A little time off didn’t slow Nelson Cruz.
Cruz homered and drove in five runs to help the Minnesota Twins beat the Kansas City Royals 11-9 on Friday night.
With the team’s prior three games being in Miami, Cruz, the team’s designated hitter, was limited to two pinch-hit plate appearances.
“In that situation, I wasn’t able to play. You just make sure you’re fresh when you get a chance to play,” he said.
And continue to stay hot.
In his last eight starts, Cruz has eight home runs among his 15 hits and 18 RBI.
“I don’t get caught up in what happened in the past or what’s going to happen tomorrow. Focusing on a daily basis,” he said.
Others can rave about his performance.
“There aren’t many people in the game that can have those types of at-bats on a fairly consistent basis and put up those runs of games and at-bats where he’s just squaring everything up,” said manager Rocco Baldelli.
Cruz, who crushed a pitch into the second deck in left field in the first, broke a 6-6 tie in the seventh inning with a two-run double off the scoreboard in right-center field. The ball hit about 5 feet lower than his RBI double in the fifth, which was a couple feet from clearing the wall.
Miguel Sanó, Luis Arraez and Jason Castro added RBIs in the inning for an 11-6 lead.
Trevor May (4-3) needed one pitch to get the final out of the seventh inning before newly acquired Sam Dyson struggled for the second straight game. Dyson allowed three runs in the eighth before Sergio Romo got the final four outs for his first save with Minnesota. Acquired last Saturday, Romo had 17 saves in 18 attempts for the Marlins.
After four straight outs, Richard Lovelady (0-1) allowed Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco to get on base to open the seventh.
Kepler, Polanco and Eddie Rosario each had two hits for the Twins, three games up on Cleveland in the AL Central.
Hunter Dozier had his first career multi-homer game and Cam Gallagher hit a solo shot for Kansas City, losers of four straight and seven of eight.
“We had some really, really good at-bats, but unfortunately so did they,” said manager Ned Yost.
Down 4-1, Dozier homered leading off a two-run fourth. His solo shot in the fifth inning made it 5-4 Royals and came three batters after Gallagher homered to start the frame.
Minnesota starter Martin Pérez allowed seven hits and five earned runs in five innings. A balk also allowed a runner to score.
Glenn Sparkman allowed six earned runs on six hits in 4 2-3 innings for the Royals. In his last three starts, the right-hander has allowed 18 earned runs in 15 1-3 innings after his first career shutout July 16 against the White Sox. In seven road starts (0-4), Sparkman has a 9.08 ERA. His ERA is 3.00 in six home starts (3-3).
MERRIFIELD MOVING UP
Whit Merrifield had three hits. The Kansas City right fielder has played 134 straight games without back-to-back hitless efforts, surpassing Ron LeFlore (1978-79) for the second-longest streak in the American League since 1946, according to Sportradar. Ichiro Suzuki holds the record at 180 games from 2008-09.
Twins LHP Lewis Thorpe was optioned to Triple-A Rochester after the game. A corresponding move will be announced Saturday.
Twins: CF Byron Buxton was scratched with left shoulder soreness. Buxton crashed into the wall in Thursday’s loss in Miami. Listed as day-to-day, he’ll be reassessed Saturday. . On the injured list since July 21 with right thumb inflammation, 1B C.J. Cron finished a two-game rehab assignment Friday morning in a Gulf Coast League game. Baldelli expects him to be playing in a Twins game “pretty soon.”
Minnesota RHP Kyle Gibson (10-4, 4.10), who was 2-0 with a 3.77 ERA in six July starts, is scheduled to face Kansas City LHP Danny Duffy (5-5, 4.42) Saturday. Duffy is 2-0 with a 3.50 ERA in his past three starts, going six innings in each turn.
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