Twins ride bullpen to 5-3 win over Royals for series sweepKansas City Royals pitcher Jason Hammel throws against the Minnesota Twins in the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, April 6, 2017, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Jason Castro and Jorge Polanco hit consecutive RBI doubles in the seventh inning, as the Minnesota Twins dented Kansas City's bullpen again and beat the Royals 5-3 Thursday to sweep the season-opening series.
The Twins, who dropped their first nine games last season on the way to a major league-most 103 losses, are 3-0 for the first time since 2007. The Royals have their first 0-3 start since 2001.
This was Minnesota's first sweep of Kansas City in 18 series between them since April 2014.
Salvador Perez and Mike Moustakas homered off Twins starter Kyle Gibson to take Jason Hammel off the hook in his Royals debut, but new reliever Mike Minor (0-1) let the Twins take the lead again. The Royals were outscored 14-0 in the seventh inning in the series.
Taylor Rogers (1-0) worked the seventh for the victory, and Brandon Kintzler pitched a perfect ninth for his first save. Twins relievers have logged 10 scoreless innings, three games into the season.
The Royals walked 23 batters in the series. Sure enough, a one-out walk by Castro, already his sixth this season, was in the middle of a two-run second inning by the Twins that gave Gibson an early edge. Polanco had an RBI single during the rally.
Max Kepler reached base three times, including an RBI double in the fifth. Byron Buxton fanned with the bases loaded to finish the sixth and is 1 for 14 with an infield single, a walk and seven strikeouts.
Gibson altered his mechanics during the offseason to produce a shorter delivery for reduced strain on his back and shoulder, which caused a seven-week absence last season. He also initiated some unorthodox training methods on his arm in attempt to revitalize a career that wilted last year.
Hammel began his 12th major league season, with his sixth different team. After posting a 2.75 ERA through 23 starts with the Chicago Cubs last year, the right-hander was hit hard down the stretch and left off the postseason roster by the eventual World Series champions. He signed a $16 million, two-year contract in February with the Royals, who needed a replacement in the rotation following the death of Yordano Ventura in a Dominican Republic car crash.
Royals: Limited to 27 games last season by injuries to his thumb and knee, Moustakas is 4 for 11 with two homers to start 2017.
Twins: Experiencing mild soreness around his wrist after falling on it in the field on Wednesday, Eddie Rosario took a turn at DH so Santana could play LF.
Royals: Stay on the road with a visit to Houston for a three-game series starting Friday, with LHP Jason Vargas scheduled to start. Vargas returned from Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery to make three starts at the end of last season. The Astros will send RHP Mike Fiers to the mound.
Twins: Travel to Chicago for a three-game series and six-game road trip beginning Friday, with RHP Phil Hughes making his first start since June 2. A batted ball broke the femur bone in his left leg, before Hughes was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome that required removal of a rib. For the White Sox, LHP Derek Holland will take the mound.
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