KANSAS CITY — After twirling his first quality start in two months, J.A. Happ expressed hope that things might be turning around for him. For the first month of the season, he had been the Twins’ most consistent starter, posting a 1.96 earned-run average in April. May and June were not so pretty.
But the veteran capped off June on a high note, and finished the month by talking about how had felt he was taking some steps in the right direction.
Friday, he took a step back.
The Twins’ starter didn’t last five innings, chased early by the Royals, who beat the Twins 7-4 on Friday night at Kauffman Stadium, and snapped their nine-game losing streak in the process. The Twins have now lost four straight games.
Staked to a three-run lead in the first inning, Happ could do little to protect it. All-star catcher Salvador Pérez took a pitch out of the zone over the right field wall in the second. Three more hits followed, producing another pair of runs to tie the game up quickly.
Happ was bitten by the longball again an inning later, serving up a two-run shot to Hanser Alberto that wound up putting the Royals up for good. His night ended in the fifth, after the Royals had scored six runs, five earned, and had strung together plenty of hard contact, hitting 10 balls harder than 100 mph off the bat.
The Twins’ offense, meanwhile, began the game with plenty of hard contact of its own off Royals starter Brady Singer. The first three batters of the game — Luis Arraez, Josh Donaldson and Trevor Larnach — collected hits and all came around to score.
But the Twins weren’t able to capitalize on some of their later opportunities, leaving the bases loaded in the third inning and only getting one run out of a bases-loaded, no-out situation in the sixth inning. That run scored on a rally-killing double play.