By Dave Skretta
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
KANSAS CITY, Mo. _ Kyle Gibson threw eight innings of four-hit ball, Danny Santana and Eduardo Escobar had RBI triples, and the Minnesota Twins beat the AL Central-leading Kansas City Royals 2-0 Thursday night.
Gibson (6-6) stranded a pair of runners in the eighth before turning the lead over to Glen Perkins, who remained perfect in 26 save attempts. Perkins is two saves shy of matching Eddie Guardado (116) for third-most in Twins history.
The Royals’ Chris Young (7-4) dodged trouble for most of 5 1/3 innings, the only run he allowed coming on a triple by Santana in the fifth. The big, lanky right-hander turned over a 1-0 deficit to the game’s best bullpen, but his offence was unable to bail him out.
It was a good way to start the four-game set for the second-place Twins, who dropped four of their first six on a 10-game road trip.
Kansas City has lost four straight. Two of them have been shutouts.
The fact that the Royals were even in the game was surprising. The Twins collected five extra-base hits _ including the run-scoring triples _ and had runners advance three times when Young threw a pitch that got away from Royals catcher Salvador Perez.
Then again, all Minnesota needed was a run against the slumping Royals.
Two of Kansas City’s four hits were bunts against the shift, and the hardest-hit ball _ a single by Lorenzo Cain in the fourth _ led to the most frustrating frame of the night: Kansas City went on to load the bases before Perez struck out looking to end the inning.
Not that it should have been surprising that Gibson shut them down.
The former University of Missouri star came into the game with 4-2 record and 2.68 ERA in six starts against the Royals. Even in a relatively poor start against them in June, when he took the loss at Target Field, Gibson’s sinker still drove the Kansas City hitters to fits.
Just as it did again on Thursday night.
Miguel Sano, one of baseball’s top prospects, made his big league debut for Minnesota. The power hitter from the Dominican Republic was the designated hitter and beat out an infield single for his first career hit in the ninth inning.
Twins: RHP Ricky Nolasco received another opinion on bone chips in his right ankle, but no decision has been made on a course of treatment. … CF Byron Buxton (sprained left thumb) is still dealing with swelling, though manager Paul Molitor said he is improving.
Royals: 1B Eric Hosmer (sprained right ring finger) was back in the starting lineup. … LHP Jason Vargas (left flexor strain) threw 40 pitches in a simulated game. He’ll throw 60 pitches on Tuesday. “It was very encouraging,” manager Ned Yost said.
Twins: Molitor officially announced that RHP Ervin Santana will return from his suspension to start the series finale Sunday. LHP Tommy Milone takes the mound Friday night and RHP Mike Pelfrey gets the start Saturday.
Royals: RHP Jeremy Guthrie tries to continue his dominance Friday at Kauffman Stadium, where he is 2-1 with a 1.88 ERA over his last four starts.