Young flirts with no-no as Royals blank Twins
MINNEAPOLIS -- Royals right-hander Chris Young flirted with a no-hitter, going 6 1/3 innings before Trevor Plouffe tripled off the right-field wall, and the Royals' bullpen preserved a 2-0 win over the Twins on Tuesday night.
Young was in total command, needing just 83 pitches to set down the Twins. He walked three and struck out two to help Kansas City take a one-game lead over Minnesota in the AL Central standings.
"He had a disappearing slider," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He mixed in some great changeups. There was a lot of easy outs. He just threw great."
Young threw five no-hit innings in his first start of the season against Detroit on May 1. That combined no-hit attempt ended when reliever Kelvin Herrera gave up a hit in the eighth.
Asked how long he was prepared to go with Young in the game, Yost said, "It just depends. Until he had given up a hit."
Even if Young had carried the no-hitter into the ninth?
"Oh yeah," Yost said. "Yes."
The Royals scored in the first inning on Mike Moustakas' RBI single. Salvador Perez belted his ninth homer in the ninth.
Twins starter Trevor May went six innings, giving up seven hits and one run while striking out five.
"That's a good result. It was just that it was tough for him," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "He had to use that changeup -- I don't know how many he threw tonight, but he threw a ton -- just because that was his best offspeed pitch. Fastball command, not great. Curveball command, not great. Not like we saw the last outing, but he kept competing."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Moose's RBI: While the Royals squandered numerous chances the rest of the night, they did strike quickly. Alcides Escobar doubled to lead off the game down the left-field corner. Moustakas then dropped a single into left-center field to put the Royals up 1-0.
Plouffe breaks up no-no: After 6 1/3 innings of no-hit ball, Plouffe tripled high off the wall in right field, missing a homer by inches, to end Young's night. Plouffe was stranded at third, though, as left fielder Eddie Rosario and catcher Kurt Suzuki grounded out off relievers Franklin Morales and Herrera to end the inning.
Of Plouffe's hit, Young said, "It was elevated a little. He's a great hitter. He shortened his swing. I got behind in the count. I challenged him and I was lucky he didn't hit it out."
Defense comes through:The Royals benefited from some terrific defense. Alex Gordon robbed Torii Hunter of extra bases with a catch against the wall in the fourth. And with the tying run on third and two out in the seventh, Escobar, at short, went deep in the hole and threw to first baseman Eric Hosmer, who made a tremendous "ol'e" scoop to rob Suzuki and end the threat.
"That's how great Esky is that he can make those plays," Yost said.
Hicks nails Morales at home: The Royals had a chance to tack on an insurance run in the sixth inning with two on and none out when Alex Rios seemingly hit a sacrifice fly to center field. But Aaron Hicks threw a laser to Suzuki, beating Kendrys Morales to the plate and stunting what could have been a big inning for Kansas City.
"That was 100 percent pick-up mode by Hicks by there," May said. "I don't think I've been that excited in a long time."
Shortstop Jorge Polanco will join the Twins as left fielder Rosario goes on paternity leave. Molitor said it will only be for Wednesday's series finale as Minnesota has an off-day on Thursday. Polanco, who had a brief stint with the club last season, hit .312 with 26 RBIs in 52 games at Double-A Chattanooga this season.
Royals: Edinson Volquez will start the series finale on Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. CT. The right-hander is 1-1 over three starts with a 2.18 ERA against the Twins in his career. Volquez lost his last start, 4-0, to the Rangers, when he gave up four runs and six hits over 5 1/3 innings.
Twins: Right-hander Kyle Gibson gets the ball for the finale on Wednesday at Target Field. Gibson gave up five runs in seven innings in his last start -- a loss -- but he has been solid this season with a 3.00 ERA over 11 starts.
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