MINNEAPOLIS -- Robbie Grossman and Max Kepler belted two-run homers to help power the Twins to an 8-4 win over the Royals on Sunday in the nightcap of a doubleheader at Target Field. With the split, Minnesota improved to 7-1 against Kansas City and has won all three series this season between the American League Central rivals.
Salvador Perez clubbed two homers for Kansas City, including a two-run blast that opened the scoring in the first, after hitting a two-run shot in the Royals' 6-4 victory in Game 1. However, Grossman and Kepler answered in the bottom of the first. Both home runs came off Royals starter Ian Kennedy, who lasted just two innings and allowed five runs on three hits in his return from the disabled list.
"We could have very easily won two out of three here," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "So just go play baseball, man. Take it day by day."
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Left-hander Adalberto Mejia earned his first career victory -- firing seven innings of three-run ball with three strikeouts and two walks. Chris Gimenez hit his first home run with Minnesota, taking Christopher Young deep to lead off the fourth. According to Statcast™, Gimenez's solo shot traveled a projected 353 feet from the plate with an exit velocity of 102.7 mph. Eric Hosmer recorded his fourth homer of the year with a solo shot in the eighth.
"It felt good," Mejia said. "I felt like I had more confidence. I went to Triple-A to work on my mechanics and I felt like it worked. I just concentrated more on the strike zone."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Walks and homers: Kennedy struggled to locate his pitches in his first inning of action since May 4. He walked the leadoff batter before serving up a two-run shot to Grossman. The right-hander then walked the next batter and surrendered another two-run blast to Kepler. Kennedy threw just 51.9 percent of his 54 pitches for strikes. Since 2015, his lowest strike percentage in any outing was 57.5.
"It's frustrating, because you don't feel it, but your timing is off and your mechanics are off," Kennedy said. "Everything was off, and next thing you know, you give up two home runs in the first inning. It's just frustrating."
Kepler's gems: The Royals were unable to start a potential rally in the sixth, despite making good contact. Kepler displayed his defensive prowess, to rob Hosmer and Perez of potential extra-base hits. According to Statcast™, Hosmer's hit had a 61 percent hit probability while Perez's was 88 percent. The catches were rated 3-star and 2-star, respectively.
"Kep had a great day," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "He hasn't had a lot of experience out there. But he responded. He made a nice read on the ball he came in on and had good field presence to be able to leap and make that catch in front of the wall."
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Perez's two homers in the nightcap capped an impressive day at the plate. He hit three home runs in all, matching Bill Pecota for the franchise record in a doubleheader. More >
Royals: Left-hander Jason Vargas is slated to start the opener of four-game road series against the Yankees on Monday at 6:05 p.m. CT. Vargas -- who will be seeking his first career victory against the Bombers -- gave up a season-high six runs across four frames in a loss to the Yanks on Wednesday.
Twins: Right-hander Kyle Gibson will be recalled from Triple-A Rochester on Monday to start the opener of a three-game series against the Orioles at 6:05 p.m. CT. The Twins placed right-hander Phil Hughes on the disabled list with shoulder discomfort following Sunday's nightcap.
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