Minneapolis Bruce Chen and the Kansas City Royals were in control early on against the Minnesota Twins on Sunday.
But the Royals quickly found out just how quickly things can change in their 10-8 loss at Minnesota.
When Chen (7-7) took the mound for the bottom of the sixth, the Royals led 5-1, and there were no signs of trouble.
By the time Kansas City got out of the inning, Minnesota got homers from Trevor Plouffe and Josh Willingham, scored five runs and took the lead for good.
“It’s just one of those days,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “When we score the runs, the four-run inning to take the lead, I was thinking, ‘We’re in great shape now, Bruce is rolling and we’ve got a pretty stocked (bullpen).’ It sure didn’t turn out that way.
“The homers killed us, the homers buried us.”
Chen, who had won seven of his past nine decisions, allowed only one run (a solo homer from Plouffe) and two hits through the first five innings as the Royals jumped to a 5-1 lead.
Even after giving up a leadoff triple to Brian Dozier and a sacrifice bunt that scored the run, Chen didn’t seem to be in trouble.
But then he walked Jamey Carroll and gave up a single to Joe Mauer. Instead of being able to get a double play to get out of the inning, Chen hung a changeup to Willingham, who pounded the ball out of the park. Two batters later, Plouffe hit his second homer of the game and the Twins led 6-5.
“I feel bad,” Chen said. “We had a good lead and I felt I let the game get away from me. I felt I had all of my pitches going and shouldn’t have given up six runs. Especially since we were ahead 5-1.”
Minnesota stretched its lead in the bottom of the eighth when Drew Butera hit a 3-run homer. Those runs were important as the Royals scored three times in the top of the ninth to get within two runs.
“The difference was that we left 11 on base and they left two,” Yost said. “They cleaned them up. We had an opportunity to get big hits.”
Before the game, first baseman Billy Butler learned of his invitation to next week’s All-Star Game at Kaufmann Stadium. Reliever Jonathan Broxton is one of the final five candidates to be voted into the game by fans.
“It’s a good feeling, it’s just tough when you have a game like that, it puts a damper on things,” said Butler, who is hitting .297 with 16 homers and 48 RBIs. “It’s an honor to do it, especially when we’re hosting it so I get to do it in front of my hometown fans.”
Despite his strong first half, Butler didn’t know if he would be the Royals’ representative in the game.
“I felt there were quite a few deserving guys in here,” Butler said. “It’s an honor and I’m very humbled to be a part of it. I’ve put a lot of years of hard work into this game and I’ve been striving to make one for a long time.”
Yost called Butler very deserving and urged Royals fans to vote for Broxton before voting ends Thursday.
“This would be fantastic if we could get two of our guys on the All-Star team,” Yost said. “It’s up to our fans.”
Notes: Royals 2B Irving Falu did more than just snap an 0-for-17 stretch as he finished with three hits and four RBIs. ... Kansas City continues its 11-game, 10-day road trip today in Toronto with Everett Teaford (0-1, 5.06) scheduled to face Ricky Romero (8-2, 4.94). ... With a 3-for-4 performance, Royals 1B Eric Hosmer has hit safely in seven consecutive games, batting .423 in that span. ... Minnesota sends Liam Hendriks (0-5, 6.82) to the mound today in the first game of a four-game series in Detroit. He’ll face Doug Fister (1-5, 3.91). ... The game was the Ninth Annual Armed Forces Appreciation Day, as the Twins organization honored veterans and active service members.