Minneapolis Robbie Grossman, Max Kepler and Chris Gemenez all homered to help the Minnesota Twins beat the Kansas City Royals, 8-4, in the second game Sunday to salvage a split of a doubleheader.
Grossman and Kepler each hit two-run homers in the first inning, and Brian Dozier had an RBI double in the second off Ian Kennedy (0-4) in his first game back from the disabled list.
Minnesota’s offense helped left-hander Adalberto Mejia (1-1) earn his first career big league win. Mejia was the Twins’ 26th active player for the second game and allowed three runs in seven innings, on two home runs by Salvador Perez — who also went deep in the first game.
Brandon Moss hit two of Kansas City’s four home runs, and Perez and Jorge Bonifacio each hit two-run homers to lead the Royals to a 6-4 win earlier in the day.
With the split, the Twins are now 7-1 on the year against the Royals. Kansas City’s win in the first game snapped a seven-game losing streak against Minnesota.
Mike Minor’s road back to the majors was not an easy one. Shoulder surgery kept him out of the majors for two years and resulted in a move to the bullpen.
Minor got his first victory since 2014 with 1 1/3 scoreless innings of relief in the first game Sunday. He relieved Jake Junis with a 5-2 lead in the fifth, two outs and two on. The 29-year-old left-hander walked Max Kepler, then retired Kennys Vargas on a popup. Minor retired the side in order in the sixth.
Minor had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his pitching shoulder in May 13, 2015, and did not appear in the major leagues in 2015 and 2016. Minor, who signed a $7.25 million, two-year contract with the Royals in February 2016, got his first major league victory since Aug. 28, 2014, for Atlanta.
Junis’ first start
Kansas City’s Jake Junis, a 24-year-old right-hander, was recalled from Triple-A Omaha and made his first big league start after a pair of relief appearances. He allowed two runs, five hits and four walks in 4 2/3 innings, leaving after RBI singles from Brian Dozier and Miguel Sano.
Junis found out Saturday that he would be making his first career start. He didn’t pitch deep enough to get the win, but impressed manager Ned Yost before the Royals optioned Junis back to Omaha after the game.
“I thought he did a nice job,” Yost said. “We tried to get him through that fifth inning, but we needed to win this game.”
Kansas City left fielder Alex Gordon missed the second game to join his wife, who is due to give birth today. Infielder Raul Mondesi is replacing Gordon in the lineup while he is gone on paternity leave. ... RHP Al Alburquerque was designated for assignment to make room on the roster for Junis.
Royals: RHP Nate Karns had his pitching arm evaluated after Friday’s start against Minnesota. Manager Ned Yost said fluid was found in the elbow area but Karns does not have a strain. Karns exited his start Friday after five innings and threw just 72 pitches due to stiffness in his arm.
Royals: LHP Jason Vargas (5-2, 2.03 ERA) starts tonight’s series opener at the New York Yankees.
Twins: Minnesota had not announced its starter against Baltimore.