MINNEAPOLIS — Eduardo Escobar homered and drove in four runs and Miguel Sano added a bases-loaded triple to lead the Minnesota Twins to a 9-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday.
Hector Santiago (1-0) gave up one run and four hits and struck out four in five innings for the Twins. After starting last season 0-9 to set the stage for a miserable 103-loss season, the Twins are 2-0 for the first time since 2007.
Ian Kennedy (0-1) gave up three runs and three hits with five strikeouts and five walks in five innings for Kansas City. Paulo Orlando drove in the lone run for the Royals, who walked nine Twins batters on the day.
After scoring six runs in the seventh inning of their season-opening win over the Royals on Monday, the Twins put another six on the board in the seventh on Wednesday.
Sano broke the game open with his triple that almost cleared the high wall in right-center field and Escobar’s three-run drive just reached the seats in left field.
Kennedy couldn’t find the strike zone, walking three in the Twins’ three-run second inning. That followed a season opener on Monday in which Royals pitchers walked seven Twins hitters, a troubling sign for a team that had its title defense done in last season in large part to a lackluster starting rotation.
Jason Castro, a catcher not known for offensive prowess, was walked a career-high four times by three different Royals pitchers.
Royals: Alex Gordon was hit on the right hand by a pitch from Santiago in the first inning, but remained in the game after being examined by team athletic trainers. He went 0 for 3.
Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer might have had the play of the day in the sixth inning when Eduardo Escobar sent a line drive screaming toward him. Hosmer got his glove on it, but the ball popped out. Hosmer snared the ball with his throwing hand, but had to do a bit of a juggling act before securing it and stepping on first to double up Juan Castro.
Twins center fielder Byron Buxton is being counted on to have a breakout season after looking overmatched at times at the plate last season. Manager Paul Molitor is hitting Buxton third in the order, a spot generally given to one of the team’s top hitters.
The early returns have not been promising. He has struck out six times in 10 at-bats with just one infield single.
After selling out the opener on Monday, the Twins announced a crowd of 15,171 for Game 2 on an overcast day in which the temperature at first pitch was a cool 47 degrees. It’s the smallest crowd announced at Target Field and indicative of a fan base skeptical of the team’s chances after minimal changes were made to a roster that lost 103 games last season.
Royals: RHP Jason Hammel will make his debut for the Royals in the series finale against the Twins.