MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Kansas City Royals became the only unbeaten team in the majors as Danny Duffy pitched into the seventh inning and Kendrys Morales homered in a 12-3 romp over Minnesota, spoiling the Twins’ home opener Monday.
The defending American League champions improved to 7-0. It’s the second-best start in Kansas City’s history, behind the 2003 club that won nine in a row to begin the season.
Detroit, which had been the only other undefeated team in the big leagues, lost 5-4 at Pittsburgh earlier in the day.
Duffy (1-0) went 6 1/3 innings, giving up three runs. He’s 4-1 with a 2.37 ERA in his career against the Twins and is undefeated in four starts at Target Field.
The Twins lost their fourth straight opener, but on a sunny 61-degree day they still packed the place with an over-capacity crowd of 40,123. Minnesota Timberwolves icon Kevin Garnett threw out the ceremonial first pitch to his long-time friend Torii Hunter.
The Twins lost their fourth straight opener, but on a sunny 61-degree day they still packed the place with an over-capacity crowd of 40,123. Minnesota Timberwolves icon Kevin Garnett, who hasn’t played in a game since March 7 for the NBA team that plays across the street, threw out the ceremonial first pitch to his longtime friend Torii Hunter.
Hunter, who returned to the Twins this season after seven years away, tipped his helmet during a brief step out of the box to acknowledge the standing ovation during his first at-bat. The cheers were scant the rest of the afternoon.
Morales, who failed to hit a home run in 67 plate appearances at Target Field during his stint with the Twins last summer, sent a pitch from Trevor May (0-1) in the second inning into the upper deck.
The scary part for the rest of the league is that the Royals, last in the majors in home runs last season, have gone deep 10 times already.
The bullpen hasn’t been scored on yet, with 21 strikeouts in 19 innings.
Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain on his 29th birthday and Eric Hosmer each drove in two runs for the Royals, who had five players tally two hits apiece.
Brian Dozier scored after each of his two doubles, and Trevor Plouffe took Duffy deep in the seventh to take over first place on the ballpark’s all-time home run list with 36. But the Twins needed four pitchers to finish a six-run eighth inning by the Royals, who did their damage on only two singles to accompany three walks, two hit batters, an error and a passed ball.
Hunter was charged with a throwing error in the sixth, too, letting a run score on another shaky day for Minnesota’s defense. Shortstop Danny Santana let a bases-loaded ground ball bounce out of his glove with no outs, allowing another run.
Royals: Alex Rios was hit on the left hand by J.R. Graham’s first pitch in the eighth. He stayed on base and eventually scored but was removed as a precaution for Jarrod Dyson on defense in the bottom of the inning.
Twins: RHP Casey Fien, who has logged only one inning this season because of shoulder stiffness, was available to pitch, general manager Terry Ryan said. The setup man threw in the bullpen before the game.
There’s no game Tuesday, with the series resuming Wednesday night.
Edinson Volquez will take the mound for the Royals, looking to match a sparkling debut with his new team. The right-hander needed only 95 pitches to finish eight innings and beat the White Sox last week. He has faced the Twins only once, in 2007 when Joe Mauer homered against him in a no-decision at the Metrodome.
Kyle Gibson will start for the Twins, coming off a rough first turn at Detroit. The right-hander equaled his career high with five walks and failed to record a strikeout for the third time in 42 major league starts. Gibson, however, has beaten the Royals more than any other team, carrying a 3-0 record and 1.40 ERA in three starts against them.
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