Twins falter in fifth inning, lose lead, game and series to Royals

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An out-of-hand fifth inning doomed the Twins to a series loss to the Kansas City Royals on Sunday.

A 2-1 lead evaporated to a four-run deficit before the Twins eventually lost 6-3 in front of an announced crowd of 17,923 at Target Field.

Starter Matt Shoemaker had retired 11 consecutive batters starting at the end of the first inning and through the fourth. But he lost control in the fifth, allowing four hits, two runs and a walk plus making a throwing error in a pickoff attempt at first base before Caleb Thielbar entered the game in relief.

Thielbar allowed two of the three bases-loaded inherited runners to score.

Shoemaker also looked a bit shaky to start, giving up a leadoff double and an RBI single to Andrew Benintendi in the first inning to give the Royals a short-lived lead. The Twins tied it at the bottom of that inning, mostly from Kansas City starter Brad Keller loading the bases from two walks and a ground ball single. He then walked in a run with Trevor Larnach at the plate.

The Twins took their first and only lead in the second inning. Ben Rortvedt, just returned from Class AAA to start at catcher, hit his first career home run off his first pitch of the game, dropping one into the bullpen.

The team added one more consolation run in the bottom of the fifth, with Josh Donaldson's leadoff double, Alex Kirilloff's base hit and Nelson Cruz' walk loading the bases before Donaldson scored while Miguel Sano grounded into a double play.

That inning was actually the Twins last hit as well. But Kansas City took one more run home off Hunter Dozier's deep left-field homer in the ninth inning. That came off Juan Minaya making his Twins debut.

The Twins ended their homestand 4-2 and are 21-31 overall. Kansas City improved to 25-26 also in the American League Central.