Royals let their three-run lead slip in 5-4 loss to Twins
MINNEAPOLIS — C.J. Cron drove in the go-ahead run for Minnesota with a sixth-inning double, making Jake Odorizzi the second 10-game winner in the majors this season and capping a 5-4 comeback victory by the Twins over the Kansas City Royals on Saturday night.
Jorge Soler sent Odorizzi (10-2) and the Twins to an immediate deficit with a towering two-run homer in the first, measured at 462 feet, and Whit Merrifield's solo shot started a two-run fifth inning that ended with a 4-1 lead for the Royals.
The Twins have the most homers in baseball, though, not to mention the lead in several other batting categories. With a solo drive by Max Kepler in the fourth and a two-run smash from Marwin Gonzalez in the fifth, they surged back against Royals starter Glenn Sparkman (1-3). Five batters later, Jorge Polanco tied the game with a double that finished a rally fueled by a fielding error on third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert.
Eddie Rosario drew a leadoff walk in the sixth, bringing reliever Scott Barlow into the game. Gonzalez singled, Cron doubled and the Twins (47-22), who have the best record in the majors, were on their way to their 22nd win in their last 29 games.
They played in front of their fifth sellout crowd of the season, thanks to the pregame ceremony for Joe Mauer's uniform retirement.
The Royals, who left nine men on and went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position, had the bases loaded with one out in the third but didn't score. The leadoff man took second base to start the eighth inning but was stranded. Then in the ninth, the Royals had runners at first and second, but Soler flied out to shallow center field to end the game and give Rogers his eighth save in 10 attempts.
With four runs allowed, Odorizzi, who is one of a half-dozen or so strong Twins candidates for the All-Star game next month, surrendered as many in this start as he had in his previous eight turns.
Merrifield, his teammate in 2011 with the Class A Wilmington Blue Rocks, had hits in all three of his at-bats against his old friend. The 29-year-old right-hander, who made his major league debut with the Royals in 2012, saw his ERA rise from 1.92 to 2.24. Still, he finished six innings for the third straight start and kept the Twins within striking distance when the game could've gotten out of hand.
Royals: 1B Lucas Duda remained hitless in two games since returning from a back injury that sidelined him for nearly two months, but his sacrifice fly in the fifth was his first RBI since April 16.
Twins: CF Byron Buxton was held out of the lineup with a bruised right wrist after being hit by a pitch the night before. Manager Rocco Baldelli said Buxton was available to pinch run or play defense, but he was unsure yet when he could swing a bat at full strength.
Royals: RHP Jakob Junis (4-6, 5.35 ERA) takes the mound for the series finale.
Twins: LHP Martín Pérez (7-2, 3.97 ERA) pitches on Sunday afternoon.