The Beatles sang the line “Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends” and that was certainly true on Friday night at Target Field.
The Twins gave Stephen Gonsalves a 2-0 lead, and he helped give it back three-fold before the offense struck again, leveling the score and building from there in a 10-6 win over the last-place Kansas City Royals.
The game resembled everything one might expect from two teams who are combined nearly 50 games out of first place. The pace was slow, the defense was ugly and the pitching was…well it was completely out of the picture for a fair part of the night for each side.
But it was the Twins bullpen of all units that righted the ship.
Gonsalves departed after just 2.1 innings — a mark matched by his counterpart Heath Fillmyer, who allowed six earned runs to the lefty’s five — but other than Alan Busenitz allowing a three-run homer, it was smooth sailing the rest of the way for Twins relievers.
Gabriel Moya, Trevor May, Matt Magill, Taylor Rogers and Trevor Hildenberger tossed a combined six scoreless innings, fanning four batters, walking three but allowing just three hits. In fact, it was May — who was credited with the win — who allowed all three hits in his two innings of work.
Still, it was a good “back-on-the-horse” outing for May after he gave up four earned runs as the opener on Tuesday in Houston, as he dropped his season ERA to 3.63.
May has been absolutely terrific since returning from Tommy John surgery, fanning 24 batters against just three walks in 17.1 innings. Regardless of whether he ramps up as a starter or slots into the back end of the bullpen, he’s clearly put himself back on the map for whatever the Twins are doing pitching-wise next season.
The Twins struck first blood in the second inning, with Ehire Adrianza singling up the middle to score Logan Forsythe and Mitch Garver. Gonsalves, who had allowed a baserunner in each of the first two innings but incurred no other damage, hit a snag in the third.
Cam Gallagher opened the inning with a fly ball to Eddie Rosario in left, but then the Royals went single, walk, double, walk, single and that led to the end of the night for Gonsalves, who as a 24-year-old was making just his fourth big-league start.
With two on and one out, Salvador Perez took Busenitz deep into the bullpens in left-center to give the Royals a 6-2 lead, and it appeared as though the Royals were going to continue their season-long stretch of being a thorn in the Twins’ collective proverbial side.
“Stephen’s still having trouble showing enough command with his pitches to give him a chance to be a little bit more successful,” manager Paul Molitor said. “The extra baserunners, some mistakes and getting behind kind of caught up with him there. So we couldn’t go too long.”
Despite winning just 46 games to this point in the season, the Royals have won six of 13 games against the Twins, and that includes Minnesota winning the last four meetings after it was clear neither team was threatening to play meaningful baseball in the dog days of summer.
In fact, it was Kansas City whom the Twins simply couldn’t beat earlier in the year. The Twins started the year 3-6 against the hapless Royals, and Kansas City is also where Byron Buxton’s season ultimately came to an end as far as the big-league team is concerned. He was placed back onto the disabled list with a great toe fracture in late May, and as things stand now, won’t reappear in the big leagues with the Twins until the calendar reads 2019.
Nevertheless, the Twins offense went to work, and tied things up in the bottom half of the third inning. Jorge Polanco opened things up with a bunt single, and the first four Twins reached against Fillmyer, as Rosario followed with a single, Forsythe singled and Jake Cave doubled to left-center to put the tying run on second base.
Mitch Garver grounded to short to score a run, and Cave scampered home when Perez couldn’t corral a pitch up in the zone from Fillmyer, just before the righty gave way to Kevin McCarthy out of the bullpen.
The Twins tacked on three runs in the fifth, starting with Forsythe reaching on an Alcides Escobar error at third base. Cave followed with a single to right, and took second on an ill-advised throw home from Jorge Bonifacio.
Garver again grounded to short to score a run, and Max Kepler and Ehire Adrianza — who had three hits on the night — followed with a single of his own to give the Twins a 9-6 lead.
“It was nice to see us come back,” Molitor said. “I don’t know how many unanswered runs we ended up scoring there, but it was a good run.”
For good measure, Rosario — making his first appearance since leaving the Aug. 30 game against Cleveland with a strained quad — cracked a first-pitch home run off Wily Peralta to open the eighth inning and cap the scoring for the evening.
Hildenberger retired the Royals in order in the ninth to give the Twins their 64th win of the year.
- The Twins improved to 40-29 at Target Field with the win, and 7-6 against the Royals this season.
- Six of the Twins’ seven wins against Kansas City have come at Target Field.
- Polanco’s bunt single was his third of the year — a team-high.
- The Royals are six losses away from 100 on the season with 19 games left.