Royals

Alex Gordon hits two homers, Royals rout Twins 10-0 for seventh straight victory

Alex Gordon celebrated with his Royals teammates in the dugout after he hit a solo home run in the fifth inning against the Minnesota Twins on Saturday night at Kauffman Stadium. It was his second home run of the game.
Alex Gordon celebrated with his Royals teammates in the dugout after he hit a solo home run in the fifth inning against the Minnesota Twins on Saturday night at Kauffman Stadium. It was his second home run of the game. jsleezer@kcstar.com

The wait lasted months, through a slow start in April and a painful injury in May, through a return in late June and a disastrous performance during a dreadful July. All year, the Royals waited for the real Alex Gordon to arrive, the one they call Alexander the Great inside the locker room, the maniacal worker who spends his afternoons stalking the weight room, the franchise left fielder who signed the richest contract in franchise history during the offseason.

They waited and waited, and all the while Gordon was waiting, too, wondering what he had to do to snap out of the worst season of his career.

“All year,” Gordon says. “I was trying to find something.”

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Finally, it appears he has. On Saturday night at Kauffman Stadium, Gordon clubbed two homers as the Royals decimated the Minnesota Twins 10-0, clinching their seventh straight win and fifth straight series victory. On an idyllic summer night in Kansas City, Gordon fueled this late-summer surge, finishing 3 for 4 as a team once left for dead improved to 63-60, just 4  1/2 games out of the final American League Wild Card spot.

“He’s a leader of this team,” said first baseman Eric Hosmer, standing just 15 feet away from Gordon’s corner in the clubhouse. “We feed off of him. I think his play has kind of characterized how the whole team has been playing as of late.”

Gordon extended his hitting streak to 11 games and notched his first multi-homer game since May 18, 2014 at Baltimore. In his last 15 games, Gordon is batting .345 with a .727 slugging percentage, raising his season average to .227, its highest point since May 13, before a broken scaphoid bone knocked him out for a month in late May.

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“You just let him do his thing,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “It’s one of those things that he struggled so much, for the better part of a year. But still as a manager, I had a lot of confidence that at the end of the year his numbers were going to be pretty acceptable, almost Alex Gordon numbers.”

If the Royals are going to continue this wild run toward an improbable playoff berth — improbable in the sense that they were 51-58 as recently as Aug. 5 — Gordon will likely need to continue raking, continue aiding an offense that spent its July in slumber. But as the club prepared for a series finale against Minnesota on Sunday, before a day off on Monday, the following was essentially true.

Gordon can’t stop hitting homers, stroking five in his last five games. The starting rotation can’t stop recording strong outings. The Royals suddenly can’t stop winning.

One question: Where was this in July?

“You knew this group was capable of doing it,” said starting pitcher Ian Kennedy, who shut down the Twins for eight innings. “But it took a little while.”

Royals' Ian Kennedy continues tremendous run 

As the offense roared, and the Royals continued their dominance over the Twins, moving to 10-2 against Minnesota this season, Kennedy continued his own late-season tear. He tossed eight scoreless innings, lowering his ERA to 3.58 for the season and 0.79 in his last five starts. Since July 30, Kennedy has yielded just three earned runs in 34 innings and limited opponents to a .185 batting average. In the process, he tied Larry Gura’s club record of five straight outings with six innings pitched and one run or fewer allowed.

“Duffy hasn’t done that yet?” Kennedy asked, referencing the continued excellence of left-hander Danny Duffy.

In this case, no. And after months of solid — if unspectacular — results, Kennedy has made his own claim as the Royals’ most dependable starter over the last month.

“He’s been completely in control,” Yost said of Kennedy. “He’s just been throwing the ball extremely well.”

When the night was over, the Royals had made up another game on first-place Cleveland and another game on Baltimore (67-55), which was in position for a second wild card. But at this point, the standings are so crowded, so full of teams and moving parts and different scenarios, that the Royals have largely avoided the subject.

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“Honestly, we’re not really thinking about wild card,” Hosmer said. “We’re not thinking about division. We’re just thinking about just getting done what we need to get done in here. We all know what we’re capable of. We all know, as a team, we can go on some crazy runs.”

