Published November 20, 2014
A week ago, it probably would have been the Kansas City Royals explaining away another close loss in which nothing seemed to go their way.
Now, it's the Minnesota Twins.
Alex Gordon and Billy Butler each hit a two-run homer and Kansas City beat Minnesota 7-6 on Friday night, sending the Twins to their sixth straight loss and seventh in a row at home.
"We need something to lift us up," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We couldn't come up with the big hit. Same story, too many times right now."
Mike Moustakas delivered the go-ahead single in the eighth inning and Alcides Escobar added an RBI single three batters later for Kansas City, which had lost 12 straight before winning three in a row.
Trevor Plouffe homered for the Twins. Alexi Casilla had two hits and two RBIs, but Minnesota again struggled with runners in scoring position and dropped below the Royals for the worst record in baseball.
Jonathan Broxton struck out Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau for his third save in four chances.
"I think we're really close, we're right there," Plouffe said. "We're not happy. Make no mistake about it. This is not where we want to be right now. But you can't dwell on it."
Gordon gave the Royals an early lead with a 439-foot drive off Carl Pavano in the first. Butler's homer in the third made it 4-3 Kansas City.
In the second inning, Gordon leaped high above the left-field wall to rob Danny Valencia of a home run, snatching the ball out of the air right before it landed in a row of flowers just beyond the fence.
With the score tied at 5 and runners on first and second with nobody out in the seventh, Royals right fielder Jeff Francoeur made a diving catch on Ryan Doumit's line drive and doubled off Mauer at first base.
Gardenhire briefly argued with umpire Brian Gorman that Francoeur trapped the ball.
"I tried to explain that he had the glove to the ground, it's hard to catch a ball that way, but he said he caught it," Gardenhire said.
The play helped former Twins reliever Jose Mijares (1-1) wriggle out of a jam and get a win in his first appearance at Target Field since Minnesota let the big lefty leave as a free agent during the offseason.
Brian Duensing (0-2) allowed two runs in relief of Pavano, who gave up five runs — four earned — in 6 1-3 innings. Twins starters have just two wins and haven't won since April 18.
"My focus was to get us back on track. I didn't do my job," Pavano said. "The guys gave me a lead and I go out and give it up."
The Twins played without slugger Josh Willingham, who will rejoin the team on Saturday after spending three days on paternity leave.
Even without Willingham, the Twins have 26 hits in their last two games.
But after Casilla made it 6-5 with an RBI groundout in the eighth, Denard Span grounded out to first and stranded Plouffe at third to end the inning, the second consecutive inning Minnesota left a runner on third.
NOTES: To make room for Willingham, the Twins optioned OF Ben Revere to Triple-A Rochester. ... Twins 1B Chris Parmelee was back at the ballpark and available to play two days after being hit in the head by a fastball from Boston's Justin Thomas. Parmelee didn't have a concussion, but sinus pressure from the impact gave him a big shiner on his right eye. Gardenhire said the Twins wanted to give him another day to recover and ease him back in. "I'm just happy to be here smiling," Parmelee said. "Could be a lot worse." ... Mauer's triple in the first was his first since April 24, 2010. ... The Royals send Bruce Chen to the mound Saturday in the second game of the three-game series. Chen is 0-2 with a 2.52 ERA and went 1-1 with a 2.39 ERA in four starts against the Twins last season. ... RHP Jason Marquis starts for the Twins. The veteran signed with Minnesota in the offseason and is 1-0 with a 7.15 ERA in two starts.