Smiling Soler HRs twice as offense heats up

Salvy, Lopez also go yard in come-from-behind W to back Duffy

August 9th, 2020

KANSAS CITY -- It took a while for the Royals to get their offense cranking in 2020, but it’s hitting on all cylinders now.

Two nights after scoring 13 runs in a win over the Cubs, the Royals erupted with four home runs and 12 hits in a 9-6 victory over the Twins on Saturday night at Kauffman Stadium.

did much of the damage, with two long home runs for his fourth and fifth this season. Soler’s first blast, a solo shot in the third inning, went an estimated 440 feet per Statcast. His second shot was a three-run jack in the fourth that went an estimated 448 feet. It was the 15th time a player has had multiple home runs in the same game that each went at least 440 feet since Statcast began tracking in 2015.

“My goal is to get him to smile one time coming around third,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said of Soler’s stoic nature. “It’s got to be fun to be able to do that.”

Soler, smiling, said through interpreter Luis Perez, “[Matheny] has told me multiple times to smile a little bit more. I don't like to smile a lot. I don't want to disrespect anybody at all."

Soler almost had a three-homer night -- he flied out to the warning track in center field in the sixth inning.

“In 90 percent of the parks,” Matheny said, “that’s a home run.”

Soler’s three-run homer was part of a six-run fourth inning that erased a 4-2 deficit after ran into trouble. Minnesota had wiped out a 2-0 Royals lead with a four-run fourth. It was the type of comeback Matheny has wanted to see.

“It knocks the wind out of you when you give up a lead,” Matheny said. “You never know how your team will respond. But we saw that fight. We saw it in that game in Chicago where we came back but lost. Just a different style of at-bats. ... You go on a skid like we did, and you start to doubt. You have to fight that off. Keep doing your piece and then hand it off to the next guy. That inning could sink most teams, when you give up four, but what a way to respond.”

Added Soler: "We took a stand and we decided to go out there and fight. We put a bunch of hits together, and scoring all those runs was a big stand."

hit a two-run homer in the inning, his first, and followed Soler’s blast with his third homer this season.

Lopez didn’t start much early in the season, but he has become a regular contributor lately.

“Obviously, I know skip has a goal in mind for me, and I just have to do what I can to succeed,” Lopez said. “I said this earlier, that he sees me as an everyday player, whether that’s me starting or coming in late with situational hitting or playing defense. I told him I would be the best everyday player I can be. Wherever he puts me, I’m just happy to contribute.”

Lopez’s home run was the third of his career and first at spacious Kauffman Stadium.

“It’s good to see a ball go out of the yard,” Lopez said. “The guys were giving me some [flak] because my first two home runs -- one was in [Omaha,] Nebraska, so they said it was just a college home run ... It’s good to get one at a big-boy ballpark.”

Duffy started for the Royals and breezed through three scoreless innings, striking out four, but he ran into trouble in the fourth. He hung a 1-2 changeup to Nelson Cruz, who hammered it out for his fourth homer this season.

Then with two outs, Duffy gave up a single and a walk. He then left a 3-2 slider over the middle of the plate and Byron Buxton belted it over the Royals’ bullpen in left for a three-run homer and a 4-2 Twins lead.