MINNEAPOLIS — Kennys Vargas reached the end of the bench, where he was met by fellow Puerto Rican Eddie Rosario. The two hugged and then started dancing in a circle while embracing.
Vargas started a late-inning celebration for the Minnesota Twins on Friday.
Vargas launched a tying, two-run homer in the ninth inning and Jorge Polanco hit a sacrifice fly in the 10th, lifting Minnesota over the Kansas City Royals 4-3 on Friday night.
“I know I put a pretty good swing and I got that one,” Vargas said.
Polanco lofted a soft liner to left field and Joe Mauer beat Alex Gordon’s throw to the plate. Al Albuquerque (0-1) walked the first two batters of the inning and reliever Travis Wood walked Max Kepler, loading the bases with no outs for Polanco.
Brandon Kintzler (2-0) allowed two hits in the top of the 10th, but snagged a comebacker to start an inning-ending double play.
“You welcome those comebacks when they happen because in today’s game, with the bullpens the way they are, seems like they’re less and less frequent around the game,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “We stayed with it and gave ourselves a chance.”
Vargas pinch-hit for Byron Buxton following Jason Castro’s one-out single in the ninth. Vargas sent Kelvin Herrera’s 1-0 changeup into the second deck in right-center field. It was Herrera’s second blown save in 10 chances this season.
“Yeah, I didn’t finish that pitch,” Herrera said. “In my mind I want him to chase the pitch, but he got power. It was poor execution.”
Vargas was recalled from Triple-A on April 23 and is tied for second on the team with five home runs despite playing just 17 games.
Robbie Grossman added a solo homer for Minnesota, which is 6-0 against Kansas City this season.
Kansas City starter Nate Karns allowed one run on five hits and struck out three. The right-hander tallied at least 10 strikeouts in his previous two outings and struck out 12 in just five innings last week against Baltimore. But the patient and contact-heavy Twins made him work.
He was pulled after five innings and 72 pitches after he experienced some stiffness in his pitching arm.
“It was kind of something I kind of had to work with today,” Karns said. “It was kind of there from maybe late-second, from there on through the game. It was one of those things every time I went out there it was harder to kind of get it going. It’s nothing alarming or anything, just a cautionary move. Maybe on in the year I could grind through and keep going. Right now we just want to make sure everything is all right, and we shut me down at that point.”
BONIFACIO’S BIG NIGHT
Jorge Bonifacio had two hits, including a two-run homer for the Royals. He also had an outfield assist and made a jumping catch at the wall in right to take away an extra-base hit from Brian Dozier.
“It’s amazing, trying to save the runs for the pitcher,” Bonafacio said. “That’s what we can do out there, trying to make a play.”
Royals: RHP Ian Kennedy is scheduled to be activated from the 10-day disabled list to start Saturday’s game. He has been sidelined since May 5 with a right hamstring strain. The team hasn’t decided on a corresponding move and is waiting to activate Kennedy with poor weather in Minnesota threatening.
Twins: LHP Glen Perkins threw 15 to 20 pitches in the bullpen before the game as he tries to make his way back from a left posterior shoulder strain.
Kennedy (0-3, 3.03) will be countered by Minnesota rookie LHP Adalberto Mejia (0-1, 5.79). The Twins haven’t added Mejia to the active roster yet, either. Mejia is currently at Triple-A Rochester. He made the rotation out of spring training but was optioned out after three starts. He is 0-1 with a 3.48 ERA at Rochester.