MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — With 31 games to go, the Minnesota Twins have already set a team record for strikeouts in a season.
Yes, the whole year for this team has been one big swing and a miss.
Salvador Perez homered twice for Kansas City, had four hits and sent a message to Twins starter Andrew Albers after a high-and-inside fastball, leading the Royals to an 8-1 victory on Wednesday night.
Danny Duffy (2-0) pitched 6 2-3 shutout innings hours after being promoted from Triple-A, and the Twins lost their fourth in a row.
Minnesota struck out 10 times to bring its season total to 1,127 times, topping the previous mark of 1,121 in 1997.
“There are guys that swing for home runs, but no, I didn’t think that we would have a whole group like this,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “It’s kind of hard to imagine this many strikeouts. Trying too hard. Whatever you want to call it. I don’t know. But we have a lot of strikeouts. Way too many.”
Chris Colabello whiffed on a changeup from Duffy in the fifth inning to set the record.
“We definitely care about it, because it’s not fun. It’s not fun watching guys strike out. But you know what? They’re going up there. They’re working hard. They’re doing everything they possibly can. It’s not like they’re trying to strike out,” Gardenhire said.
Perez hit a two-run homer in the fourth, a 415-foot drive into the upper deck in left field off Albers (2-2) that made it 3-0.
When Perez came up again in the sixth, Albers threw an up-and-in pitch that sent Perez tumbling to the ground.
The 23-year-old catcher, who missed a week with a concussion earlier this month, took his helmet off and pointed at his side, telling Albers to aim lower if he’s going to throw inside. Albers held both of his arms out and had a few words of his own for Perez.
Home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt warned both benches. Perez then struck back by lining a single that whizzed over Albers’ head.
Albers said he meant no harm with the pitch that sent Perez diving.
“I’m not trying to go after his head. I’m not trying to hit him in that situation,” Albers said. “I am trying to go inside, and sometimes it gets away. Again, if I could throw 99 pitches exactly where I wanted to, I’m probably going to have a good night. But unfortunately that one did get away, and it didn’t look very good.
“That’s part of baseball. He dives in a little bit, and I don’t even think it was all that far inside,” he said.
Perez hit another two-run homer in the eighth, connecting off reliever Casey Fien.
In 15 games against the Twins this season, Perez is hitting .410 with four doubles, three homers and nine RBIs.
“He’s a guy you’ve got to get in on, and unfortunately I just wasn’t able to execute inside on him today, and when you don’t he obviously has enough power to make it hurt,” Albers said.
Duffy was called up from the minors and replaced the struggling Wade Davis in the rotation. Duffy allowed five hits and struck out seven in his third start with the Royals since having elbow surgery last June.
Justin Morneau hit his 16th home run in the ninth to prevent the Twins from being shut out.
Alex Gordon hit a solo homer as the Royals beat Minnesota for the eighth time in their last nine games.
NOTES: The Twins have scored a total of five runs during their four-game slide. … Twins star C Joe Mauer, on the disabled list while recovering from a concussion, made progress on Wednesday, according to GM Terry Ryan. Mauer was at the ballpark, doing some stretching and other light exercises. “He is doing better,” Ryan said. But Mauer won’t travel to Texas for the weekend series. … Bruce Chen (5-2, 2.88 ERA) starts Thursday’s series final. The lefty has pitched seven scoreless innings of relief against Minnesota this season. … Samuel Deduno (8-7, 3.69 ERA) starts for Minnesota. Deduno is 3-1 with a 2.16 ERA in four career starts against the Royals.
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