Royals

Royals’ offense shows some punch in 7-3 win over Minnesota Twins

The Royals’ Lorenzo Cain flashed a smile after scoring on a double by Eric Hosmer against the Twins on Friday night in Minneapolis.
The Royals’ Lorenzo Cain flashed a smile after scoring on a double by Eric Hosmer against the Twins on Friday night in Minneapolis. The Associated Press

The battle between pitcher and hitter was only two pitches old, and already the rules for engagement had been set.

Twins starting pitcher Kyle Gibson was poised to spike slider after slider into the dirt, and Royals catcher Salvador Perez would have to decide.

If he could conquer this cat-and-mouse game — if he could dig deep for patience and discipline — he could force Gibson to adjust. If not, he would face a long walk back to the Royals’ dugout.

It was the top of the fifth inning on Friday night. The Royals trailed by a run with the bases loaded and two outs. Perez had waved at two sliders that ended up in the other batter's box, nowhere near the strike zone.

“I think he’s going to throw me fastballs the first two pitches,” Perez would say, “and he keep going slider.”

The count was 0-2, and Gibson prepared to throw another slider in the dirt, and for once, Perez held up. He watched the pitch bounce in front of home plate, and he did it again as the count reached 2-2. And on the next pitch, Gibson finally relented, heaving a 93 mph fastball that stayed up.

Perez took a healthy cut, blooping a broken-bat single over third base. The single scored the decisive runs in Kansas City's 7-3 victory over the Twins at Target Field. The singular battle helped the offense supply some rare punch on the opening night of a six-game road trip.

"Those are kind of the breaks that have been going against us a little bit," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "To finally take the lead back on that hit was big ... but that's what happens when you put the ball in play."

On a night when starter Yordano Ventura recorded a strong outing, allowing three runs across seven innings, the Royals’ lineup provided the necessary support.

Center fielder Paulo Orlando racked up two more hits, raising his season average to .325. Rookie second baseman Raul A. Mondesi finished 1 for 3, roping an RBI double to right field. Designated hitter Kendrys Morales punctuated the victory with a solo homer in the seventh, his 19th of the season.

When it was over, the Royals (56-59) had suddenly won five of six and notched their first three-game winning streak since June 17-19. With one more victory this weekend, they can clinch their third straight series victory. On the 12th day of August, they matched their win total (seven) from all of July.

“We haven’t given up on [this season],” Yost said. “Our pitching and defense has carried us here this last week. We haven’t been getting the offense we need.”

That changed oFriday night. Facing off against Gibson, a former Mizzou standout, the Royals struck first in the top of the first inning, taking advantage of a throwing error by third baseman Trevor Plouffe. The defensive lapse allowed Lorenzo Cain to reach base with two out. Eric Hosmer followed by walloping a double to deep center field, scoring Cain from first base.

One inning later, Orlando stretched the lead to 2-0 on an RBI single to right field. The inning had begun with consecutive singles from Alex Gordon and Alcides Escobar. Mondesi followed with a sacrifice bunt down the first-base line. Orlando squared up a first-pitch fastball from Gibson, lacing a single into an open space in right field.

The Twins would slice into the lead in the bottom of the second, on a solo homer from designated hitter Miguel Sano. Ventura would stumble again in the third, allowing a two-run shot to second baseman Brian Dozier.

The blast to Sano came on an 0-1 fastball, while Dozier jumped on an 88 mph changeup, lining his 24th homer of the season into the bullpen beyond left-center.

The second homer gave the Twins a 3-2 lead. The margin wouldn’t last. Ventura allowed just four hits while striking out nine. He worked through the seventh inning, improving to 8-9 on the season while shaving his ERA down to 4.60.

"My curveball today was better than the changeup, so that's what I used more," Ventura said.

As Friday began, the Royals had readied for the first night of a six-game road trip through Minnesota and Detroit. One night earlier, they had notched their second straight series victory — the first such streak since June. But in most respects, they remained an afterthought in the American League playoff race. At 55-59, they sat seven games out of the final AL Wild Card spot. As he sat in his office here on Friday, Yost could not remember his team’s record.

In this case, the ignorance was not born of an absentee landlord syndrome, but rather based on superstition and precedent. Yost saw little reason to pay attention to the standings until his team returned to .500. But yes, a weekend here against the last-place Twins offered an opportunity to chip away.

For one night, the Royals did just that. Another starting pitcher recorded a quality start. The offense scored more than six runs for just the third time since July 19. The formula netted a road victory.

“I still haven’t given up on this,” Yost said. “If we get to .500 and start to take off a little bit … who knows what’s going to happen?”

Royals 7, Twins 3

ABABA

Kansas City

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Orlando cf

5

1

2

1

0

1

.325

Cuthbert 3b

5

0

1

0

0

2

.301

Cain rf

5

2

0

0

0

2

.274

Hosmer 1b

5

0

1

1

0

2

.277

Morales dh

2

1

2

1

2

0

.248

Perez c

4

0

1

2

0

0

.263

Gordon lf

4

1

1

0

0

2

.204

Escobar ss

4

1

2

0

0

0

.252

Mondesi 2b

3

1

1

1

0

2

.212

Totals

37

7

11

6

2

11

Minnesota

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Dozier 2b

4

1

2

2

0

1

.264

Mauer 1b

4

0

0

0

0

1

.276

Kepler rf

4

0

1

0

0

1

.258

Sano dh

3

1

1

1

1

1

.253

Rosario cf

4

0

0

0

0

4

.264

Plouffe 3b

4

0

0

0

0

1

.245

Polanco ss

3

0

0

0

0

2

.321

Suzuki c

3

1

1

0

0

0

.283

Grossman lf

3

0

0

0

0

1

.262

Totals

32

3

5

3

1

12

Kansas City

110

022

100

7

11

0

Minnesota

012

000

000

3

5

1

E: Plouffe (7). LOB: Kansas City 6, Minnesota 3. 2B: Hosmer (21), Mondesi (1), Suzuki (21). HR: Morales (19), off Dean; Sano (20), off Ventura; Dozier (24), off Ventura. RBIs: Orlando (24), Hosmer (65), Morales (55), Perez 2 (50), Mondesi (5), Dozier 2 (68), Sano (50). SB: Orlando (10), Cain (9), Mondesi (4). S: Mondesi.

Runners left in scoring position: Kansas City 4 (Cain 2, Perez, Gordon); Minnesota 2 (Rosario, Plouffe). RISP: Kansas City 2 for 10; Minnesota 1 for 4. Runners moved up: Grossman, Kepler. GIDP: Perez. DP: Minnesota 1 (Plouffe, Dozier, Mauer).

Kansas City

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Ventura W, 8-9

7

4

3

3

1

9

105

4.60

Strahm

1

1

0

0

0

1

20

1.80

Soria

1

0

0

0

0

2

12

4.14

Minnesota

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Gibson L, 4-7

5

10

6

5

2

4

96

5.09

Chargois

1

0

0

0

0

1

15

10.38

Dean

3

1

1

1

0

6

39

5.36

Gibson pitched to 2 batters in the 6th.

Strahm pitched to 1 batter in the 9th.

Inherited runners-scored: Soria 1-0, Chargois 1-1. WP: Chargois.

Umpires: Home, Mark Ripperger; First, Kerwin Danley; Second, Paul Nauert; Third, Andy Fletcher. Time: 2:48. Att: 24,617.

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