MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins have had trouble finding a consistent fifth starter in the absence of veteran Ervin Santana this season, as rookie Aaron Slegers couldn't build on his previous strong start in a rough outing against the Royals on Tuesday night at Target Field.Slegers allowed five runs while recording
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins have had trouble finding a consistent fifth starter in the absence of veteran Ervin Santana this season, as rookie Aaron Slegers couldn't build on his previous strong start in a rough outing against the Royals on Tuesday night at Target Field.
Slegers allowed five runs while recording just four outs in a 9-4 loss that snapped Minnesota's five-game win streak and put an end to Kansas City's 10-game losing skid. It was also the first time the Royals scored more than five runs in a game since June 4, a span of 30 games. Slegers wasn't immediately optioned after the game, but Sunday's starter before the All-Star break is to be determined, according to manager Paul Molitor.
"They're an aggressive team," Slegers said. "I knew that going in. Some of my pitches caught a little too much of the plate, and even others that didn't, they found a way to get the bat on the ball and found holes."
Slegers, making his second start and third appearance of the year with former fifth starters Fernando Romero and Adalberto Mejia at Triple-A Rochester, ran into trouble early, giving up a double to open the game before allowing a hard-hit RBI single off the left-field wall to Salvador Perez. It fell apart in the second, when he served up a three-run homer to Raul Mondesi and an RBI single to Rosell Herrera.
"It was up," Slegers said of the homer. "Hats off to him, he got there. But we were trying to go fastball up there. I threw him back-to-back sliders then was tempted to elevate there. I don't think it was a strike."
It put the Twins in an early 5-1 hole, as James Dozier got the Twins on the board in the first with a solo shot off Ian Kennedy. Eduardo Escobar added an RBI single in the third on the 10th pitch he saw from Kennedy, but that was all they could muster against the right-hander, who departed after three innings with left-side tightness.
Kansas City's bullpen combined to hold the Twins scoreless until the ninth inning with Brian Flynn throwing four scoreless innings, while the Royals tacked on a run in the sixth on an RBI single from Mondesi off Matt Magill and three more in the eighth with Hunter Dozier connecting on an RBI triple and Alex Gordon smacking a two-run homer off Addison Reed.
"Flynn shut us down for four innings," Molitor said. "That hurt. You're hoping to go through multiple guys and inch away. Just didn't happen. We just couldn't get a hit to get us over the hump even though we had some traffic out there, and then they kind of ran away at the end."
The Twins went 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position, wasting a prime scoring opportunity with two on and none out in the fifth with Dozier grounding into a double play and Escobar grounding out to end the inning. Minnesota didn't score again until an RBI triple from Max Kepler in the ninth.
"Doz had a good swing, but right at [third baseman Mike Moustakas]," Molitor said. "That kind of stymied us there. You think once you get into the bullpen and you're within three, you think you're going to find a way to put up some kind of a number along the way to make it a game. But we were never in it."
The Twins have yet to win six games in a row this year, as their five-game win streak matched a season high. They also saw their season-high six-game win streak at Target Field come to an end.
HE SAID IT
"We're talking about a lot of different things, especially around the break and rotation. A lot of questions. To be determined. There are some things up in the air that we haven't finalized yet. Hopefully tomorrow morning, we can clear it up." -- Molitor, on if Slegers will get another start
Twins right-hander Lance Lynn (6-7, 5.21 ERA) is set to start the series finale against the Royals at 12:10 p.m. CT on Wednesday at Target Field. Lynn is coming off a strong start against the Orioles, allowing one run on six hits over six innings. He has a 4.02 ERA over his past 12 starts. Righty Burch Smith (0-0, 5.40 ERA) will make his first start for the Royals.
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.