MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Mitch Garver‘s two-run homer in the eighth inning snapped a scoreless tie, and Kyle Gibson gave up two hits in eight innings in the Minnesota Twins‘ 2-0 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Friday night.
Garver’s 11th home run of the season was deep to the berm in center field off Kansas City reliever Jake Diekman (0-4) after Max Kepler had walked. Minnesota has won 16 of its past 22 games and started a big weekend at Target Field with three expected sellouts and Joe Mauer’s number retirement ceremony on Saturday.
Gibson (7-3) struck out six in his longest outing of the season. Taylor Rogers secured his seventh save in nine chances.
Kepler reached base three times but the Twins’ No. 1 offense was stifled by Royals starter Brad Keller. Keller matched Gibson along the way, surrendering just three hits and striking out five.
Garver finally supplied the power Minnesota has enjoyed all season.
It was the Twins’ league-leading 133rd homer. Minnesota has a home run in 12 straight games.
Byron Buxton was hit in the wrist by a pitch from Keller in the sixth inning but stayed in the game. However, Marwin Gonzalez pinch hit for Buxton in the eighth and Buxton was announced out with a right wrist bruise. The team said Buxton was day to day.
Both teams were active before the game. Kansas City optioned struggling first baseman Ryan O’Hearn to Triple-A Omaha and recalled outfielder Jorge Bonifacio. O’Hearn was hitting .188 in 56 games.
Manager Ned Yost indicated Bonifacio’s arrival was because the team is facing a slew of left-handed starters in the next two series and that his appearance will be short-lived with Hunter Dozier close to being activated from the injured list.
Minnesota swapped out right-handed relievers, sending Fernando Romero back to Triple-A and recalling Zack Littell. Manager Rocco Baldelli said Littell, mostly a starter in his minor league career, will be used in the bullpen going forward.
Royals: Alex Gordon was in the lineup at designated hitter a game after being hit by a pitch in the shoulder.
Twins: Rogers pitched for the first time since June 6 after dealing with a back injury.
RHP Jake Odorizzi (9-2, 1.92 ERA) starts for Minnesota in the second game of the three-game series, with Kansas City countering with RHP Glenn Sparkman (1-2, 3.58). Odorizzi has won nine straight decisions, the longest active streak in the majors, and hasn’t allowed a run in six of his past seven starts. Sparkman is 1-1 with a 3.15 ERA in four games as a starter this season.