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Kansas City Royals' Alcides Escobar grimaces after being hit by a pitch from Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Kevin Correia during the fourth inning of a baseball game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Saturday, April 19, 2014. Minnesota Twins catcher Josmil Pinto, right, watches the play. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Orlin Wagner, ASSOCIATED PRESS - AP

Aaron Hicks, left, hauled in a Mike Moustakas fly ball, but not before a warning-track run-in with Twins teammate with Chris Colabello.

ORLIN WAGNER • Associated Press,

One big inning for Kansas City is enough to beat Twins

  • Article by: La VELLE E. NEAL III
  • Star Tribune
  • April 19, 2014 - 11:08 PM

– Some outfielders have trouble coming in on balls. Others aren’t good going back on balls hit toward the wall.

“The toughest play for any outfielder is the ball that’s hit right at them,” Twins right fielder Chris Colabello said, “if you don’t read it right off the bat.”

On Saturday, Colabello was that guy. The ball came his way. He froze. He lost.

He watched Billy Butler’s fly ball in the fourth inning sail over his head. The ball landed behind him, and the Royals had runners on second and third. The Colabello play was the first of three plays in the inning that doomed the Twins in a 5-4 loss that had them grumbling all the way back to the team hotel.

“It was one inning,” Colabello said. “One inning that made the difference in the game.”

It was a swing game, a one-run game that can be the difference between making a statement that things will be getting better or affirmation that another 90-plus loss season is coming. Kansas City trailed 2-0 at Kauffman Stadium before scoring five runs in the fourth off Kevin Correia, aided by the failures of the normally reliable Twins defense. The Twins got a two-run single from Kurt Suzuki in the fifth but were then stiff-armed by a talented Royals bullpen.

Butler was credited with a double on Colabello’s miscue, putting runners on second and third with nobody out in the fourth. Mike Moustakas hit a sacrifice fly to center before Justin Maxwell singled up the middle, driving in Butler with the tying run. Correia got ahead of Alcides Escobar 0-2 but then hit him, putting two runners on.

Nori Aoki then punched the ball to third, well within Trevor Plouffe’s reach. But the ball scooted by with little reaction from Plouffe, and Maxwell scored.

“He never saw it,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “On sunny days, the ball will kind of blend in with the crowd. It’s a depth-perception kind of thing. I don’t think he had any idea where that ball was.”

After Omar Infante’s RBI single made it 4-2, things went from head-scratching to bizarre. The Royals attempted a double steal, and Josmil Pinto rose from his crouch behind the plate and threw wildly to third, the ball bouncing into the outfield. That allowed Kansas City’s fifth run of the inning to score.

Two days after walking eight times in one inning, the Twins were on the wrong end of another crazy inning.

The Royals have won five games in a row after getting swept at Target Field last weekend. They will try to return the favor Sunday.

Bruce Chen earned the victory despite giving up four runs on eight hits and four walks in five innings, with Dan Duffy pitching two innings, Wade Davis one and Greg Holland and his 98-mile-per-hour fastballs picking up the save. Duffy walked Pedro Florimon to open the sixth, but the three relievers then retired the final 12 batters in order, combining for six strikeouts.

“We had opportunities,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We had bases loaded [in the second] and only get one out of it with no out. … That’s a game we definitely feel we should have won. If we make the plays we’re supposed to make, we win that ballgame.”

And the Twins dressed and left Kaufmann Stadium frustrated that they let one get away.

“No one feels worse than I do,” Colabello said.

© 2014 Star Tribune