05/29/08 1:56 AM ET
Greinke's solid start spoiled by Twins
Bullpen meltdown allows Minnesota to rally for win
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
The Royals blew a five-run lead in the ninth inning and lost, 9-8, in 10 innings to the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday night as 13,621 stunned fans watched at Kauffman Stadium.
Reliever Joel Peralta gave up a three-run homer to pinch-hitter Craig Monroe that tied the score in the ninth and then surrendered a game-winning homer to Justin Morneau on his first pitch of the 10th.
It was one of the most devastating losses in recent memory and, afterward, left fielder Jose Guillen defended manager Trey Hillman and chastised the players, including himself.
"This is all on us," Guillen said. "This is not about what kind of moves the manager made. He cares about us and he wants to win more than anyone. He's preparing every single day to win and works hard every day. And we've been letting him down.
"We've got 25 people. We've got to play as a team, win as a team and lose as a team. We've got too many babies here. They don't know how to play the game and play the game right, the way it's supposed to be played."
Certainly this game was not played the way it should have been, not after starter Zack Greinke pitched well for eight innings and the Royals took an 8-3 lead into the ninth.
That cushy lead was built, in part, with three hits each by Joey Gathright and Alex Gordon, two RBIs by Miguel Olivo, and, yes, an RBI single by Guillen.
Greinke was excused after a career-high 117 pitches, and Hillman turned over the ninth inning to reliever Ramon Ramirez. There was a big lead and, besides, closer Joakim Soria had thrown two innings and 31 pitches in Tuesday night's 12-inning loss to the Twins. He was on the don't-use list.
"I'm not willing to possibly jeopardize the rest of the season with one of our biggest strengths and that was our closer," Hillman said.
"I'd have loved to have had him, I'd have loved to have pitched him, but we've got a lot more games left."
Ramirez got two strikeouts, but got into trouble with four singles that scored two runs.
"That stuff doesn't happen normally," said Greinke. "I mean, Ramirez didn't make any bad pitches the whole time. The balls that were hit weren't hit that hard. It just happened."
That prompted Hillman to summon Peralta. His options were further limited because hard-throwing Leo Nunez was out with an injury that put him on the disabled list after the game. Left-handers Ron Mahay and Jimmy Gobble had pitched two innings each on Tuesday night.
"We didn't have anybody else available. I mean we had [Yasuhiko] Yabuta," Hillman said.
Peralta arrived to face Monroe, batting for Alexi Casilla. The count ran full, and Monroe lined a three-run shot just over the left-field wall.
The score was tied, 8-8.
"I got beat. Home run. I made mistakes and I paid for it," Peralta said. "That's all."
The Royals couldn't do anything in their half of the ninth. Morneau led off the Twins' 10th and belted Peralta's first pitch into the right-field bullpen.
"I just threw the pitch down. I thought it was a good pitch, but he's a good hitter and he hit it," Peralta said.
Closer Joe Nathan arrived for the bottom half and shut down the Royals one-two-three. The losing streak had reached 10 and, with the Detroit Tigers winning, the Royals were alone in last place in the American League Central.
And Guillen was sounding off.
"We don't get the job done. That's it. There are too many guys get one hit, do this, do that and it's like they've given up because they don't care. Everybody. Twenty-five people, including me. Everybody.
"We have too many babies here that don't know how to play the game. We're going to teach them the hard way or we'll teach them the easy way. But things are going to change in here, I'm going to tell you that. I can promise you that. It's going to change. And soon."
One thing that would not change this night, though, was the despair felt by Peralta -- not for himself, he said, but because he let his teammates down.
"I won't sleep tonight, for sure," he said.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.