Twins wear out Royals pitching in 9-0 victory
Sonny Gray throws six scoreless innings as Twins pull within one game of Central-leading Cleveland
MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins are finding their way back to the top of the American League Central.
Sonny Gray pitched six-plus shutout innings, and seven Twins each drove in a run as Minnesota beat the Kansas City Royals, 9-0, in front of an announced crowd of 23,093 at Target Field on Tuesday.
Major league batting leader Luis Arraez went 4 for 5 with an RBI single and scored two runs, boosting his average by three points to .336. Gio Urshela and Nick Gordon each drove in two runs. It was the most runs the Twins had scored since an 11-1 victory at Cleveland on June 27.
The victory, coupled with Cleveland’s 7-5 loss to Detroit, pulled the Twins within one game of the Central-leading Guardians. They started this homestand on Monday trailing by 2½ games.
The Twins and Guardians play eight times in September.
Gray (7-3) allowed only three hits, didn’t walk a batter and tied a season high with 10 strikeouts in six innings. He faced two batters in the seventh, surrendering singles to Salvador Perez and Vinnie Pasquantino before manager Rocco Baldelli replaced him with left-hander Caleb Thielbar.
As he did in Monday’s 4-2 victory over the Royals, Thielbar got the Twins out of a two-on, none-out jam. The first batter he faced, Michael Massey, grounded into a fielder’s choice, forcing Pasquantino, 3-6. He then struck out Michael Taylor and Nick Prato to end the inning and retain Minnesota’s 3-0 lead.
Veteran right-hander Zack Greinke (4-8) allowed three runs, one earned, on nine hits and struck out five over six innings. Catcher Sandy Leon drove in the Twins first run, scoring Urshela with a sacrifice but in the second inning. Arraez then singled home Gilberto Celestino before being thrown out at second.
Celestino hit a hanging breaking ball from Greinke off the ribbon board in left field for the Twins’ third run.
Minnesota scored three two-out runs in the seventh, one on a fielder’s choice grounder by Max Kepler and two on two-out RBI singles by Urshela and Nick Gordon. Joe Miranda, Urshela and Gordon added run-scoring singles in the eighth to make it 9-0.
The AL Central rivals finish their three-game series with a matinee on Wednesday.
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