KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Hunter Dozier drove in three runs and Edwards Oliveras hit a two-run shot, helping the Kansas City Royals beat U.S. Air Force captain Griffin Jax and the scuffling Minnesota Twins 6-3 on Saturday.
Danny Duffy only lasted four innings, allowing two runs on six hits and two walks, but the Kansas City bullpen was solid for the second straight day.
Kyle Zimmer (4-0) was the first of five relievers who pitched an inning apiece, and Scott Barlow handled the ninth for his fourth save and second in as many games.
The Royals’ back-to-back wins over Minnesota have come on the heels of a nine-game losing streak.
The Fourth of July weekend wasn’t kind to Jax (1-1), the first draft pick ever from the Air Force Academy. In his first career start and fifth big league appearance, the righty allowed six runs on eight hits and three walks while striking out three.
Trevor Larnach homered in the eighth for Minnesota, which has lost the first five games of its six-game road trip. Josh Donaldson and Nelson Cruz also drove in runs.
The Twins struck first for the second straight game when their first two batters reached in the fourth and Gilberto Celestino grounded to shortstop. The Royals tried to turn the double play, but second baseman Hanser Alberto’s throw to first went wide for his second error in as many games, and that allowed Ryan Jeffers to score the first of two runs in the inning.
The Royals wiped out all of Minnesota’s work in the bottom half, though.
Jax had set them down without a problem the first three innings, but the Royals tagged the current Air Force reserve officer with four runs in the fourth. The first two came on Dozier’s double and the second two when Oliveras hit the first pitch he saw in the inning into the left-field bullpen for his first homer of the year.
The Royals pushed across a couple more runs in the fifth before Jax’s day was finally done.
Royals: OF Andrew Benintendi (fractured rib) has been taking light swings in batting practice and remains on schedule to return sometime after the All-Star break. Benintendi got hurt last month during a game in Oakland.
Twins: Donaldson came up with a tight right hamstring rounding first on a double in the third inning. Donaldson slowed so much heading into second that he was nearly tagged out. Nick Gordon pinch ran and remained in the game.
The Royals traded Kelvin Gutierrez to the Orioles for cash on Saturday. The 26-year-old infielder has struggled with injuries the past couple of years and was hitting .215 with a homer and eight RBIs before he was designated for assignment June 28. Gutierrez arrived in Kansas City in 2018 in a trade with Washington.
Twins RHP Kenta Maeda (3-3, 5.56 ERA) and Royals RHP Brad Keller (6-8, 6.67) take the mound in Sunday’s series finale trying to rebound from lousy outings. Maeda gave up seven runs on eight hits and five walks Tuesday against the White Sox while Keller gave up six runs on 10 hits and five walks the same night in Boston.