MINNEAPOLIS — — Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco and Jose Miranda homered as the Minnesota Twins stayed hot at the plate with an 8-6 win over the Kansas City Royals on Friday.

Kansas City loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth inning, but Jorge López struck out Nick Pratto on a full-count pitch for his second save.

Salvador Perez had three hits, including a home run, and two RBI for the Royals. Pratto added three singles and two RBI, and Edward Olivares doubled twice, tripled and scored three runs.

The Twins have scored 33 runs in their last five games after starting the season in an offensive slump. The three homers gave Minnesota 36 on the season, second-most in the American League behind the Rays.

“The home runs are a big part of it. They really are,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “But I think we’ve been pretty consistent in talking about the way that we’ve approached the at-bats and just the way that our at-bats have gone over the past week. That’s what leads into those kinds of really important big swings and guys driving the ball around the ballpark. It’s coming from laying off the pitches we don’t want to swing at, that we might have been swinging at earlier in the year but lately we haven’t.”

After the first pitch was delayed two hours by rain, Royals starter Jordan Lyles (0-5) gave up seven runs in four innings.

Minnesota right-hander Pablo López (2-2) struggled for the second straight outing but still pitched into the seventh for the third time in six starts this year. He allowed six earned runs while striking out seven.

In his previous outing last Saturday, López gave up five earned runs over four innings in a loss to Washington. It was his first start after the Twins signed him to a $73.5 million, four-year contract.

“I tried to search for something that wasn’t really there,” López said of his pitch selection. “Like the home run to Salvador, I called that pitch. I shook (catcher Christian) Vázquez right away to that pitch. Like I said, I just kept searching for it and the curveball wasn’t there, so it’s a mistake on me.”

Polanco’s second homer of the year, a three-run shot to right field, put the Twins on top 7-2 in the fourth. He started the season on the injured list with knee soreness, but is hitting .367 (11 for 30) with nine RBI since making his 2023 debut last Friday.

Kepler led off the bottom of the first with his third homer of the season. Miranda hit his third in three games leading off the fifth.

“It’s real nice to see the line moving, you know?” Kepler said. “Nobody’s too greedy. Nobody’s selfish. We rely on and trust the guy behind us to get the job done in whatever situation we’re in. It’s nice. When we play small ball, big things happen.”

Miranda’s drive gave the Twins an 8-2 lead, but the Royals wouldn’t go down quietly. In the sixth, Perez hit a long homer into the bullpen. Olivares then hit a two-out triple and scored on a single by Pratto.

Kansas City added two more runs in the seventh, keyed by Perez’s RBI single.

Royals manager Matt Quatraro was ejected for arguing balls and strikes in the eighth. He objected to a called third strike by umpire Jerry Layne with Michael Massey at the plate as the potential go-ahead run.


Michael A. Taylor brought home a run in the fourth for Minnesota with one of the shortest extra-base hits in baseball history. With Joey Gallo on third base and one out, Taylor laid down a perfect squeeze bunt in front of home plate. Perez, the catcher, fielded the bunt, but second baseman Massey was late covering first, forcing Perez to hold the ball.

Taylor then alertly sprinted to second base when he saw it had been left uncovered. The play was scored an RBI double for Taylor on a ball that didn’t reach the infield grass.

“Honestly, I didn’t see it,” Taylor said. “I stepped on first and our first base coach Hank (Conger) was telling me, ‘Go two, go two.’ All the credit goes to him. I was kind of just thinking about beating Massey to the bag. I didn’t realize there was nobody covering until he told me.”


Twins: RHP Kenta Maeda (triceps strain) will be shut down until his symptoms subside, according to trainer Nick Paparesta. Maeda is expected to be replaced in the rotation by RHP Bailey Ober, who was recalled from Triple-A St. Paul and will be activated to face the Royals on Saturday. … RHP Tyler Mahle was diagnosed with a posterior impingement of his right elbow and also won’t resume throwing until the soreness is gone.


Royals: RHP Brad Keller (2-2, 3.96 ERA) faces Minnesota on Saturday afternoon. Keller took the loss against the Twins on April 2 in Kansas City but is 2-0 in three road starts this season.

Twins: Ober (1-0, 1.59) made his 2023 debut on Sunday, pitching into the sixth inning in a win over Washington.


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