The Twins scored seven runs off relievers Trevor Oaks and Burch Smith, which turned a laugher into a nail-biter. But Royals reliever Kevin McCarthy came on and retired all four hitters he faced, restoring some order, while Tim Hill retired both hitters he faced.
Nervous times for Royals manager Ned Yost.
"I think we can find a bunch of words for it," Yost said, shaking his head. "We just couldn't slow them down. We weren't throwing strikes. We weren't throwing down in the zone. We were leaving balls up. They kept adding on and adding."
Yost did not want to have to use McCarthy, who had appeared in three of the four previous games, but Yost said he had no choice.
Hunter Dozier socked his first career homer in the seventh, a laser shot into the left-field corner that Statcast™ measured at 111 mph.
The home runs by Dozier and Soler gave the Royals an 11-8 cushion.
"It was quite refreshing and relaxing for us," Yost said, grinning.
Earlier, a lot of eyes were on Royals right-hander Brad Keller, who was making his first Major League start and his first since he was in the Minor Leagues last season. Keller, who was on a 50-60 pitch count, fired three efficient innings, giving up three hits and one run while striking out three. He threw 51 pitches and likely will be stretched out to 70-75 pitches in his next outing.
"It was good, first time starting in a while," Keller said. "Nerves were a little high in the first inning. I was just trying to settle down and get my bearings."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED The Royals' bullpen was reeling in the sixth inning as Smith gave up three runs and left with two out after a two-run double by Miguel Sano made it 9-7. In came left-hander Brian Flynn, who walked the first hitter he faced and then gave up a bloop RBI single that made it 9-8. Then with the potential tying and lead runs on second and third, Flynn struck out Max Kepler on a 3-2 four-seamer. The Twins didn't threaten again.
"If I'm not mistaken runners were at second and third," Yost said, "so that was huge right there. We got the out when we needed it."
HE SAID IT "I don't know. But our fans love us and I know dogs love us, too." -- Yost, when asked pregame how many dogs he thought would be in the stadium for "Bark at the Park" night
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY Soler thought he had his eighth home run of the season in the second inning. His drive hit off the top of the left-center-field wall and first appeared to hit a fan and bounce back in the ballpark. But after a crew-chief review, it was determined the ball hit the corner of the top padding and bounced back in the park for an RBI double. But Alex Gordon singled in Soler and the Royals got the run anyway.
"I have no idea how that ball bounced back," Yost said.
UP NEXT After an off-day on Thursday, right-hander Ian Kennedy (1-5, 5.15 ERA) will start as the Royals return to action on Friday at 7:15 p.m. CT to open a three-game set with the A's at Kauffman Stadium. Kennedy permitted two runs and five hits over five innings in a loss to the Rangers on Saturday. Righty Frankie Montas (1-0, 1.50) will start for the A's.