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Royals’ pitcher Jorge Lopez throws eight perfect innings in win vs. Twins at Target Field

September 9, 2018

Max Kepler spoiled the fun with a five-pitch walk.

And then Robbie Grossman backed him up with a single.

All this at the bottom of the ninth to take away first what was very nearly the 24th perfect game in MLB history and second what could have been a still rare no-hitter. But when Kansas City Royals pitcher Jorge Lopez left the mound at Target Field on Saturday after 110 pitches and 68 strikes, the 25,814 fans in attendance still gave him a standing ovation.

Despite being just three outs from the pinnacle for a pitcher, the 25-year-old Lopez still helped his team to a 4-1 victory. The Twins escaped being on the opposite side of a no-hitter for the sixth time in their history, most recently in 2012, and the embarrassment factor of having it happen for the first time at home. The Twins also remain being on the wrong end of a perfect game just twice, most recently since 1998.

A little bit of face saved in a pretty lackluster season.

The fellow Puerto Rican stole the storyline from Berrios, who hadnt won a game or even made it past five innings since Aug. 4, also at home against the Royals, whom he has beaten twice this year.

Berrios lasted six innings with three hits, one earned run, five strikeouts, two walks, and one hit batter on 95 pitches with 59 strikes. The second inning could have been Berrios early downfall, as he allowed a single and two walks to load the bases. But it was actually the sixth inning that was his downfall.

The Royals shortstop Adalberto Mondesi hit a single before stealing two bases and eventually coming home thanks to an RBI single from third baseman Hunter Dozier in the top of the sixth inning. Berrios then hit first baseman Ryan OHearn with a pitch and a mound visit soon followed. Tyler Duffey took over for Berrios starting in the seventh inning.

Youre always looking for answers when things go a little bit off track of what youre accustomed to, manager Paul Molitor said of Berrios slide. Some of its just the mental aspect of the game and how over a long season, at times youre going to feel a little frustrated that you cant do some things that you know youre capable of, and I think hes been battling that part of it as much as just going out there and trying to find a way to pitch a little bit better.

So I think just clearing his mind a little bit, trying to take some of the clutter out and trust that you have high-end stuff that plays, if you just go ahead out there and try to have some fun and pitch.

Duffey, though, didnt change the momentum. He allowed his first batter, outfielder Jorge Bonifacio, to hit a double before second baseman Whit Merrifields RBI single scored the Royals second run. Mondesi then hit an RBI double before Duffeys night came to a swift end. But even Andrew Vasquez coming into pitch couldnt end the inning, as outfielder Alex Gordons RBI single brought the score to 4-0.

The bottom of the ninth ruined Lopezs night, as he walked Kepler before allowing a single from Kepler. The Royals then put in Wily Peralta, who gave up an Ehire Adrianza sacrifice fly to score Kepler before closing out the game.

The Twins close out the three-game series at 1:10 p.m. Sunday at Target Field.

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