The 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position? You've long since gotten used to that. Kevin Correia pitching well? That's not unusual, either; he owns a 1.93 ERA in his last four starts.
But the sloppiness that unfolded, practically in slow motion, during the Royals' five-run rally in the eighth inning of Tuesday 6-1 loss, now that was a little unusual. "Stuff just started going their way," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Those stolen bases, bloops, and there you have it: A five-spot."
Jared Burton took over for Correia in a scoreless game, and after striking out Billy Butler, gave up three consecutive singles, the last a looper by Chris Getz that landed in front of Chris Herrmann, to give up the lead. What happened just before that hit bothered Gardenhire, however.
With runners on first and third, the Twins suspected Getz might try a squeeze bunt, so they called a pitchout. There was no squeeze, but the Royals did indeed have a play on -- David Lough took off on a steal of second base. But when catcher Ryan Doumit wound up to throw, he realized there was no infielder there to catch it.
"We've got to have somebody covering the bag. Our infielders said they couldn't see the signs," Gardenhire said. "We've got green fingernail polish on our catcher's fingers -- I guess we have to go to a different color."
After Getz's hit scored the game's first run, he too proceeded to steal second, and Burton walked Alcides Escobar. Gardenhire lifted Burton in favor of Caleb Thielbar, and that's when the Royals did try a squeeze. Lough waited until he saw Jarrod Dyson successfully get the bunt down, and broke for home, sliding around Doumit's leaping effort to tag him.
That set up the game's biggest hit, Alex Gordon's double to the right-field corner, a three-run hit that was nearly a triple; Gordon was thrown out on a nice relay throw by Brian Dozier.
The Twins tried to rally back in the bottom of the inning, but another mistake doomed that effort. After Trevor Plouffe and Clete Thomas each singled, a James Shields pitch bounced in front of catcher Salvador Perez. Both runners tried to advance, but Perez pounced on the rebound and threw Thomas out at second base.
"Clete got caught on the backside of that. Their catcher made a nice play," Gardenhire said. "It's kind of a cardinal sin -- you can't make silly outs on the basepaths. He was hustling, but you've got to make sure" you will be safe.
Naturally, Pedro Florimon walked and Dozier doubled, and it looked like the Twins might generate a comeback. But Herrmann and Justin Morneau struck out to end the inning.
One bad inning. These days, it seems like that's all it takes.