KANSAS CITY -- As auditions go for the 2019 Royals rotation, right-hander Heath Fillmyer added a bit more to his resume on Thursday night.A week after getting roughed up by the Twins for six runs in 2 1/3 innings, Fillmyer came back strong against these same Twins, going a career-high
KANSAS CITY -- As auditions go for the 2019 Royals rotation, right-hander Heath Fillmyer added a bit more to his resume on Thursday night.
A week after getting roughed up by the Twins for six runs in 2 1/3 innings, Fillmyer came back strong against these same Twins, going a career-high 7 1/3 innings in the Royals' 6-4 win at Kauffman Stadium.
Fillmyer also gave up three runs to the Twins in a three-inning start in early August.
"My first two starts against them didn't go too well," Fillmyer said. "I kinda wanted to give everything I got and redeem myself in a way. I definitely wanted this one, for sure."
Fillmyer made one mistake early, a fastball down and in to Jake Cave in the second inning. Cave golfed a two-run shot to right-center and the Twins had a 2-0 lead. From there, Fillmyer gave up just one more hit until he reached the eighth, when he allowed a double and a single.
"He threw the ball really well," Royals manager Ned Yost said of Fillmyer. "We wanted to get him through the eighth, but he started to labor. I hesitate to call this a mistake, but he made one -- he was trying to go down and away to Cave and pulled it and left it middle-in."
Unfortunately for Fillmyer, the Royals' bullpen allowed both runners to score to put a smidge on his line as he was charged with four runs overall. But he tied a career high with six strikeouts.
Meanwhile, the Royals' speed took advantage of some sloppy Twins defense in the fifth. With Whit Merrifield on first and two outs, Raul Mondesi sent a hard grounder to shortstop Jorge Polanco. The ball caromed off Polanco's glove and into short right-center, which started the merry-go-round -- Merrifield scored all the way from first and Mondesi sped to third.
The Royals took the lead with a four-run sixth, sparked by back-to-back home runs from Salvador Perez (No. 25) and Jorge Bonifacio (No. 3). Perez's home run was a two-run shot.
"He continues to improve as a power hitter," Yost said. "He gets better every year. That was a huge hit for us to give us the lead."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Twins, having already scored two runs in the eighth inning to pull to within one at 5-4, had two runners on and two out when recently acquired left-hander Jerry Vasto was called on to face Cave. Vasto fed Cave a steady diet of sliders and got Cave to ground out to second, preserving the lead.
"He's from New Jersey, so I know he'll be fine," said Fillmyer, another New Jersey native.
Added Yost, "What we've seen from Vasto is he is definitely a strike thrower. He attacks the zone and gets ahead in the count. That inning was really starting to go sideways."
• Willians Astudillo takes piggyback ride in the dugout
Right-hander Jorge Lopez (2-4, 3.72 ERA) takes the mound for the Royals in the second game of the series against the Twins at Kauffman Stadium at 7:15 p.m. CT. Right-hander Jose Berrios (11-11, 3.83) will pitch for the Twins. Last Saturday against Minnesota, Lopez became the first Royal in franchise history to carry a perfect game into the ninth inning. Lopez lost the perfect game, the no-hitter and the shutout, but still got a 4-1 win.
Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.