KANSAS CITY, MO. – Somewhere between Fort Myers and Kauffman Stadium, Sonny Gray said Saturday, "I kind of lost my stuff."

Turns out, he can get by without it.

Gray put runners in scoring position in four of his five innings against the Royals, but each time, he wriggled out of trouble without a run. The Twins bullpen dominated the final four innings, and finished off the first back-to-back shutouts to open a season in franchise history.

"How can you not be pleased with not giving up any runs?" manager Rocco Baldelli said. "Pitching and defense, and I couldn't be happier."

Gray, however, could. After an exceptional spring, he was bothered that he issued four walks, three of them in the third inning to load the bases. Still, he said, he was proud to extend the Twins' scoreless streak.

"I remember thinking out there, 'No damage done. No damage. … You're fine. Just dismiss it and go on,' " Gray said.

He got out of that bases-loaded situation, perhaps the critical at-bat of the game, with a little help from Franmil Reyes. The designated hitter took too long to get set in the batter's box, and umpire Brian Knight called a clock violation — strike one. Reyes struck out, ending the inning, after Gray threw just two strikes.

"It's 0-1 and you can start kind of expanding the zone a little earlier than maybe you would have. He saw one less pitch throughout that," Gray said. "it was kind of a nice little, 'Oh, it's 0-1!' "

Gallo at first

Joey Gallo was signed mostly as an outfielder, but with Alex Kirilloff on the injured list, he's more or less the everyday first baseman until Kirilloff returns.

And that's not a bad thing, Baldelli said. "It's probably early for this, but I think he has every opportunity to be the best first baseman in the American League," he said. "As I watch him move around out there, his feet and his target and how comfortable he is, and his understanding of what's going on on the field, it's a position that comes reasonably naturally to him."

Gallo was a third baseman as he came up through the Rangers' system; nearly 85% of his minor league starts came at the position, so "he's pretty comfortable in the infield," Baldelli said. "He's probably as much an infielder as he is an outfielder. I have high expectations for his defensive play over there."

Repeat performance

During spring training, in discussing how much flexibility the Twins' many multi-position players give him, Baldelli said "you might not see the same lineup out there two games in a row."

It took him exactly two games to prove himself wrong.

"I did say that, didn't I?" Baldelli said. "I guess that's the way it works."

Saturday's batting order was exactly the same as in Thursday's season opener, the first time since April 8 and 10, 2021 — the first two home games of that season — that Baldelli had written out identical lineup cards in consecutive games.

In fact, Saturday's game was only the fourth time in his five seasons as Twins manager that the lineups have carried over in back-to-back games. It will remain rare, Baldelli said.

"We're going to see guys moving around, we know that," Baldelli said. "It's not a goal one way or the other to keep the lineup the same, or to switch it up. I don't enjoy switching it up. [Keeping it the same] in games one and two made sense."


• The Royals held a moment of silence in honor of Mike Radcliff, the longtime Twins scouting director and vice president of player personnel and a Kansas City native who died in February. The Twins plan to reserve a "scout seat" at their home opener on Thursday in Radcliff's honor.

Tony Wolters hit a two-run homer, Chris Williams, Ryan LaMarre and Matt Wallner added solo shots and the Saints beat host Toledo 6-1 for their first victory of the season. Four Saints pitchers combined on a three-hitter.