KANSAS CITY -- Hot-hitting Miguel Sano drove in five runs, three on his seventh home run, and the Twins handed the Royals their ninth straight loss, a 7-5 decision on Sunday at Kauffman Stadium in a game that was delayed one hour and three minutes from the start due to
KANSAS CITY -- Hot-hitting Miguel Sano drove in five runs, three on his seventh home run, and the Twins handed the Royals their ninth straight loss, a 7-5 decision on Sunday at Kauffman Stadium in a game that was delayed one hour and three minutes from the start due to rain.
The Royals' losing streak is their longest since April 2012, when they lost 12 straight. The Royals finished April at 7-16, their worst April also since '12 when they went 6-15.
Royals manager Ned Yost said he has been startled by the team's sluggish start, adding, "Without a doubt, you don't anticipate this. You don't anticipate getting off to this kind of start. Coming out of Spring Training, we thought we'd get off to a good start."
Sano, who homered and drove in four runs in Friday's win, erased a 2-0 deficit with a blast into the left-field bullpen in the third inning off Royals starter Jason Hammel. Sano now has 14 RBIs against the Royals this season.
"My first at-bat, I didn't see the ball very good so I put on my sunglasses," Sano said. "I watched video on the computer and his last pitch was a fastball away. In my second at-bat, I knew he'd try to go with the fastball inside and I was able to pull the ball."
For the second straight start, Hammel could not escape the fourth inning. He went three-plus and gave up six hits and five runs, his ERA ballooning to 6.65.
Twins starter Phil Hughes was marginally better, lasting 5 2/3 innings while giving up 10 hits and four runs.
"It was a good trip, winning four of five," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We won a couple series. Phil had another good day overall. He kept major damage down and Miggy got us back into the game after a couple of nice walks."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Pressly shuts the door: The Royals threatened in the sixth with back-to-back two-out singles, including an RBI single from Alcides Escobar to knock out Hughes and make it a two-run game. Reliever Thomas Pressly was brought in to get out of the jam, and got Whit Merrifield to fly out to center to end the scoring threat.
"It was big," Molitor said. "We know what he's capable of when he's throwing the ball well. Whenever he can get out there and bridge us from one inning to the next, I'm sure his confidence will grow."
Tough day defensively: The Royals, normally an elite team defensively, had some uncharacteristic miscues that didn't show as errors. In the Twins' two-run fourth, Hammel threw into the runner on Byron Buxton's bunt single, putting runners on first and second. And then, James Dozier was safe when second baseman Merrifield fielded a grounder and tossed to shortstop Escobar, who tried to run to the bag to get a force on Buxton, who was safe. The Royals passed on the easy out at first. The Twins then scored on a bases-loaded groundout by Max Kepler and a single by Sano.
"I just needed to definitely go to first base there and get the out," Merrifield said. "I thought we could get the lead runner, but that's on me."
"Just throwing too many pitches every at-bat. It's ridiculous. It's amateur stuff I'm doing right now. I got some work to do." -- Hammel
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain homered for the first time this season, his first home run since Aug. 26, 2016, a span of 96 at-bats. He missed most of September due to injury.
Twins: After an off-day on Monday, right-hander Ervin Santana will start the first game of a three-game series against the A's on Tuesday at Target Field. Santana (4-0, 0.77 ERA) is the first Twins pitcher to post a sub-1.00 ERA through the first five starts of a season.
Royals: Left-hander Jason Vargas (3-1, 1.40) will take the mound for the Royals on Monday at Kauffman Stadium when they open a four-game set with the White Sox at 7:15 p.m. CT.
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Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, **Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter [@RhettBollinger](https://twitter.com/RhettBollinger)** and listen to his podcast.