KANSAS CITY, MO. – Jose Miranda was the hero of the Twins offense in their 6-4 victory over the Royals on Friday night, ending an 0-for-20 drought with a single that ignited one run-scoring inning, and a double that drove home two insurance runs in the eighth. He did that while living with the looming, dreaded possibility that he will be optioned back to St. Paul as soon as Saturday, once Trevor Larnach returns from the injured list.

Think baseball roster decisions can't be that cold, can't wipe a celebration away? All Miranda had to do was look at his teammate — former teammate — Devin Smeltzer.

The lefthander "got a lot of high-fives in the high-five line," Rocco Baldelli noted after Smeltzer held Kansas City to one run over 5⅓ innings Friday, and he was smiling as he talked about recording his first victory in nearly two years.

Then pitching coach Wes Johnson asked Smeltzer to step into Baldelli's office. The pitcher wasn't smiling as he came out.

"This was not an easy one at all, the way he's been pitching. In a lot of ways deserves to be here," Baldelli said after notifying Smeltzer that he will be joining the St. Paul Saints again, starting Saturday. "He's giving us winning efforts. To look at a guy and give him news you know he doesn't want to hear, and in a lot of realities isn't going to hear …"

But "it's a move we basically have to make," Baldelli and the Twins front office determined, because Bailey Ober, who pitched a bullpen workout Friday, is ready to return and start against the Royals on Sunday. Smeltzer can still be demoted without having to clear waivers, making him the very definition of a tough-luck winning pitcher.

And he was terrific Friday, earning his fifth career victory, though he did it in an unusual way in this strikeout-heavy era. The lefthander faced 20 batters, walked one and watched the other 19 put the ball in play, becoming only the fifth Twins pitcher in the last decade to earn a victory without striking out a batter.

"Smeltz was excellent again. Couldn't ask for more of a winning effort from him," Baldelli said after Smeltzer lowered his ERA after two starts to 1.74. "He's helping us win ballgames right now, which is all he cares about, all we care about."

Well, he could probably think of another thing he cared about Friday, but Baldelli reassured him. "I expect to see him back here soon," he said.

Why not keep him around to pitch out of the bullpen? "That would be putting him in a spot where he's not ready to make upcoming starts," Baldelli said, "and we don't want to do that."

Meanwhile, the Twins offense looked strong again, with its Buxton-and-Correa Reunion Tour off to a great start. Two great starts, in fact.

Carlos Correa's second game back from the injured list and atop the Twins' lineup with Byron Buxton began just like the first one, with the shortstop triggering a first-inning eruption that spotted the Twins' starter a three-run lead before ever taking the mound.

Buxton led off the game with a walk against Royals lefthander Daniel Lynch, who shut out the Twins for five innings in April but was nowhere near as sharp in Kauffman Stadium. Correa followed with a single, so did Kyle Garlick to score Buxton, and Gary Sanchez smacked his fifth double in a week to add another.

A Gio Urshela sacrifice fly made it 3-0, and gave the Twins 27 first-inning runs this season, more than any AL team except the Angels.

But the Royals had narrowed the Twins' lead to 4-3 by the eighth inning, when Royals righthander Dylan Coleman issued a pair of two-out walks. That's when Miranda had the sort of at-bat they have been waiting for from the rookie. He took a strike, then jumped on a fastball on the outside corner, driving it deep into right-center field.

Two important insurance runs scored, and Miranda applauded himself, perhaps out of relief, on second base.

"I mean, I've been working these past days, a lot of stuff, grinding at the plate," Miranda said after the first two-hit game of his career. "Just seeing the results pay off, it felt great."

The manager enjoyed it too.

"You don't forget moments like that, I don't care how many games you play, how many hits you get. You remember big swings like that in big spots," Baldelli said. "And I think he'll remember that one."