Minneapolis — Vin Mazzaro entered the game against Minnesota on Tuesday night in the toughest of situations — bases loaded, nobody out with the Kansas City Royals down 3-2.
Manager Ned Yost was hoping Mazzaro, who has been used more as a starter than a reliever this season, would be able to use his slider to wiggle out of the jam. But Mazzaro gave Rene Tosoni a fastball on his first pitch and paid for it.
Tosoni hit a grand slam, and Chris Parmelee also went deep to lift the Twins to a 7-4 victory over the Royals.
“That’s the first time I’ve come in in a situation like that,” said Mazzaro, who turned 25 on Tuesday. “Yeah, it’s different, but you just got to go in there, keep the same mentality as a starter and go in there and attack the zone. Unfortunately, he jumped the first pitch and got good wood on it.”
Mazzaro settled down after that, allowing one run on two hits in the final three innings. But the damage was already done.
“We were willing to concede one there and hopefully get a double play,” Yost said. “They set up down and away and the ball came back middle in. he put a good swing on it. Besides that Vinny threw the ball really, really well.”
The setback slightly stunted some nice momentum the Royals had been building as the season comes to a close. They had won 11 of their previous 14 games, getting promising performances from a bevy of highly touted youngsters including Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer and Alcides Escobar.
Sean O’Sullivan (2-6) gave up six runs on nine hits with one strikeout in five innings for the Royals. Johnny Giavotella had two doubles and a triple and Salvador Perez added two hits and an RBI for Kansas City.
Anthony Swarzak (4-7) gave up two runs on 10 hits with six strikeouts in 61⁄3 innings for the Twins (62-99), who are hoping to avoid becoming just the second team in franchise history to lose 100 games in a season.
“We want to win tomorrow and stay away from that stuff,” manager Ron Gardenhire said.
O’Sullivan pitched well in the first five innings before giving up three straight singles to start the sixth. Tosoni hit Mazzaro’s first pitch well into the right field seats for a 7-2 lead.
“It felt pretty good off the bat,” Tosoni said with a chuckle.
The Royals scored twice in the ninth off Twins closer Joe Nathan — on a sacrifice fly from Jarrod Dyson and a single from Billy Butler — before Hosmer struck out to end the game.
“We were a hit or two away,” Yost said. “We hit some balls hard, but just couldn’t put runs on the board.”
Parmelee had two hits to raise his average to .351, continuing his impressive showing since being called up from Double-A New Britain. His 427-foot homer to right-center field tied the game 1-1 in the second inning.
Trevor Plouffe had three hits while Ben Revere and Denard Span had RBI-triples for the Twins. Revere tried to turn his into an inside-the-park home run in the fifth. The ball squirted by a diving Dyson in center field, but the Royals recovered and Escobar threw Revere out at home.
“I was just trying to work ahead and try to pitch to contact and let them put it in play because our defense was awesome,” O’Sullivan said.
Moustakas had two hits in the game and Lorenzo Cain’s RBI single in the second gave them an early 1-0 lead.