The Twins' Eddie Rosario and Miguel Sano have seen Royals starter Brady Singer three times in the last three weeks.
They must have learned how to hit him hard.
Rosario hit a three-run homer in the first inning, Sano sent a pitch an estimated 458 feet off the home team's Hall of Fame in left field, and Minnesota beat Kansas City 7-2 on Saturday night to even their three-game series.
“When we see pitchers like that back-to-back, we study them and we just try to go out there and execute against them,” Rosario said. “As a team, we showed tonight we can do damage when we get pitchers like that.”
Randy Dobnak (5-1) pitched five innings of two-run ball, continuing his brilliant start to the season. The former undrafted free agent, who just three years ago was pitching for the independent Utica Unicorns, gave up a homer to Alex Gordon but otherwise kept dodging trouble on a hot, humid night at Kauffman Stadium.
Singer (1-3) allowed four runs and six hits in four innings while trying to flummox a team already familiar with him.
“They had a good game plan against him, coming right out of the box swinging well,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “We've all been talking about this for several days. He was going to face them three times and would he mix it up enough to keep them off balance a third time? That's definitely a challenge but that's how the schedule lined up.”
After the Royals jumped on the Twins with four runs in the first Friday night, it was Minnesota's turn to strike early. Max Kepler hit a leadoff double, Jorge Polanco singled and Rosario hit Singer's biggest mistake into the right-field fountain.
Sano made it 4-0 when he crushed a pitch to left field, a home run that rivals one hit by Albert Pujols with the St. Louis Cardinals more than a decade ago for the longest to that part of the ballpark.
“You know, the funny part of that, I didn't hit it that well,” Sano said. “If I got all of it, I would have hit it over it.”
Meanwhile, Dobnak was keeping the Royals off the scoreboard until the fifth, when Gordon sent a one-out pitch over the wall in center. That finally gave Kansas City some momentum: Cam Gallagher and Whit Merrifield added two-out singles and Nicky Lopez guided an RBI double down the left-field line to make it 4-2.
Dobnak escaped the jam when he speared Hunter Dozier's line drive right back up the middle.
The Royals' last chance to pull ahead came on a series of miscues in the sixth. Alex Avila was called for interference when his catcher's mitt was nicked by Jorge Soler's bat, then Ryan McBroom singled before Gordon was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Tyler Duffy responded by striking out Adalberto Mondesi and pinch hitter Ryan O'Hearn to end the threat.
In a strange coincidence, Avila also was called for catchers' interference on Soler's previous at-bat.
The Twins put the game away with three runs off Ian Kennedy in the seventh.
“Guys came together. We got great efforts on both sides of the ball from the very beginning of the game,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We had really quality at-bats, hard-hit balls and a couple that left the yard.”
The Twins purchased the contract of left-hander Danny Coulombe and recalled right-hander Sean Poppen before the game. Both relievers had been on the four-man taxi squad that made the trip to Kansas City.
Twins: RHPs Jake Odorizzi (bruised ribs) and Zack Littell (right elbow inflammation) went on the injured list after getting hurt in the series opener. RHP Homer Bailey was moved to the 45-day injury list after a setback in his recovery from right biceps tendinitis. “Most teams are dealing with rosters that don’t necessarily look like they looked on opening day,” Baldelli said. “Some of these teams — and we want to be in this group — just go out there and play."
Royals LHP Kris Bubic (0-3, 5.12 ERA) will try again for his first win when he makes his fifth career start and second in a row against Minnesota. He allowed two runs over 4 1/3 innings in a loss Monday. The Twins have yet to announce their starter because of their injuries.