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Royals 3, Twins 2: Santana shines in return, but Royals walk off in ninth

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Kansas City salvages series split.

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

From the off it looked like it would be the Twins' game to lose. Danny Duffy couldn't get anything by Minnesota hitters. A second-inning double by Miguel Sano and a solo shot from Aaron Hicks in the third put the visiting Twins up 2-0, and it could have been much worse - Torii Hunter ended threats in the first and third innings by grounding into a pair of double plays.

Ervin Santana was nearly brilliant in his debut. Over eight innings he scattered three hits while striking out eight. He did issue three walks, and if there's one takeaway from today's game for the Twins it's that walks will haunt. Omar Infante walked to lead off the bottom of the third and would score on a Drew Butera single. (Thanks for nothing, Sweet Drew.) Santana's second run came off of a solo shot from Alex Gordon in the fifth, but the walks would be back.

On the positive side for the Twins, Joe Mauer had another multi-hit game today. Miguel Sano looks good in the early going, making hard contact and reaching base multiple times. Both players were stranded on the bases this afternoon, including Sano being stranded at second in the seventh inning. Brian Dozier ripped a double into the left-field corner in the eighth but would also be stranded. The Twins were a pathetic 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

Santana departed after eight very good innings with the game tied at two. Blaine Boyer walked Lorenzo Cain on five pitches to kick off the bottom of the ninth, and then Aaron Thompson served up an Eric Hosmer double into the right-field corner. Hosmer's double plated Cain, with the relay coming in far too high for Kurt Suzuki to apply a tag. Even an on-target throw wasn't likely to have gotten him.

The Twins split the four-game set in Kansas City, which is pretty good in the big picture. Especially when considering that Minnesota could have quite easily won three if not all four of those contests. Kansas City looked sluggish at times, and no doubt we weren't seeing them at their best.

Offense is in short supply for the Twins, who clearly aren't at their best in that aspect of the game. The addition of Sano helps, but getting Byron Buxton back, not to mention potential additions down the line of Oswaldo Arcia and Josmil Pinto, could help. Finding a hitter at short or an upgrade behind the plate would be a big boost for Minnesota's run scoring, but those positions where it's difficult to acquire a good player at the best of times.

While the Royals go to 46-33, the Twins fall to 43-49 and remain four-and-a-half games back. Minnesota has three more games in Kanas City in early September, so until then if the Twins are going to gain ground they'll have to do it in spite of how the Royals play.

There were some nice takeaways from this weekend's series, other than the fact that the Twins can quite clearly keep pace with the Royals on their own turf. Sano looks good. Santana had a great game. Hicks had a nice game. Mauer is driving the ball.

Let's just not talk about the bullpen.

ROLL CALL!

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COMMENT OF THE GAME THREAD

Win-MIN-Twins: "It would have been nice if Paul had realized Boyer wasn't a good move before the inning started.

STUDS

Ervin Santana
Aaron Hicks
Joe Mauer
Brian Dozier
Miguel Sano
Shane Robinson, honorary stud

DUDS

Blaine Boyer
Aaron Thompson
Torii Hunter
Eduardo Nunez