KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Kauffman Stadium has been a tough venue for the Twins to have success in, and it took a big offensive afternoon to get out of town with one win.
The Twins held off the Royals 9-6 on Sunday behind a season-high 18 hits, with Jorge Polanco and Johnny Field leading the way with four apiece. Both each hit a home run as four Twins went deep in the game, tying a season high.
“We needed most of them,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said, “wins have been tough to come by on the road.”
Yes, the Twins snapped their eight game road losing streak with the win. They also ended an eight-game losing streak at Kansas City. The Twins are just 18-39 at Kauffman Stadium since 2013 and lose this year’s season series 9-10.
The Twins scored three runs in the fourth to take a 5-2 lead, on back-to-back homers by Tyler Austin and Field and an RBI single by Robbie Grossman, who on Sunday celebrated his 29th birthday. But Kansas City scored a run in the bottom of the inning then got a two-run homer from Aldalberto Mondesi in the fifth that tied the game.
Molitor stuck with righthander Kyle Gibson, who had given up five runs by the fifth. Gibson felt he was making pitches - he didn’t walk a batter for just the second time all season - but not getting the desired results.
“I probably threw strikes better than I have thrown in a long time,” Gibson said.
Gibson ended up pitching 62/3 innings and the Twins came up with two runs in the sixth and two in the ninth to take care of business. Taylor Rogers ran his scoreless innings streak to 22 with 11/3 innings of work, and Trevor Hildenberger pitched the ninth, giving up a run.
“It’s only one game,” Molitor said, “but it feels a lot better than the alternative of getting swept out of here.”
Sano getting close
Miguel Sano feels he’s getting closer to returning to the starting lineup, and he knows what role he wants to be in when he does.
“I want to play third base,” Sano said. “I don’t like to DH. I want to finish strong and see what happens.”
Sano was out on the field before Sunday’s game, getting some running in as he becomes more and more comfortable with his left leg after injuring it Sept. 4 when he slid into second base at Minute Maid Park. It was the same leg in which a titanium rod was inserted during the offseason, so it looks like Sano had cleared a mental hurdle in his recovery.
“When I slid into the base, I hit my rod,” Sano said. “The MRI said nothing was wrong but I still felt pain.”
That pain has subsided, and Sano said he’s pushing himself harder to prove he can play during the series against the Tigers at Comerica Park.
Twins manager Paul Molitor has no problems with that, and added that Sano looked pretty good while running on Saturday.
“It’s possible,” Molitor said of Sano heading right to third base without easing in as a designated hitter first. “DH is crowded now. Watching him take grounders, I think he’s moving fine. And I don’t think it would be an issue. In fact, I think it would be one of his more comfortable things he’s doing right now in terms of confidence.”
Twins catcher Mitch Garver, recovering from a concussion, looked better on Sunday, Molitor said. While remaining cautious because of the unpredictable nature of the condition, Molitor expressed hope that Garver could play sometime during the upcoming series in Detroit. Garver took a foul ball off his facemask on Wednesday, which was eventually diagnosed as a concussion. He’s spent the last two days working out lightly at Kauffman Stadium before heading back to the team hotel to recover.