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Twins unable to capitalize on opportunities in loss to Royals

Say this for the Twins: They did a good job of clogging the bases on Saturday, consistently putting runners in scoring position. They didn’t, however, do a good job bringing those runners home.

The Twins fell 3-2 to the Kansas City Royals on Saturday at Target Field on a day when they finished 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position and left 12 men on base. The Royals, meanwhile, manufactured some late offense against the Twins’ top relievers to capture their first win of the season over the Twins.

“When you’re on the verge, and you have baserunners in scoring position, and the guys are feeling good at the plate and putting good swings on the ball and you do that the whole game, you’re going to score a bunch of runs,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We just couldn’t find a way today and couldn’t pull away in any way or do the things that we needed to do to separate.”

And because of their inability to separate, some late-inning blips ended up sinking them. Salvador Perez’s eighth-inning single off Jorge López brought home Bobby Witt Jr., who reached base on a Griffin Jax walk to begin the frame. Then an inning later, some uncharacteristic command issues from Jhoan Duran helped lead to the Royals’ game-winning run.

Duran walked the first batter he faced on four pitches, walked the next with the help of a pitch clock violation and ended up uncorking a wild pitch to bring home Edward Olivares.

“I’m feeling good, you know?” Duran said. “That happens sometimes. You don’t always throw good. That’s baseball.”

That, plus one run earlier off Bailey Ober in his 5 2/3-innings start, was enough for the Royals (7-21) on a day when the Twins (16-12) couldn’t convert their opportunities. Between the third and sixth innings, the Twins left two or more runners on in each, coming away with just one run — Byron Buxton scored on a wild pitch after walking to begin the fourth.

Buxton was responsible for their only other run of the day, a solo home run in the seventh inning which was lasered out to left. The ball seemed to hit off the flower bed and popped back up. The designated hitter kept running until he got to second, and after he stopped, the umpires declared the hit a home run.

It was reminiscent of a play earlier in the day when Jorge Polanco hit a ball off the top of the wall in right. In that instance, though, Polanco thought the ball was out and went into his home run trot, getting thrown out at second base on a ball that was in play.

Singles from both Carlos Correa and Polanco in the ninth inning gave the Twins one last chance, but as they had done so many times earlier in the day on Saturday, the Twins just left another pair of runners stranded.

“We just didn’t get those timely hits that we normally get. To be able to have a chance to tie it up and win the game in the ninth, that’s what you’re asking for,” Buxton said. “It didn’t turn out the way we wanted to, but to be able to grind and get on base and keep passing that torch along is something that’s going to be big for us throughout the year.”