Twins rout KC to maintain 2nd WC advantage

Twins rout KC to maintain 2nd WC advantage

MINNEAPOLIS -- Right-hander Kyle Gibson was backed by a potent offensive display, as the Twins rolled to a 17-0 win over the Royals on Saturday night at Target Field. It was the largest shutout in Twins history and the Royals' worst shutout loss.

Minnesota holds a 1 1/2-game lead over the Angels for the second American League Wild Card spot and is one game back of the Yankees for the first Wild Card, while Kansas City dropped to 4 1/2 games back. The 17 runs were the most allowed by the Royals this season.

"It was a nice response after a game where we came up a little short last night," manager Paul Molitor said. "One of those games where [you] give pretty much everyone a [game] ball tonight, because it was a team effort across the board."

Twins' six-run 2nd inning

The Twins gifted Gibson with 10 runs in the first two innings, including a four-run opening frame against Royals left-hander Onelki Garcia. In his first Major League start, Garcia recorded just one out and allowed four runs. Garcia faced six batters, allowing five to reach. Rookie Andres Machado, who followed Garcia, lasted just two-thirds of an inning, giving up four hits and six runs in his Major League debut.

On Machado, Royals manager Ned Yost said, "It's tough. We were trying to stop the bleeding there. He's a strike thrower with good stuff, but he just couldn't get ahead. He was trying to get ahead, and up here, you got to get ahead in the count."

Minnesota tacked on six runs in the second, sparked by Joe Mauer's RBI single against Machado. Mauer finished 4-for-4 with two RBIs. Brian Dozier launched a three-run homer in the fourth, while Eduardo Escobar clubbed a solo shot in the fifth and a three-run homer in the seventh. Escobar also notched a triple, becoming the first Twins hitter with two homers and a triple in a game since Jason Kubel on Sept. 23, 2008.

Gibson, who posted a 3.90 ERA in five starts in August, started off September with another strong outing. He scattered five hits across six frames to go with no walks and five strikeouts. Gibson has recorded three straight quality starts for the first time since July 2015.

Taylor Rogers, Buddy Boshers and Nik Turley combined to allow just two hits over the final three innings to complete the shutout.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Opening outburst: The Twins sent eight batters to the plate in a four-run first inning, which included three extra-base hits. Mauer's RBI double extended his season-high hitting streak to 11 games. Mauer last hit safely in 11 consecutive outings between July 17-30, 2015. Byron Buxton, who had been sidelined with a left hand contusion, knocked in Mauer with a triple. Buxton raced to third in 10.52 seconds, which is the fastest time to third tracked this season and the second-fastest since Statcast™ was introduced in 2015. Jorge Polanco (double) and Mitch Garver (single) then chased Garcia from the game.

Statcast: Buxton's speedy triple

"That was a big bounceback from last night," Gibson said. "Sometimes that can really take the air out of a team the next day. It was a good response for a team that's in the hunt like us and a great way to start the game off."

Six-pack: Minnesota followed up the first inning with a six-run second, featuring 11 batters. Following back-to-back walks to begin the frame, the Twins recorded three straight singles -- via Mauer, Buxton and Polanco -- to plate three runs. Escobar then smacked a two-run triple. The Royals recorded their first out of the frame on the eighth batter as Eddie Rosario capped the surge with a sacrifice fly.

Escobar drives in six vs. Royals

"It makes it tough when you fall behind," Yost said. "What was it, 10-0, before we even got an out in the second inning? It makes it tough."

QUOTABLE
"It's just frustration. That's all it is. We're in a tough spot right now. We're obviously pretty late in the season where we can't afford to give up that many games. They just jumped on us early today. There's really no turning back after that first inning." -- Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Mauer's RBI single in the second moved him further up the club's all-time leaderboards. Mauer is now tied with Justin Morneau for fifth on the Twins' all-time RBIs list (since 1961) with 860.

The Royals gave up their most runs in a game since a 19-1 loss to the Indians on May 16, 2011. In that game, Vin Mazzaro gave up 14 runs in 2 1/3 innings, although he didn't start.

GOODRUM MAKES DEBUT
Niko Goodrum, who replaced Dozier at second base in the sixth, went 0-for-2 in his Major League debut.

WHAT'S NEXT
Royals: Right-hander Ian Kennedy (4-10, 5.47 ERA) will start the series finale against the Twins on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. CT. Kennedy, who has not won in six straight starts, gave up six hits and seven runs over 2 2/3 innings on Monday in a 12-0 loss to the Rays.

Twins: Right-hander Ervin Santana (14-7, 3.27) will look to build off his strong August, in which he posted a 2.95 ERA over six outings, in Sunday's series finale at Target Field. Last time out, Santana allowed three runs in 6 2/3 frames in a win over the White Sox. He is 1-1 with a 4.38 ERA against the Royals this season.

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Shane Jackson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minneapolis and covered the Twins on Saturday.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.