MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Sitting in his office about 10 feet away from the Kansas City Royals’ locker room, manager Ned Yost’s voice was nearly drown out by the thunderous hip hop music blaring and the full-throated cackling from his players in the next room.
The young Royals have good reason to celebrate these days.
Alcides Escobar tied a career high with four RBIs on two doubles and Salvador Perez homered to lift the Royals to a 6-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Monday night.
“That’s what we need,” Perez said. “Have some fun and play the game hard.”
Danny Duffy (5-7) gave up one run and four hits while striking out three in 5 2-3 innings and Mike Moustakas had two hits for the Royals. Kansas City (43-39) has won three of four and is off to its best start since 2003.
“We’re very confident in what we have in the tank,” Duffy said. “We’ve got a great offense, great lineup. The defense is always flashing the leather. When we go out there and make pitches, it’s going to be a good night.”
Yohan Pino (0-2) gave up four runs and seven hits while also striking out three in 5 2-3 innings for the Twins. Eduardo Nunez had two hits and an RBI in his return from the disabled list for Minnesota, which has lost six of its last seven games to drop into last place in the AL Central.
“We’ve been facing some pretty decent pitching, and I don’t know if it’s pressing,” said manager Ron Gardenhire, whose Twins went 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position. “I just know we’re just not getting enough big hits right now. We’re not putting any runs on the board. A lot of pressure on our pitchers to be really good.”
The Royals entered the night 3 1/2 games behind Detroit in the division and 1 1/2 games out of the AL wild card. For a team that has been endlessly rebuilding and hasn’t made the playoffs since 1985, those are encouraging numbers as the season reaches its midpoint.
They grabbed everyone’s attention with a 10-game winning streak that vaulted them into first place in June, but had lost seven of 10 games as the bats cooled off.
The Royals signed 42-year-old Raul Ibanez on Monday, hoping he can help boost the team’s scuffling offense and give a little extra support to a solid starting rotation. Ibanez broke into the big leagues with the Royals a decade ago, but hit just .157 in 57 games for the Angels this season.
They had plenty of offense with him on the bench on Monday night.
Pino was shaky early, getting tagged for a two-run double by Escobar in the second inning and an RBI-single from Alex Gordon in the fourth to fall behind 3-0. Perez’s solo homer in the sixth ended Pino’s day and the Royals took advantage of two throwing errors by second baseman Brian Dozier in the eighth, padding their lead with Escobar’s second two-run double of the game.
“When you’re not going good, you’re not capitalizing on mistakes,” Yost said. “When you’re playing well, you do capitalize on mistakes. That’s exactly what we did tonight, which was big. Those were two big runs right there. That’s a lot of breathing room.”