Royals remain unbeaten with 12-3 romp over Twins
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Kansas City has picked up right where it left off. Behind some torrid hitting and an impenetrable bullpen, the Royals are the only unbeaten team left in the majors.
Danny Duffy pitched into the seventh inning and Kendrys Morales homered in a 12-3 romp over the Minnesota Twins on Monday, moving the defending AL champions to 7-0 for the second-best start in Kansas City's history behind the 2003 club that won nine in a row to begin the season.
"There's a great mix here of young and veteran players that feed off each other," Morales said. "The young players got a lot of energy, which helps the experienced players. It's a real good clubhouse."
Detroit was the only other undefeated team left until a 5-4 loss at Pittsburgh earlier in the day.
Duffy (1-0) went 6 1-3 innings, giving up three runs. He is 4-1 with a 2.37 ERA in his career against the Twins and is undefeated in four starts at Target Field.
"It's a long season," Duffy said. "Obviously you hear that every day, but we're just kind of keeping it all in front of us."
The Twins were better off with a put-it-all-behind-them approach.
"We didn't play Twins baseball. I don't know what we played. Bad News Bears baseball, I guess," right fielder Torii Hunter said. "Just got to do better."
The Twins lost their fourth straight home opener, though they still packed the place with an over-capacity crowd of 40,123 on a 61-degree day. Hunter tipped his helmet to acknowledge the standing ovation during his first at-bat, but the cheers were scant the rest of the afternoon.
The Twins used four pitchers in a six-run eighth by the Royals, who did their damage on only two singles to accompany three walks, two hit batters, an error and a passed ball. Shortstop Danny Santana let a bases-loaded grounder bounce out of his glove with no outs.
Hunter was charged with a throwing error in the sixth, too, letting a run score. New manager Paul Molitor has so far had his hands full.
"We're trying to find a way to put an offense together that's a little more consistent. So far it really hasn't clicked too well," Molitor said.
The Royals have sure been rolling. Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain on his 29th birthday and Eric Hosmer each drove in two runs for Kansas City, which had five players tally two hits apiece. Manager Ned Yost was asked afterward what has stood out from his team's strong start.
"Their energy. Their focus. Their intensity," Yost said. "They're just a real confident group."
The bullpen hasn't been scored on yet, either, with 21 strikeouts in 19 innings.
Morales, who failed to hit a home run in 67 plate appearances at Target Field during his stint with the Twins last summer, sent an 0-1 pitch from Trevor May (0-1) in the second inning into the upper deck above right-center field.
The scary part for the rest of the league is that the Royals, last in the majors in home runs last season, have gone deep 10 times already. Salvador Perez has nine RBIs and Alex Rios and Cain each have eight. The Twins have 14 total RBIs; no one has more than two.
NO REST YET
One of Yost's stated priorities this season was to limit Perez's workload, after the All-Star catcher's production waned during the playoffs last year. He hasn't had a day off yet, along with every other regular but left fielder Alex Gordon.
Royals: Rios was hit on the left hand by J.R. Graham's first pitch in the eighth. He eventually scored but was removed as a precaution in the bottom of the inning and sent for X-rays. Yost said he was encouraged by the strength test Rios took and believed he would be all right.
Twins: RHP Casey Fien, who has logged only one inning this season because of shoulder stiffness, was available to pitch.
There is no game Tuesday, with the series resuming Wednesday night.
Edinson Volquez will take the mound, looking to match a sparkling debut with the Royals. The right-hander has faced the Twins only once, in 2007 when Joe Mauer homered against him in a no-decision at the Metrodome.
Kyle Gibson will start for the Twins, coming off a rough first turn at Detroit. Gibson has beaten the Royals more than any other team, carrying a 3-0 record and 1.40 ERA in three starts against them.