KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Mike Moustakas helped the Kansas City Royals take a nine-run lead in the second inning. They nearly gave it all away.
Moustakas homered, doubled and drove in four runs in the first two innings, Jorge Soler went 4 for 5 with a home run, but the Royals nearly blew the big lead before holding on for a 11-8 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday night.
Moustakas’ double in the first scored Jon Jay and Alcides Escobar. Moustakas’ 12th homer was a towering two-run shot in the second that just made it into the front row of the right-field seats and barely fair.
According to Statcast, it had a 46-degree launch angle, the highest in the majors this season, and carried 339 feet.
“I knew I hit it good, but I just wasn’t sure if it would stay fair and if it was going to go far enough,” Moustakas said. “That was a high one for sure.”
The Royals sent 11 men to the plate in a seven-run second to build a 9-0 lead. Soler nearly had a two-run homer in the inning, but after a review it was changed to a run-producing double. The second inning also included Ryan Goins’ two-run triple.
Every Royals starter had scored in the first two innings, but it almost wasn’t enough.
“We just couldn’t slow them down,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “We weren’t throwing strikes. We were leaving balls up. They just kept adding on, adding on, adding on.”
The Twins chipped away at the Royals’ lead, including bases-empty home runs by Brian Dozier and Ehrie Adrianza in the fifth and sixth innings, respectively.
“We fought back and then getting right back in the dugout,” Dozier said. “We were right where we needed to be as far as momentum shifting our way. We just couldn’t capitalize on it.”
Miguel Sano hit a two-run double in the Twins’ four-run sixth and scored on Eduardo Escobar’s two-out single, cutting the Royals’ lead to 9-8. Brian Flynn then struck out Max Kepler to end the sixth with runners on second and third, preserving the Royals’ lead.
Sano had a RBI single in the third and has hit in 17 consecutive games against the Royals with 30 RBIs in that span.
Hunter Dozier led off the Kansas City seventh with his first career home run. Soler homered in the eighth for his fourth hit, matching his career high.
Kevin McCarthy (4-2), the fifth of seven Kansas City pitchers, retired all four batters he faced and earned the victory.
“I didn’t want to use McCarthy today,” Yost said. “He’s been in four out of five, but we were at the point we had to. He came in and did a phenomenal job.”
Kelvin Herrera protected the lead with a spotless ninth for his 12th save.
Twins rookie right-hander Fernando Romero (3-2) retired only five of the 15 batters he faced. Romero allowed eight runs and nine hits, a walk and a sacrifice fly. His ERA jumped from 1.88 to 4.15.
“They were jumping me from the first pitch,” Romero said. “They were just hitting everything.”
Jay singled in the seventh to extend his hitting streak to 12 games. Jay finished May with a .368 average and leads the majors with 43 hits in the month.
ONE MORE OUT
Several Royals players began walking off the field in the fifth after turning a double play. The only problem was there were only two outs.
Twins: RHP Aaron Slegers was recalled from Triple-A Rochester. He came in after Romero’s early exit and allowed two runs and six hits over 5 1/3 innings. The Twins optioned Slegers back down to Rochester after the game.
Royals: RHP Trevor Oaks was recalled from Triple-A Omaha. He gave up three runs and five hits and a walk over 1 2/3 innings in his second big league appearance.
Twins: CF Byron Buxton (fractured left toe) went back on the disabled list with the toe still impeding his game. … RHP Ervin Santana (hand) was recalled from his minor league rehab assignment with swelling and having trouble gripping the ball. He will be re-examined.
Royals: RHP Blaine Boyer (strained back) was placed on the 10-day disabled list. Boyer was 2-0, but had an 11.76 ERA in 20 relief appearances.
Twins: RHP Jake Odorizzi is the scheduled starter as the Twins open a four-game series with AL Central leader Cleveland at Target Field. RHP Shane Bieber will start for the Indians, making his big league debut.
Royals: They have Thursday off before beginning a three-game series Friday with Oakland. Kansas City RHP Ian Kennedy will start the opener.