Case in point: the last 14 games. On Saturday, the Royals piled up 17 hits and overpowered Twins starter Hector Santiago for eight runs across 4  2/3 innings. Lorenzo Cain finished 3 for 4 with three RBIs. Salvador Perez clubbed a two-run homer to deep left field in the bottom of the fifth, moments before Gordon crushed his second homer of the night. Hosmer and Cheslor Cuthbert collected two hits apiece.

“The offense was rolling,” Gordon said. “We talked about it last year, just keep the line moving. It’s kind of what we did tonight. It’s kind of contagious.”

Gordon, of course, was at the heart of it. After months of waiting, of searching for comfort, timing and results, he has started to lock in. The stretch started close to 10 days ago, he says, when the Chicago White Sox visited Kauffman Stadium. The momentum has sustained for four series. The result has been 12 wins in 14 games.

So here is Gordon, hitting again after a prolonged slumped threatened to steal his season. And here are the Royals, suddenly alive and on the fringes of playoff position, in the outside lane and gaining steam.

“I hope it lasts the whole year,” Gordon said. “We got a good thing going right now, winning games, having fun. Hopefully, I can keep this up and the team can keep it up, too.”

Royals 10, Twins 0

Minnesota

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Dozier 2b

4

0

0

0

0

1

.266

Polanco ss

3

0

0

0

0

0

.306

Mauer dh

3

0

0

0

0

1

.277

b-Sano ph-dh

1

0

0

0

0

0

.244

Plouffe 1b

4

0

0

0

0

1

.251

Rosario cf

3

0

1

0

0

0

.274

E.Escobar 3b

3

0

2

0

0

0

.264

Grossman lf

3

0

0

0

0

1

.259

Suzuki c

3

0

1

0

0

0

.282

Santana rf

3

0

0

0

0

2

.247

Totals

30

0

4

0

0

6

Kansas City

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Orlando cf

5

1

1

0

0

1

.316

Cuthbert 3b

5

1

2

1

0

1

.296

Cain rf

4

1

3

3

0

0

.289

Hosmer 1b

5

1

2

1

0

0

.274

Morales dh

3

0

1

0

2

0

.244

Perez c

4

1

1

2

0

0

.257

a-Butera ph-c

1

0

0

0

0

0

.274

Gordon lf

4

3

3

2

0

0

.227

Burns lf

0

0

0

0

0

0

.125

A.Escobar ss

4

1

2

0

0

0

.261

Mondesi ss

0

0

0

0

0

0

.211

Colon 2b

4

1

2

1

0

0

.244

Totals

39

10

17

10

2

2

Minnesota

000

000

000

0

4

0

Kansas City

003

141

10x

10

17

0

a-flied out for Perez in the 8th. b-grounded out for Mauer in the 9th.

2B:Cuthbert (21), Cain 2 (17), Gordon (12), A.Escobar (16), Colon (5). HR: Gordon (12), off Santiago; Perez (17), off Santiago; Gordon (13), off Santiago. RBIs: Cuthbert (40), Cain 3 (51), Hosmer (72), Perez 2 (54), Gordon 2 (26), Colon (10). SF: Cain.

LOB: Minnesota 4, Kansas City 8. Runners left in scoring position: Minnesota 1 (Suzuki); Kansas City 4 (Cuthbert, Morales, Perez 2). RISP: Minnesota 0 for 2; Kansas City 5 for 12. Runners moved up: Hosmer. GIDP: Suzuki, Hosmer. DP: Minnesota 1 (Dozier, Polanco, Plouffe); Kansas City 1 (A.Escobar, Colon, Hosmer)

Minnesota

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Santiago L, 10-8

42/3

11

8

8

0

2

80

10.90

Mejia

21/3

5

2

2

1

0

42

7.71

Chargois

1

1

0

0

1

0

13

8.53

Kansas City

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Kennedy W, 8-9

8

4

0

0

0

6

111

3.58

Flynn

1

0

0

0

0

0

12

2.72

HBP: Kennedy (Polanco). WP: Santiago.

Umpires: Home, Stu Scheurwater; First, Bill Miller; Second, Todd Tichenor; Third, Brian Knight. Time: 2:31. Att: 29,268.

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