KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Salvador Perez celebrated his selection for the All-Star Home Run Derby in the most appropriate way possible.
The Kansas City catcher swatted a pitch from Twins starter J.A. Happ that was nowhere near the strike zone into the right-field stands Friday night, his solo shot triggering a big comeback for the Royals. They tied the game later in the second inning, pulled ahead on Hanser Alberto's two-run shot in the third and went on to a 7-4 victory over Minnesota.
“That wasn't even close to a strike,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli marveled afterward. “That's not a pitch that's normally hit out, but that's not where the ball was intended, either.”
Perez's 20th homer of the season changed the entire complexion of the game for Kansas City.
Brady Singer had spotted the Twins a 3-0 lead in the first inning, and the young starter was pulled after three. But the Royals bullpen allowed one run and three hits the rest of the way. Richard Lovelady (1-0) got his first major league win with two scoreless innings, and Scott Barlow handled the ninth for his third save of the season.
“It's incredible,” Lovelady said. “It really is.”
So is ending a nine-game skid before a crowd of 31,824 fans, the largest of the season at Kauffman Stadium.
“That was as good a crowd as we've had,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “We're down three and they were still into it. I think it plays into it. Nothing like coming home when you’ve been on a bad run and you give them something.”
J.A. Happ (4-4) took the loss for Minnesota. The 38-year-old left-hander gave up the homers to Perez and Alberto along with Carlos Santana's RBI single in the fifth before departing. Happ wound up allowing six runs — five earned — and nine hits in a disappointing follow-up to a solid start in Cleveland.
“We came out with some energy and got out early, obviously, hoping to keep that and hoping to add on and you know, just have a more comfortable game than it was,” Happ said, “but you know, it didn't happen for me.”
The Twins did manage to get a run back against Jake Brentz in the sixth. But they squandered a chance for more after they loaded the bases with nobody out. Luis Arraez grounded into a double play to score only one run, and Josh Donaldson struck out to leave a runner stranded on third base.
The Royals tacked on another run in the eighth while sending Minnesota to its fourth straight loss.
“When you do get some momentum going and then give it back, whether it be the beginning of the game or any time — it's big to put runs on the board and put up zeros after that,” Baldelli said. “That's something that can really get everyone going and then you have something to build off and really create some separation, and we didn't do that.”
The Twins signed Joe Harvey and assigned him to Triple-A St. Paul. The right-hander had a 2.63 ERA in 15 games for Triple-A Albuquerque before Colorado designated him for assignment late last month. He made his big league debut in 2019 for the Yankees and pitched in four games for the Rockies last season.
HEADED FOR TOKYO
Royals outfielder Bubba Starling was chosen Friday for the U.S. team for the Summer Olympics. The former first-round pick made his big league debut in 2019 and appeared in 35 games for Kansas City last season. He was hitting .271 with seven homers at Triple-A Omaha. The Olympic team is due in Cary, North Carolina, for workouts beginning next week.
The Twins have not announced their starter for Saturday's matinee. The Royals are going with left-hander Danny Duffy (4-3, 2.44 ERA), who is coming off a shaky performance in Boston in which he allowed three homers in a no-decision.
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