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Twins use small ball, make Royals pay for walks in win

Pitcher Joe Ryan gave up one run in his 5 2/3 inning effort, and while he worked around traffic in all but two of his innings, he was able to limit the damage against him.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Kansas City Royals
Minnesota Twins third baseman Gio Urshela (15) scores a run sliding home past Kansas City Royals catcher MJ Melendez (1) during the third inning Saturday, May 21, 2022, at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.
Peter Aiken / USA Today Sports
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s no secret home runs are down across the league. But the Minnesota Twins have been showing lately that they can get it done in other ways. On Saturday, that meant laying down a couple of sacrifice bunts and taking advantage of their free passes.

The Twins used a walk, a sacrifice bunt and sacrifice fly to plate their first run. In the ninth, they used yet another sacrifice bunt and sacrifice fly as part of a four-run inning to break away. In between, the Twins strung together good at-bats all night, stopping the Kansas City Royals 9-2 on Saturday night at Kauffman Stadium.

Though it resulted in a pop-up, Byron Buxton set the stage at the very beginning, battling Royals starter Brad Keller for 10 pitches to lead off the game. In the third inning, the Twins broke through against Keller, playing some small ball.

Gio Urshela, who walked to lead off the inning, advanced on a Ryan Jeffers single. With two on and no outs, Gilberto Celestino laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt — the Twins’ second on the road trip — advancing both runners. Both wound up scoring — Urshela on Buxton’s sacrifice fly and Jeffers on Luis Arraez’s single through the hole at shortstop.

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Again, the Twins made the Royals pay for a leadoff walk in the sixth inning, using a pair of two-out hits — a single from Max Kepler and a double from Gary Sánchez — to tack on another couple of runs. For Sánchez, it marked his fifth straight game with an extra-base hit.

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Arraez, who walked in the sixth, drew another leadoff walk in the eighth and scored on a wild pitch. And in the ninth, the Twins finally broke away. Ryan Jeffers laid down the Twins’ second sacrifice bunt of the day and two more walks in the inning resulted in runs. Arraez’s second RBI single of the day, a Carlos Correa two-run double and a Jorge Polanco sacrifice fly helped the Twins turn a close game into a blowout. In total, the Twins walked six times, and five of those walks came around to score.

While the Twins made Royals pitchers pay for their walks, the Royals were unable to do the same. When Joe Ryan walked the final two batters of his outing in the sixth inning to load the bases, lefty Caleb Thielbar came in and bailed him out of the jam, getting outfielder Kyle Isbel to fly out.

That was the best opportunity of the night for the Royals against Ryan and the Twins’ bullpen. Ryan gave up one run in his 5 2/3 inning effort, and while he worked around traffic in all but two of his innings, he was able to limit the damage against him.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Kansas City Royals
Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Joe Ryan delivers against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning Saturday, May 21, 2022, at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.
Peter Aiken / USA Today Sports

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