It was Royals reliever Wade Davis who was left with the iciest feeling when he threw away what appeared to be an inning-ending double play in the eighth. Instead, the Twins scored the two runs that gave them the game.
"That's extremely frustrating," Davis said. "We had the win right there staring us in the face and it just didn't happen."
Aaron Crow opened the eighth to protect the Royals' 3-2 lead, but he walked the first two batters and Davis was summoned. He struck out Joe Mauer on a 3-2 pitch, but he walked Trevor Plouffe to load the bases. That brought up Chris Herrmann, who had just entered as a defensive replacement.
Hermann tapped back to Davis, who hesitated for a moment, then threw poorly past catcher Salvador Perez.
"I didn't rush it," Davis said. "I think I got to it and fielded it cleanly and went to grab it, and just didn't get a grip, palmed it and made a bad throw. And made a mistake by not getting to home plate and being there for that other run. I got frustrated and made a mental mistake by not getting there. It's unacceptable."
Florimon scored the tying run, but Dozier saw that Davis wasn't covering the plate and kept coming for the eventual winning run.
"I knew he had to field it to his right, come across the body, and he didn't really set his feet," Dozier said. "You've got to be aggressive; you can't lose that. I saw Davis just hanging out 10 yards away, so I took a shot."
There wasn't much doubt that, if had Davis made a good throw to Perez, the Royals would have had the home-to-first double.
"Yeah, absolutely," Davis said. "Made the pitch, the play was right there in front of me and I just didn't make it."
"The guy who hit it runs pretty good so maybe we've got just one out," Perez said. "But I would've thrown."
Even so, manager Ned Yost would've settled for the second out there.
"We had a chance to get the double play, but even if we'd had just got one there, I felt like we still would've been in real good shape," Yost said.
Yost was asked why he brought Crow into the game when Davis previously had been his usual eighth-inning setup man.
"Two reasons," Yost said. "One, Crow was up and warmed up in the seventh … I wanted to bring Crow in when he was hot. Two, I'm trying to find somebody to tandem the eighth inning [with Davis] and Aaron is one of those candidates that I think could handle the eighth inning, and this would be a good opportunity to come in, and I liked the matchups. And I knew I had Wade to back up in case something happened."
The game was scoreless until Minnesota's Josmil Pinto sent a two-run homer through the frigid air in the seventh inning.
Royals left-hander Jason Vargas had a shutout duel going with Twins right-hander Kevin Correia into the bottom of the seventh. Then, Jason Kubel drew a two-out walk. The count went to 3-1 on Pinto, who sent a drive soaring into the left-field seats, sending a shiver of joy through the crowd of 20,878 fans.
"He really had to go out there and hook that ball. I was more surprised when he hit it than anything," Vargas said. "It was a fastball up and away."
Correia didn't get out of the eighth inning, which he began by walking Mike Moustakas. Lorenzo Cain singled to right and Alcides Escobar's bunt was perfectly placed down the third-base line. Plouffe raced in, grabbed the ball and flung it past first base for an error, letting Moustakas score and Cain reach third. Escobar was credited with a hit.
Left-hander Brian Duensing relieved Correia and Nori Aoki promptly dropped a bunt, scoring Cain on the sacrifice for a 2-2 tie. Eric Hosmer drilled a double to center field to score Escobar and break the tie.
"We put together a good little inning right there, but we've still got to come out swinging a little better than that," Hosmer said.
Hosmer placed no blame on the frosty conditions.
"Today was a little more chilly. It's not ideal but, honestly, it's not really that bad," Hosmer said. "It's a guy [Correia] we've seen a lot of times. He threw a great game today, you can't take that away from him. But, still, from the offensive end, we're a long way from where we need to be right now. … We've just got to figure out ways to produce runs."
It didn't happen in this series as the Royals were outscored in their three losses, 21-5.
As if the wild throw on the potential double play wasn't enough, the Royals' ninth inning against closer Glen Perkins ended with an unsual call. Moustakas popped up over home plate and catcher Kurt Suzuki bumped into him as he searched for it. Neither Suzuki nor Plouffe could make the catch and Moustakas was called out for interfering with the catcher.
"Moustakas was kind of just wondering, watching the ball," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Suzuki came out and was looking for it himself, and when he took off running he ran into him. That's always on the hitter."
So it was game over. And series resoundingly over for the Royals.
"That's baseball, stuff like that happens," Hosmer said. "Every time we come here to Minnesota, we know it's a tough game with these guys, but we shouldn't be getting swept like this. We've just got to put a stop to it. Better early than late."