Just stating the obvious here, but the Twins need to have a strong homestand. They got off on the right foot on Monday night, coming back from an early two-run deficit to hold off the Royals the rest of the way.
Joe Ryan struck out the side in the first inning. Well, not really. (That’s a debate we can have another day ... what’s your definition of “striking out the side?”) But he did register three outs on strikeouts. The only problem is after the first two batters of the game fanned, Salvador Perez singled and Vinnie Pasquantino knocked a two-run home run into right.
Royals starter Kris Bubic did the same in the bottom of the opening frame, working around a one-out walk to Carlos Correa and striking out everyone else he faced.
The Twins opened the second with a pair of singles from Jorge Polanco and Nick Gordon. After a Gio Urshela flyout, Max Kepler stroked his first of three hits on the night, driving in the Twins’ first run and cutting the lead in half.
Ryan continued to scatter baserunners here and there while the Twins did the same offensively. In the fifth inning, however, Luis Arraez, Correa, and Jose Miranda all stroked singles sandwiched around a Byron Buxton strikeout, and the game was tied. Polanco hit a sacrifice fly to center field to give the Twins the lead.
With the Twins leading 3-2, Ryan came back out for the top of the sixth. He walked Pasquantino and gave up a double to Michael Massey before coming up clutch with a strikeout of Nate Eaton. Rocco Baldelli removed Ryan from the game, and Caleb Thielbar was asked to get perhaps the biggest outs of the game.
The Royals asked former Twin Brent Rooker (traded to KC from San Diego at the trade deadline) to pinch-hit for Nick Pratto, but Thielbar stood tall and got him to fly out to Gordon in left. Then, Thielbar was able to get pinch-hitter Michael A. Taylor on three pitches to shut down the rally.
The Twins were able to scratch one more run across in the bottom of the frame on a Max Kepler one-out double followed by a Gary Sanchez single.
Griffin Jax pitched a solid seventh, allowing just one walk and Jhoan Duran pitched a dominant eighth. Jorge Lopez made things interesting again in the ninth inning, allowing a leadoff double and a one-out single, giving the Royals runners on the corners with one out. But Lopez coaxed a grounder to Tim Beckham at first base, who turned and threw to Correa covering second for the first out. Correa fired an absolute missile back to Beckham at first, and the Twins were victorious.
- The Twins started the day tied with Chicago in second, 2.5 games behind the first-place Guardians. After Cleveland split a doubleheader with Detroit and Chicago beat the Houston Astros, and both the Twins and White Sox are two back at day’s end.
- Outside of Lopez’s hiccup in the ninth, the bullpen bounced back nicely after the weekend’s shenanigans vs. the Angels.
- Max Kepler had three hits in his first three at-bats.
- Time to go on a run. Two more against Kansas City and four against the Texas Rangers.
- Max Kepler: 3-for-4, 2B, RBI, R
- Byron Buxton: 2-for-4
- Jose Miranda: 1-for-3, game-tying RBI
- Jorge Polanco: 1-for-3, R, go-ahead RBI
- Twins Bullpen: 3 2/3, 2 H, BB, 4 K
- None. We needed a dud-free game, didn’t we?