If you’re looking for a silver lining through the first two Royals games of the season, there’s this: The pitching has been terrific.
The Twins managed just two runs Saturday against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium. But just like Thursday’s season-opener, that was enough for Minnesota, which again won 2-0.
The 18-inning scoreless streak to start the season is the longest in Royals history, eclipsing the 2012 team, which went 11 innings before scoring a run. The Royals are the only team in Major League Baseball that has yet to score a run this season.
Despite the struggles, manager Matt Quatraro is not ready to press the panic button.
“They’re throwing some good arms at us. And from what I can tell today, (Twins starter) Sonny Gray, you saw how many balls bounced,” Quatraro said. “He kept the ball down, he was working the corners.
“I thought we swung the bats pretty well today overall. There were some pretty well-hit balls that they ran down or were right at guys. So it wasn’t as bad as the line probably looks and I thought you’ve got to tip the tip your hat to the pitchers.”
Four of the five hardest-hit balls were by Royals: Bobby Witt Jr. (108.2 mph), Salvador Perez (107 mph) and Kyle Isbel (106.5 mph and 106 mph).
Nevertheless, The Royals wasted a terrific start by Jordan Lyles, who allowed two runs (one earned) in 5 1/3 innings. He walked two and struck out two.
The Royals had four hits and drew five walks, but they were 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position. They now have six hits through two games and are 0 for 14 with runners in scoring position.
“We got some opportunities today, and it’s part of the game,” catcher Salvador Perez said. “We’re trying to do our job.”
Missed the previous game of the series?
First pitch clock violation in Royals history
The Royals went walk-out-walk-out-walk and loaded the bases with two outs in the third inning. Franmil Reyes stepped to the plate and learned there was an 0-1 count. Home plate umpire Brian Knight ruled Reyes was guilty of a pitch clock violation.
That was the first in Royals history, and Quatraro inquired with Knight as to why the automatic strike was called.
“He said (Reyes) was not alert to the pitcher at eight seconds,” Quatraro said. “That’s an automatic strike if the hitter is not alert to the pitcher.”
Reyes’ plate-appearance ended with an inning-ending strikeout.
In the ninth inning, relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman was called for a pitch-clock violation that resulted in a ball.
The Royals defense gave a run away in the sixth inning.
Designed hitter Byron Buxton singled and took second on a passed ball by Salvador Perez. With one out, Jose Miranda grounded to Royals shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., who made a late throw to third base in an attempt to get the speedy Buxton.
Ryan Yarbrough replaced starter Lyles and got Kyle Farmer to hit a can of corn to short center field. Buxton took off after the catch and scored easily despite the ball being hit just 242 feet.
That gave the Twins a 2-0 lead.
What’s next: The Royals will face the Twins on Sunday to end the series. Brad Keller will make the start for the Royals. Minnesota will counter with Joe Ryan. First pitch is at 1:10 p.m.