The Twins might not have as much thunder and lightning as they did a week ago, but for one night, they had plenty. Too much, in fact.
A noisy storm kept interrupting, and there was almost as much time spent drying the field as playing on it. But when the rains ceased, Minnesota’s offense poured. Eight players in the Twins’ lineup collected hits, the ninth drew three walks, and the Twins shrugged off the weather, the standings and the disappointment of a season gone awry by beating the Royals, 6-4 at Target Field.
As games go, it was a rain-soaked mess, but it was at least an effective rejoinder to Paul Molitor’s pregame musing about the challenge ahead for his team, now absent Brian Dozier, Eduardo Escobar, and three pitchers, all jettisoned in exchange for minor leaguers.
“It’s a little different trying to put the lineup together without those guys,” the Twins’ manager said. “We’re trying to find good combinations to give us the best chance to score. But I still think we’ve got enough guys in that lineup, potentially, who can contribute.”
Sure looked like it Friday, albeit against a last-place team and a pitcher who’s been in the big leagues for six weeks. Heath Fillmyer, a 24-year-old rookie, struck out the side in the first inning, but his luck ended there.
The Twins strung together four hits and a walk in the second inning, with Miguel Sano hitting a rocket off third baseman Hunter Dozier’s glove and into left field, a two-run double. Joe Mauer delivered an RBI single, scoring Sano.
“We’re seeing progress,” Molitor said of Sano, who’s been back with the Twins, after a six-week minor-league sabbatical, for a week. “We talked a lot about when he went down, in addition to getting after it physically, that he had to get better at pitch recognition and some of those type of things. We’ve seen that somewhat. You’re just looking for consistency.”
They got it from plenty of spots. Eddie Rosario singled twice and scored both times. Jorge Polanco singled and doubled, the second hit scoring a run just before the second shower hit. Max Kepler walked three times, twice in the middle of rallies.
And Logan Forsythe, the lone big-leaguer among the package of players acquired in trade, collected a single, a walk and an RBI groundout.
For consistency, though, Target Field has hardly seen any better than Salvador Perez, the Royals’ All-Star catcher. Perez clobbered a knee-high splitter from Jake Odorizzi into the bullpens in center, a third-inning blast that narrowed the Twins’ early lead to one run. It was Perez’s 16th career home run in Minneapolis’ downtown ballpark, breaking a tie with Edwin Encarnacion for most by a visitor in the stadium’s nine-year history.
Perez, who leads the majors in throwing out runners, also cut down Kepler trying to steal second in the seventh, ending a Twins threat.
The Royals actually took the lead briefly after the first delay, a 91-minute pause highlighted by several loud thunder cracks and an impressive lightning display.
Gabriel Moya, who took over for Odorizzi once the tarp was removed, allowed four straight singles, including a run-scoring hit to center by Alex Gordon, and then a go-ahead sacrifice fly by Lucas Duda.
The Twins answered quickly, though, and retook the lead when KC reliever Brian Flynn walked Jake Cave with the bases loaded, forcing in Logan Morrison. An inning later, Polanco doubled as the rain fell, adding an insurance run just before the game was halted for another 54 minutes.