KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Nelson Cruz hit his 10th homer, Marwin Gonzalez had two RBIs and closer Taylor Rogers dodged trouble in the ninth inning to lift the Minnesota Twins over the Kansas City Royals 5-4 on Sunday.
Cruz connected on closer Trevor Rosenthal’s 99 mph fastball for a solo shot that went an estimated 441 feet to center field in the ninth inning. The drive gave Minnesota a two-run lead and helped the Twins win their eighth series in nine tries this season.
“You definitely have to be straight to the ball,” Cruz said. “We know that he throws hard and he has some good breaking balls.”
Max Wisler opened with two scoreless innings for Minnesota and Tyler Clippard (1-0) got the win with a perfect eighth. Rogers allowed an RBI single to Maikel Franco in the ninth but retired Alex Gordon to complete his sixth save.
“Our guys dealt with very high stress situations time and time again today,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “There was nothing that came easy for either team. Even though the score didn’t change a ton, there was a lot going on.”
Kansas City also had the bases loaded with two outs in the seventh inning, but Adalberto Mondesi struck out against Sergio Romo. The Royals are 2 for 21 with the bases loaded this season.
“It comes down to those situations and those are opportunities we are going to get it done, but frustrating not to have done it yet,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said.
Kris Bubic (0-4), the Royals’ 2018 first-round pick, allowed four runs and nine hits in 3 1/3 innings. He’s yet to get a win in any of his five big league starts.
“The results haven’t look great, but I’m just going to keep learning,” Bubic said. “Hopefully next year I’ll laugh about outings like this one.”
Minnesota’s Miguel Sano scored Max Kepler on an RBI double to right-center to plate the first run of the game, and Eddie Rosario scored Sano on an RBI single the next at-bat to lead 2-0.
After three straight singles in the third by Cruz, Sano and Rosario — two of which didn’t leave the infield — Gonzalez scored two with a double to left field to extend the score to 4-0.
The Royals responded right away when Meibrys Viloria walked, Hunter Dozier doubled for one of his career-high four hits, which was then followed by a double by Jorge Soler, which scored both runners to cut the deficit in half at 4-2.
With two outs in the seventh, Dozier singled, Soler walked and Franco hit an RBI single right Gonzalez’s glove at third to cut the lead to 4-3 before Mondesi’s strikeout.
Royals: RHP Jake Newberry was optioned after Saturday’s game and RHP Chance Adams was recalled.
Twins: Clippard was hit in the right arm by a line drive on the third out of the eighth inning. Manager Rocco Baldelli said imaging didn’t show a serious injury, but he anticipates shutting Clippard down from throwing for some amount of time.
Royals: RHP Danny Duffy might get a few extra days before his next start. Although no official injury has been reported, manager Mike Matheny said he’d like all his guys to be rested as they gear up for 20 games in the next 21 days.
Royals: Travel to St. Louis for a three-game series starting Monday night. RHP Brad Keller (3-0, 0.00) faces Cardinals RHP Jack Flaherty (1-0, 3.12).
Twins: Start a three-game series on the road against Cleveland on Monday night. RHP Kenta Maeda (3-0, 2.27) took a no-hitter into the ninth inning of his last start against Milwaukee. He’ll face RHP Aaron Civale (3-2, 2.91), who pitched his first career complete game against Pittsburgh last week.
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