KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Twins’ Jorge Polanco drove in the go-ahead runs off ailing Kansas City closer Kelvin Herrera with two outs in the ninth inning, and Minnesota rallied to beat the Royals 4-2 on Thursday night.
Herrera, who has been dealing with a mild forearm strain, inherited a 2-1 lead before giving up a pair of singles and a walk. Brian Dozier hit a tying sacrifice fly, and after Joe Mauer was walked intentionally, Polanco lined a single up the middle for the lead.
Trevor Hildenberger (3-2) earned the win with a scoreless eighth in relief of Twins starter Kyle Gibson, while Matt Belisle handled a perfect ninth to pick up his sixth save.
Herrera (3-3) squandered a solid night from Sam Gaviglio, who was recently claimed off waivers from the Mariners, and the rest of the Kansas City bullpen. Gaviglio allowed only a homer from Robbie Grossman and three other hits in five innings before a trio of relievers got the game to the ninth.
The loss was especially devastating for the roller-coaster Royals given their place in the crowded AL wild-card race. They began the night 2 1/2 games back of the Twins with 24 games to play.
Gaviglio and Gibson matched each other through four scoreless innings before Grossman took a 3-2 pitch from the Royals’ new starter into the bullpen in right field with one out in the fifth.
Alex Gordon singled in Alcides Escobar in the bottom half, and Whit Merrifield’s hard-hit single gave Kansas City a lead that would stand until the ninth.
Max Kepler started the Twins’ go-ahead rally with a single. Then, after Eduardo Escobar struck out, Jason Castro singled and Grossman walked to set up Dozier, whose fly ball to the wall tied the game.
Polanco followed with the eventual game-winning hit.
Twins 3B Miguel Sano (left shin) did light running but hit off a tee rather than taking batting practice after experiencing soreness. He has been on the DL retroactive to Aug. 20. “We’ll see if he can get on the field (Friday),” manager Paul Molitor said.
Royals 3B Cheslor Cuthbert was out of the lineup while dealing with a gallbladder issue. … LHP Danny Duffy (left elbow impingement) and RHP Joakim Soria (left oblique strain) threw off the mound. “Both did OK,” manager Ned Yost said. “They’re making progress.” … 3B Mike Moustakas was the DH to give his achy right knee a rest. “He’s playable,” Yost said, “or he wouldn’t be in there.”
Royals RHP Ian Kennedy and Twins RHP Ervin Santana meet in a rematch of last Sunday, when neither factored into Kansas City’s 5-4 victory. Kennedy allowed four runs, two earned, in 5 2/3 innings while Santana yielded four runs in 6 2/3 innings.
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