Moustakas, Moss HRs help Royals edge Twins 7-6
MINNEAPOLIS — Pulling out a one-run victory in the series opener in Minnesota had the Kansas City Royals feeling good despite the game being closer than hoped when closer Kelvin Herrera entered in the ninth inning with a three-run lead.
The Twins simply lamented a missed opportunity after nearly pulling out another big comeback. The mood of each team showed their resulting stance in the standings.
Mike Moustakas hit a three-run homer and Brandon Moss added a two-run shot as Kansas City took the first game of a pivotal weekend series against Minnesota with a 7-6 win.
“We’ve played a lot better baseball today than we did the last week or so,” Moustakas said. “Maybe a little to take some stress off the boys, and me too. Definitely was a good one.”
Melky Cabrera added four hits for the Royals, who trail the Twins by 3 1/2 games for the second wild card in the American League. Kansas City won for just the second time in eight games and snapped the Minnesota’s four-game win streak.
Jason Hammel (7-10) held the Twins in check after a tough start and lasted 6 1/3 innings, surrendering four runs and seven hits.
Herrera allowed two runs in the ninth on Joe Mauer’s single before leaving with a trainer with low forearm tightness in his pitching arm. Scott Alexander struck out Eddie Rosario to leave the bases loaded and secure his second save.
“It’s a big win. we needed this game,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “For him to come in in that circumstance again and get us out of it like he did was tremendous.”
Dillon Gee (1-2) had another short start, going just 2 2/3 innings while giving up five runs, six hits and three walks for the Twins.
“I didn’t have a feel for much,” Gee said when asked about his curveball. “Fastball command was bad too; a lot of balls leaking over the middle of the plate.”
Brian Dozier had two hits and scored two runs for Minnesota, which was coming off a sweep of the Chicago White Sox after a ninth-inning rally on Thursday.
The Twins kept their momentum going early, scoring twice in the first inning.
Dozier led off with a double and Jorge Polanco continued his hot stretch with a long homer to the second deck in right field.
Gee stranded two runners in the first and then couldn’t escape the third. Alcides Escobar led off with a double, Lorenzo Cain hit an RBI single and Cabrera lined an RBI double to the left-field wall.
Two batters later, Moustakas hammered his 36th homer of the season, a three-run shot.
The homer was his first in 13 games and tied Moustakas with Steve Balboni for the most home runs in a season in Royals history. Balboni set the mark in 1985.
“I’m not really thinking about it too much,” Moustakas said. “Once it got to 35, it kind of started creeping in my head a little bit. But that’s when I tried to do a little too much. Today, I was kind of relaxed and tried to put a good approach together.”
Minnesota got a run back in the bottom of the inning when Polanco’s sacrifice fly scored Dozier.
Moss’ 18th homer of the season in the sixth proved to be important insurance for Kansas City after the Twins rallied late.
“It was a good fight,” Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said. “We hung in there until the last round and made it interesting. One little knock away and it’s good to see that. Almost for the second day in a row to pull something out like that.”
NOTES: Minnesota had a retirement ceremony for former closer Joe Nathan, who signed a one-day contract before the game to retire as a member of the team. Nathan is the franchise career leader with 260 saves in seven seasons. ... Minnesota CF Byron Buxton was out of the lineup for the second straight game with a hand contusion, but he entered in the ninth inning as a pinch-runner and hit in the cage earlier. ... Kansas City called up five players as rosters expanded for September: OFs Terrance Gore and Paulo Orlando, INF Raul Mondesi, C Cam Gallagher and RHP Andres Machadao. The Royals also transferred LHP Brian Flynn to the 60-day disabled list, reinstated RHP Trevor Cahill from the 10-day DL, claimed RHP Sam Gaviglio off waivers from Seattle and released RHP Neftali Feliz. ... The Twins recalled LHPs Buddy Boshers and Nik Turley along with INF Niko Goodrum.