Jake Odorizzi’s first start of the season was laborious. It took nearly 30 pitches for him to get through his first inning and 71 for him to get through three.
What came next for the Minnesota Twins was less laborious. It was quick — and painful. After Odorizzi was removed, the Twins’ bullpen gave up six runs in the fourth inning before recording an out, sealing their fate in the Twins’ 9-6 loss to the Royals on Saturday night at Kauffman Stadium.
A Maikel Franco single, Nicky Lopez two-run home run and Brett Phillips bunt single were the entirety of Lewis Thorpe’s outing on Saturday night as the lefty stumbled in his appearance coming in after Odorizzi. The Lopez home run had tied the game at 4-4 at the time, but that tie was short-lived.
Cody Stashak, who followed Thorpe into the game, allowed a single and then back-to-back home runs to Jorge Soler and Salvador Perez — Soler’s a three-run shot and his second of the night — to cap off the six-run inning.
That inning, which came right after the Twins (10-5) had scored four runs in the top of the frame, provided a huge momentum swing in the loss, which was the Twins’ third straight.
“Whenever any team puts runs on the board, everyone looks at each other and you look for that shutdown-type situation the next inning. It can kind of catapult you in some of these games,” Baldelli said. “…To put up those runs, it was a pretty big moment for us, but then it was a big moment in the next half-inning when they put up those runs, and I’m sure they were feeling good after that.”
Though Odorizzi labored through his three innings — he had started the season on the injured list with an intercostal strain — the game was still within reach. Odorizzi gave up two runs — one in the first and a solo home run to Soler in the third — in his outing.
“(I) was just a little rusty, which I kind of expected to be a little bit,” Odorizzi said. “Physically I felt perfectly fine. I think that’s the main thing I’m taking away from today is I had no issues whatsoever with any pain, any residual pain, any tightness. Physically I came through it perfectly fine which is an important thing.”
Odorizzi said he had some trouble gripping his splitter because of the heat in Kansas City, and that put him behind some hitters, but for his first time back on the mound in a game in about 10 months, he found positives in limiting the damage and getting his work in.
“Obviously, I would have liked today to go better. I got my fair share of work done today of pitching out of jams, having no 1-2-3 innings. The last inning I gave up a home run. It is what it is. That was one of the pitches I was kind of happy about,” Odorizzi said. “I thought it was an executed pitch and it was a good swing. Going to the well one too many times. In a short time span today I got a lot of experiences that usually take a full-on outing.”
After his three innings, Nelson Cruz and Byron Buxton had ensured that when Odorizzi turned the game over to the bullpen, the Twins were on top. Cruz tagged Royals (6-10) starter Danny Duffey with a solo home run to lead off the fourth and later in the inning, Byron Buxton hit a home run for his third straight game. This one, a three-run blast, put the Twins on top 4-2 at the time.
Though the Twins scored six runs in the game, just one — which came on a Buxton RBI single in the sixth — didn’t come via the longball, as most of their runs have in recent days. Max Kepler also homered in the loss.