MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Miguel Sano’s hustle led Minnesota to a pair of early runs and his RBI double tied the game in the decisive seventh inning, helping the Twins dodge a series sweep by beating the Kansas City Royals 6-5 on Wednesday night.
Brian Dozier didn’t hit a home run for Minnesota, ending his club-tying record at five straight games, but he singled and stole second before scoring on Sano’s double off Joakim Soria (4-8). Dozier also started a dazzling double play to finish the fifth inning, with a diving stop of Eric Hosmer’s grounder and a glove flick to second base to get the ball out while he was flat on the dirt.
Alex Wimmers (1-0) pitched a scoreless seventh in relief of Kyle Gibson to record his first major league victory. Brandon Kintzler gave up Jarrod Dyson’s two-out RBI single before finishing the ninth inning for his 14th save in 16 attempts.
Kendrys Morales had three hits, including his sixth home run in the last eight games, and Drew Butera also went deep for the Royals. Danny Duffy struck out 10 batters without a walk over six innings, but the bullpen cost Kansas City an opportunity to creep forward in the AL wild-card race. It stayed four games behind Baltimore, which holds the second spot.
Sano beat a relay throw in the first inning to stave off a double play after his bouncer back to the mound and later scored on Robbie Grossman’s single. In the fifth, the burly slugger ran fast enough after his routine grounder to shortstop that Alcides Escobar threw high to first for an error. Byron Buxton raced home from second base to score on the play, touching home plate as he hurdled Sano’s bat with a head-first dive to elude Butera’s tag.
Grossman and Buxton each homered for the Twins, who won for only the third time in their last 20 games.
MORALES OF THE STORY
Morales, who also drove in a run with a fourth-inning single, went deep to lead off the sixth. He has a 10-game hitting streak going, with 15 RBIs and 17 hits in 42 at-bats for a .405 batting average during the stretch.
LESSON NOT LEARNED
Jarrod Dyson and Paulo Orlando started the game with singles, but both of them were picked off first base with a quick throw by the right-handed Gibson, who had only six pickoffs in 93 previous major league starts.
Twins 3B Trevor Plouffe was diagnosed with a strain of the intercostal and oblique muscles on his left side, his third injury this year to that area including a broken rib in July. This one will keep him out at least a few weeks, so with only 22 games to go he’s not likely to play again this season. Sano’s presence means Plouffe might have played his last game for the team that drafted him out of high school in the first round in 2004.
“If it happens that that was my last at-bat, it would be pretty sad. I hope it’s not,” said Plouffe, who is making $7.25 million with one more year of eligibility for salary arbitration. “My No. 1 thing, if I had my choice, would be to be back here.”
LONG WAY, MATES
The parents of Twins rookie James Beresford traveled 25 hours from their native Australia to surprise their son in a touching moment outside the clubhouse before the game that the team arranged. The 27-year-old Beresford, an infielder, played in 1,070 minor league games before being called up on Tuesday.
ROYALS: Butera played behind the plate for Perez, who was out with a bruised right wrist after being hit there by a pitch the night before. Perez could be back in the lineup by Friday.
TWINS: 1B Joe Mauer was given a day to rest his strained quadriceps muscles, an injury that has lingered for the last three weeks.
ROYALS: After a travel day, Kansas City starts a three-game series on Friday in Chicago. RHP Yordano Ventura (10-9, 4.22 ERA) will take the mound, opposite LHP Carlos Rodon (6-8, 3.90 ERA) of the White Sox.
TWINS: Following an off day at home, Minnesota hosts division-leading Cleveland for three games. RHP Tyler Duffey (8-10, 6.24 ERA) pitches for the Twins, against RHP Danny Salazar (11-6, 3.78 ERA) of the Indians.
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