés Giménez scored on a passed ball in the bottom half to pull Cleveland within two.

Gonzalez had two hits and two RBI, and Kwan and Andrés Giménez had two hits apiece.

Left-hander Daniel Norris, who was released by the Cubs on July 22, gave up four hits, walked two, hit three batters and struck out five in his second outing since rejoining the Tigers.

Detroit went in front 2-1 in the fourth, plating two runs to end Cal Quantrill’s 18-inning scoreless streak. Carpenter drove in the first for his fourth RBI in the four-game series and Haase singled home Javier Báez.

Quantrill permitted four runs in six innings, but remained 11-0 in 28 career games in the ballpark.

The Guardians won 10 of 19 games versus Detroit this season, evening their all-time series at 1,144-1,144.

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Carlos Santana, Kansas City Royals reach 2-year deal

The Kansas City Royals and veteran first baseman Carlos Santana have agreed to a two-year contract that plugs one of the team’s biggest offensive holes while providing some clubhouse leadership for a rebuilding club.

The deal is for $17 million, sources told ESPN’s Jeff Passan, confirming an MLB Network report.

The 34-year-old Santana was an All-Star two years ago in Cleveland, when he hit a career-best .281 with 34 homers and 93 RBIs. But he slid to .199 with eight homers and 30 RBIs while playing 60 games during the shortened 2020 season, resulting in the Indians declining his $17.5 million option for the upcoming season.

The Royals were in the middle with a .244 team average last season, but they hit just 68 home runs and were tied with — coincidentally — the Indians for the sixth-worst scoring offense in the majors.

“One of our objectives this offseason was to add a middle-of-the-order bat, someone that would blend in well with our current group, make us a lot better,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore stated.

“Carlos certainly does that.” Santana should fill both an offensive need and defensive hole for the Royals. They had been toying with the option of moving Hunter Dozier to first base, but that would merely create another vacancy at third base and in the outfield, where they already have one to plug following the retirement of left fielder Alex Gordon.

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“He was one of the primary targets for us when we began to make offseason plans,” Moore said. “You know, once we began our season, we started talking mid-to-late July [about] players that would potentially fit for us. Carlos’ name was at the forefront of that based on the opportunity that we perceived that would perhaps present itself for us — middle of the order, switch hitter, highly professional. Winning-type player.”

The Royals are very familiar with Santana from his time in the AL Central. He hit 216 homers with 710 RBIs during 10 campaigns with the Indians, and he’s been durable in playing at least 143 games every season but his rookie year and this past season, when he still suited up for every game for Cleveland.

Another bonus? The Royals won’t have him in the other dugout anymore. Santana has hit .288 with 31 homers and 93 RBIs in 151 career games against them, the best of any team in the division.

The Royals also had the inside track on negotiations because Rene Francisco, their vice president and assistant GM, signed Santana as an amateur free agent when he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers in August 2014.

“That made the start-up of the conversation go extremely well,” Moore said.

For years one of the quietest teams in free agency, the Royals have been on an early spending spree under new owner John Sherman.

Relief pitcher Mike Minor signed an $18 million, two-year deal and outfielder Michael Taylor a $1.75 million deal for next campaign, and nearly all their arbitration-eligible players are under contract.

That incorporates an $8.05 million contract for slugger Jorge Soler and a $3.35 million deal for staff ace Brad Keller.

“I’ve said many times, ‘free agency is a flawed way to build your team,'” Moore said. “That’s why this offseason we’ve tried to do it from the top down.

We’ve tried to add some guys that had a little more impact. Two-year deals, we have a little more flexibility in 2022 than we have in 2021, just because of the economics of the game, but financially we’re in a position to add a little more money, a little more flexibility in the payroll.”

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