By Rhett Bollinger and Jeffrey Flanagan
MINNEAPOLIS -- The biggest hit of the night barely made it to the outfield grass.
Catcher Salvador Perez floated a bases-loaded, two-run, broken-bat flare just over the head of Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe that put the Royals up for good in the fifth inning as they went on to pick up a 7-3 win over the Twins on Friday night at Target Field.
Twins second baseman Brian Dozier remained red hot. He socked a two-run homer off Ventura in the third for his seventh homer in his last 13 games. He also singled in the sixth.
"There was a lot to like [about Ventura]," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He had seven strong innings. Made a mistake to Dozier, opened up a little and it was down and in and Dozier hit it out. But everything was in control. He did a good job with his pitch count (105). Really good breaking ball, good changeup for the most part. He stayed within himself really well. Nice performance."
Twins starter Kyle Gibson wobbled through five-plus innings. He gave up 10 hits, six runs (five earned) while walking two and striking out four.
"It's a pretty frustrating start but that's kind of how it's been for me," said Gibson, who fell to 4-7 with a 5.09 ERA. "I made a couple pitches in big spots and it doesn't work out. I made too many mistakes and left too many balls up at the wrong times as well. They made me pay for them."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Slumping Sal comes through: Trailing 3-2 in the fifth, the Royals opened the inning with singles from Paulo Orlando and Cheslor Cuthbert. Lorenzo Cain hit into a fielder's chioce but then stole second. Eric Hosmer, who doubled in a run in the first inning, struck out on a changeup from Gibson. Kendrys Morales then walked. That brought up Perez, who promptly swung at the first two pitches that bounced in front of the plate. Gibson threw two more pitches that bounced, but Perez didn't bite. Perez then got jammed and shattered his bat, but floated a blooper for a two-run single.
"He got me out with fastballs the first two times up," Perez said. "Then he started me with sliders away. I had to stay away from them. Then he threw me a fastball inside and I broke my bat."
Did Perez think he hit it over Plouffe's head?
"Oh yeah. I hit it good," Perez said, laughing.
Added Yost, "Those are the type of breaks that haven't been going our way much but did tonight."
Sano, Dozier continue power surge: Sano got the Twins on the board with a solo shot off Ventura in the second, giving him his fifth homer over his last seven games and his 20th of the year. Dozier leads the Twins with 24 long balls on the year. More >
"He's joined the 20-homer club for the first time, which is worth noting and Dozier has been on a tear," Twins manager Paul Molitor said "He did a nice job staying on a changeup there. But it's unfortunate that's been the majority of our output there. With runners in scoring position and those opportunities are areas that still need improvement. We like the home runs and they play, for sure, but we need to find other ways to score."
Big Ken, Big Night: Royals designated hitter Morales was a pain to the Twins all night. Morales reached base all four times, walking twice, singling and drilling his team-leading 19th homer in the seventh. Morales belted a waist-high fastball to deep right-center off left-hander Pat Dean.
Plouffe's error costly: With two outs in the first, Cain hit a grounder to Plouffe, but the third baseman made an errant throw to extend the inning. Hosmer followed with an RBI double to give the Royals an early lead. Plouffe also couldn't get to Perez's bloop two-run single in the fifth that gave the Royals a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
"He hit it into no-man's land," Gibson said of Perez's bloop hit. "He found a hole with a popup and just found the right spot."
WHAT'S NEXT Royals: Right-hander Dillon Gee (4-5, 4.54 ERA) will get the start on Saturday night even after he threw 32 pitches in Wednesday's 14-inning win. In his last start on Aug. 5 against the Blue Jays, Gee gave up three runs in six innings -- his only quality start as a Royal. First pitch is set for 6:05 p.m. CT.
Twins: Right-hander Tyler Duffey (7-8, 5.93 ERA) is set to start for the Twins in the second game of the series on Saturday. Duffey is coming off a strong start, limiting Houston to one run over six innings on Monday.