Vinnie Pasquantino returned from injury ... and homered. How Thursday’s game unfolded

The Minnesota Twins flipped the script on the Kansas City Royals at Target Field — and won the four-game series in the process.

This season, the Royals have thrived with late-inning comebacks. And they even had some early momentum after first baseman Vinnie Pasquantino, who returned from a lower leg contusion, hit a two-run homer in the first inning.

But KC received a dose of its own medicine in Thursday’s series finale.

The Twins scored four runs in the sixth inning to surge past the Royals 7-6. The Royals dropped to 35-23, losing three of four against their American League Central rivals.

Minnesota overcame a one-run deficit in the sixth inning. Much of the damage came against Royals reliever Chris Stratton. He allowed four runs in his relief appearance and took the loss.

Stratton surrendered a go-ahead three-run triple to Twins star Carlos Correa. Minnesota added an additional run as Max Kepler hit a pinch-hit RBI single.

The Royals couldn’t overcome the deficit late. KC scored its runs early, primarily with the long ball against Twins starter Chris Paddack.

In addition to Pasquantino, Royals outfielder MJ Melendez went deep against the Twins.

Still, the Twins bullpen held off the Royals late. Royals star Bobby Witt Jr. hit a two-run single to help KC draw within one run against Twins closer Jhoan Duran.

But Duran shut the door as Minnesota improved to 31-25. The Twins have now won five of seven games against KC in 2024.

Missed previous games of the series?

Game 1: Royals attempted comeback falls short in 6-5 loss to Twins

Game 2: KC Royals drop third consecutive game as Twins silence offense

Game 3: Nelson Velázquez blasts 2 homers as Royals power past Twins

Here are more notable aspects from Thursday’s game:

Daniel Lynch IV looks solid in spot start

The Royals needed a late addition to the starting lineup after Thursday’s initial starter Brady Singer was scratched due to an illness.

Lynch got the call from Triple-A Omaha and performed well. He allowed three runs in five innings against the Twins. He navigated a tough lineup and pitched out of a few situations with runners on base.

In the fourth inning, Lynch avoided potential disaster after loading the bases. The Twins trailed 4-2 and had a chance to take the lead. Lynch, who had allowed a two-run homer to Ryan Jeffers earlier in the frame, smoothly reversed course.

He struck out Twins standout Carlos Santana and got catcher Christian Vazquez to fly out and end the inning.

Lynch threw 72 pitches. He registered 34 swings and six whiffs, per Baseball Savant.

The veteran’s lone mistakes came against Jeffers, who hit two homers. Still, Lynch was saddled with a no-decision after the Twins scored four runs against the Royals bullpen in the sixth inning.

MJ Melendez homers to snap cold spell

Melendez had been stuck in a rough patch in recent weeks.

Prior to Thursday’s game, his .173 batting average was well below the Mendoza line (.200 threshold) and sinking fast. Additionally, Melendez had just four hits in his last 30 at-bats dating back to May 15.

In his second at-bat, Melendez began to break out of his prolonged slump. He drilled a 416-foot home run into the right-field concourse at Target Field. It was his fifth home run of the 2024 campaign as the Royals took a 4-0 lead.

Melendez had gone 95 at-bats without a home run. His last homer came on April 19 against the Baltimore Orioles.

What’s next on the KC Royals schedule?

The Royals return home and welcome the San Diego Padres to Kauffman Stadium.

KC has not announced a starter for Friday’s game. However, the Padres will start right-hander Dylan Cease in the series opener. Cease (5-4) owns a 3.29 ERA in 11 starts and recently allowed four earned runs in his last outing.