KANSAS CITY, MO. – Nothing like having good neighbors come to your aid in a time of need.
Throughout these first two months, each time the Twins’ season hits major turbulence, a friendly AL Central also-ran shows up to help turn things around. When the Twins were reeling through a 2-11 April skid, the White Sox obligingly offered themselves up for three consecutive victories. When the Twins lost three of four games on their last homestand, the Tigers dropped by to drop a couple of games. And Monday, fresh off a deflating sweep in Seattle, the Twins arrived in steamy Kauffman Stadium to take advantage of the reeling Royals pitching staff.
Miguel Sano hit his first homer in more than a month, Brian Dozier drove in a run for only the second time in two weeks, and Eddie Rosario collected more RBI with one swing than in the past 14 games combined, propelling the Twins to an 8-5 victory over their fourth-place Royals buddies.
“Offensively, we needed a night like tonight, where everything fell our way,” Dozier said after collecting three hits, two of which didn’t travel very far or fast but were important nonetheless. His second hit was a looping liner with two outs that fell in front of right fielder Jorge Soler and broke a 2-2 tie — “just a flare out to right, it works. Just put it out there on the green grass.”
It was the opposite experience from their weekend misfortune, where line drives were snagged and towering blasts died in front of the wall. Sano went 1-for-10 in Seattle, even though he hit about 1,000 feet of foul balls and warning-track fly outs. So when he saw a 1-1 middle-of-the-plate fastball from Jakob Junis on Monday, he was relieved to watch it soar.
“I’ve been hitting the ball good the past couple of days, but they don’t want to go out,” said Sano, whose two-run blast was his first homer since April 25. “I’ve been trying to pick my pitch and just hit it hard, and today one finally went out. It’s good. Maybe it’s changing.”
All the offense — the Twins had 12 hits, their most since May 4 — certainly changed the outcome. The Twins scored six total runs in their past four games, but equaled that in only eight innings, when Rosario hit a soft, two-out, broken-bat liner up the middle with the bases loaded. By the time Soler reached the ball and tossed it to second base, Rosario beat the throw. And in trying to tag Rosario, the Royals neglected to notice Dozier racing home — he ran about twice as far as the ball traveled — to score from first.
“Some aggressive baserunning, we get three runs on the play,” manager Paul Molitor said. “… That one set up perfectly.”
So did the schedule, as Kansas City is the majors’ worst home team at 7-19. Lance Lynn had persistent trouble keeping runners off base, giving up six hits and three walks in six innings, but the Twins were able to nick Junis for three runs, then tack on five more against the league’s least-intimidating bullpen.
The Twins surrendered three runs late, too. But Fernando Rodney, called upon in the eighth inning for the first time this season, recorded four outs to earn his 11th save, and his team got to celebrate for a change.
“You’re just kind of looking for a spark. Sometimes you’re going to catch a few breaks,” Molitor said.
Or, as Dozier put it, “Crazy game — no buzzard’s luck.”