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Pineda on finale loss to Royals: 'Just one inning'

Twins right-hander yields big homer in pivotal 5-run 3rd inning
June 23, 2019

KANSAS CITY -- Four of Michael Pineda's five innings on Sunday afternoon went well. But it only takes that one tough inning to spoil the day and the Twins’ right-hander hit that speed bump in the third. Pineda gave up five runs on five hits in a nightmarish frame as

KANSAS CITY -- Four of Michael Pineda's five innings on Sunday afternoon went well. But it only takes that one tough inning to spoil the day and the Twins’ right-hander hit that speed bump in the third.

Pineda gave up five runs on five hits in a nightmarish frame as the Twins took a 6-1 loss to the Royals and split the four-game series at Kauffman Stadium. Pineda retired the first hitter in the third, but then the Royals used small ball and the long ball to put a big number on the scoreboard.

A perfectly executed hit-and-run single by Whit Merrifield set Kansas City up with a first-and-third situation and Nicky Lopez’s drag bunt to the right side was barely out of Pineda’s reach and went for an RBI single. Alex Gordon doubled home a run and Hunter Dozier capped the damage with a three-run homer that put the Royals up 5-0.

Box score

“Just one inning,” Pineda said. “That’s it. I got a couple of soft contact [hits]. I hung one pitch on my slider and got a homer. That’s why you want to execute your pitches for everybody. When you hang one pitch for somebody, it’s hard contact.”

The Twins, who have been battling a series of nagging injuries and are trying to refresh the bullpen after a 17-inning game last Tuesday, head home to enjoy an off-day on Monday before opening a big series with the Rays the following evening at Target Field.

“I think it’s good for us to be at home and not come to the ballfield,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Physically and mentally, I think our guys deserve it.”

The Twins did have some sporadic bright moments offensively, even though they couldn’t get the big hit on Sunday. They left 11 runners on base and were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.

American League All-Star finalist Eddie Rosario hit his first homer since June 9, giving him 20 for the season. Meanwhile, Luis Arraez got another start at second base in place of hobbling Jonathan Schoop and Arraez responded with a career-high four-hit game.

“I think he’s a natural-born hitter,” Baldelli said of Arraez. “I don’t think he’s getting lucky. The things he does will always play.”

Jorge Polanco extended his on-base streak to 36 games, which ties him with Chuck Knoblauch and Tony Oliva for fifth place on the all-time Twins list. But Minnesota simply couldn’t recover from the big number that Kansas City put up in the third.

“That’s going to happen,” Baldelli said. “Just one of those days for us.”

Buxton update

Outfielder Byron Buxton, who has been on the injured list with a wrist injury, took some swings in the cage on Sunday and the Twins will evaluate him before Tuesday’s series opener.

“We’re not going to make any calls as we sit here right now,” Baldelli said.

Added Buxton: “It’s not 100 percent, but it’s getting close.”