Friday, April 17, 2015

Mauer, Twins crown Royals for series victory

Kennys Vargas and Kurt Suzuki both connected on two-run homers, while Joe Mauer added three RBIs to help lead the Twins to an 8-5 win over the Royals on Thursday afternoon at Target Field. It gave the Minnesota its first series win of the season, and handed Kansas City a second straight loss after a 7-0 start.
Left-hander Tommy Milone improved to 2-0, allowing three runs on seven hits and three walks over 5 1/3 innings. He served up a two-run homer to Lorenzo Cain in the first, but Milone settled in after that. The Royals scored their third run off Milone in the third on an RBI double from Salvador Perez to score Cain.
"The guys had my back, especially scoring right after they scored in the first inning," Milone said about the offense. "You get that breath of fresh air, and go back out there and try to battle and keep your team in the game."
Milone outlasted fellow lefty Jason Vargas, who gave up five runs (four earned) on 10 hits over just three-plus innings for his shortest start since July 20, 2011. Vargas opened the scoring for the Twins with a two-run blast to left in the second before they added two more runs in the third and another in the fourth. Mauer had an RBI groundout in the third and a RBI single to right field in the fourth.
"I thought I executed the pitch pretty well," Jason Vargas said. "It was inside. Sometimes you just got to tip your cap to the other guy."
Suzuki provided two late insurance runs with a two-run shot off reliever Chris Young in the eighth. It was the first homer of the year for Suzuki, and the first runs allowed by a Royals reliever this season after 23 1/3 scoreless innings. Mauer picked up his third RBI on a sacrifice fly to center to cap the scoring for Minnesota.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Vargas crushes first homer: With the Twins down 2-0 in the second, Kennys Vargas crushed a two-run blast off Jason Vargas to tie the game. It was the 10th career homer for the switch-hitting Vargas, but just the second from the right side. It was a sign of things to come for the Twins, who set season highs with eight runs and 14 hits. More >
Vargas said he even heard from Royals first-base coach Rusty Kuntz about the line-drive homer, which hit off the facade of the upper deck in left field.
"He told me, 'Wow. I've never seen that,'" Vargas said.
LoCain rocket: Royals center fielder Cain hit just five homers in 133 games last year. He hit his second in nine games this season, a scorching liner down the left-field line measured at 363 feet. The first-inning homer scored Mike Moustakas, who had singled, and gave the Royals an early 2-0 lead. Cain also singled, stole a base and scored in the third. He doubled in a run in the ninth.
Twins take advantage of miscues: Danny Santana and Torii Huntersparked a two-run third inning that gave the Twins the lead with a leadoff single and a ground-rule double, respectively, but the offense was helped out by Kansas City's defense. Santana scored on an RBI groundout by Mauer, but Hunter scored the go-ahead run on a throwing error from third baseman Moustakas. Minnesota added to its lead with a run in the fourth on a bases-loaded single to right from Mauer on a ball that was trapped by right fielderJarrod Dyson as he tried to make a sliding catch. More >
"Those aren't easy plays, but they are plays we normally make," Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Frasor's magic act: After Jason Vargas left with the bases loaded in the fourth inning already down 5-3, it seemed the Royals were about to get blown out. But right-handed reliever Jason Frasor came in the game and got a lineout, and then induced Kennys Vargas to tap into a 1-2-3 double play.
"In that situation, I'm really hoping that [Frasor] can keep it to a three-run game," Yost said. "But he did a phenomenal job to get us out of there still down two."
QUOTABLE
"That was a bullet. I was in awe. I didn't see David Ortiz hit nothing like that. That was impressive. I'm glad to see him start to come around and swing the bat well and be that threat we know he can be." -- Twins right fielder Torii Hunter, on Vargas' homer
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Kennys Vargas' home run off Jason Vargas got out in a hurry, and had an exit speed off the bat of 113 mph, which ranked as the third-hardest-hit homer this season, according to data recorded by TrackMan.
AND THERE'S THIS …
The two-run homer by Suzuki marked the first two runs off the Royals' bullpen this season, after a streak of 23 1/3 innings.
WHAT'S NEXT
Royals: The Royals return home on Friday at 7:10 p.m. CT to launch a six-game homestand starting with three against the Oakland A's in a rematch of last year's incredible Wild Card Game. Right-hander Jeremy Guthrie (1-0, 5.14) takes the hill after beating the Angels in his first outing this season.
Twins: Right-hander Mike Pelfrey is slated to take the mound for the Twins on Friday at 7:10 p.m. CT, when they begin a three-game series against the Indians. Pelfrey showed good velocity in his first outing of the year, reaching 96 mph with his fastball, but he was ultimately hurt by a pair of homers. The right-hander gave up four runs on seven hits over five innings in a no-decision against the White Sox.

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