Mondesi electrifies KC crowd in loss

KANSAS CITY — Royals shortstop Adalberto Mondesi is the type of five-tool player who can give fans a special moment each time he steps on the field.

And that moment came in the eighth inning of Tuesday’s 5-4, 10-inning loss to the Twins, when Mondesi smashed a drive off the center-field wall that then eluded outfielder Byron Buxton. Mondesi turned on the jets and circled the bases for an inside-the-park home run, his career first. The home run gave the Royals a 4-3 lead at the time.

The Royals eventually fell. But their players were still chatting about Mondesi’s feat afterward.

“That guy is exciting to watch,” starting pitcher Brad Keller said. “He’s unbelievable defensively and unbelievable on the basepaths.”

What amazed several Royals was that Mondesi didn’t really start running until he got near second base. He admitted later that he originally thought he’d cleared the fences with his long drive.

“I thought I got it for a second,” Mondesi said. “Then I got a chance to score anyway when I saw it wasn’t [out of the ballpark], I just do what I got to do and run hard. It works.”

In fact, Mondesi, one of the fastest runners in baseball, posted a 29.8 feet per second sprint speed (30.0 is considered elite).

“It’s impressive to watch,” fellow speedster Terrance Gore said. “Once the ball kicked away, we knew [it was a home run].”

Added Billy Hamilton, another speedster: “He wasn’t even running that hard until he got near second base.”

But Mondesi smiled and said, “But yeah, it worked out the right way.”

The home run was only part of Mondesi’s night at the plate. He singled in a run in the first and doubled in the third. He’s hitting .412 through four games.

“He’s just really coming into his own offensively,” manager Ned Yost said. “He exhibited power and he exhibited speed, and exhibited range in the infield. He’s just really coming into his own.”

Yet the night ended in frustration for the Royals.

Right-hander Ian Kennedy, who registered his first career save on Saturday, couldn’t hold the lead for the Royals this time, giving up a double to Jorge Polanco and an RBI single to Eddie Rosario in the ninth.

Reliever Brad Boxberger then gave up the go-ahead run in the 10th on an RBI single by Nelson Cruz.

Keller worked around traffic for most of his six innings. He gave up five hits and three runs while walking four and striking out five.

Keller’s only real mistake was letting a 3-0 fastball catch too much of the plate in the fifth inning to Cruz, who belted it off the wall in right-center for a two-run double.

Ryan O’Hearn hit the Royals’ first home run of the season in the sixth, tying the score at 3. O’Hearn ripped a 2-1 fastball from right-hander Jose Berrios over the right-field fence — a projected 429 feet.

“It’s a tough loss,” Mondesi said, “but we have to keep our head up and keep working.”