MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Joe Mauer went 4 for 4 with two RBIs and Eduardo Escobar hit two home runs while driving in six runs, as the Minnesota Twins erupted for a 17-0 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Saturday night.
Brian Dozier added a three-run homer and Byron Buxton went 3 for 5 with three runs, making starter Kyle Gibson (9-10) as comfortable as possible over six scoreless innings to help the Twins improve to 21-10 since Aug. 2. They took a 1 1/2-game lead for the second AL wild card spot into the night.
Dozier, Mauer, Buxton, Jorge Polanco and Escobar, the first five batters in the lineup, combined for 13 hits in 21 at-bats with 13 runs and 15 RBIs.
The Royals fell to 11-20 since July 31. They’ve been shut out 15 times this season, five in the last nine games.
Royals starter Onelki Garcia (0-1) had a forgettable first major league start. He gave up a walk to Dozier, a double off the wall to Mauer, a standup triple to Buxton and a double to Polanco before recording his first and only out. Mitch Garver’s first major league RBI ended his night in the four-run first inning.
The Twins tacked on six more runs in the second. Mauer moved above the .300 mark for the first time since May 11, 2016. The three-time AL batting champion has not finished above .300 since 2013, when his season was cut short by a concussion.
The Twins are averaging almost 6 1/2 runs per game since Aug. 2, with a plus-76 scoring margin over those 31 games.
Royals: RHP Ian Kennedy (4-10, 5.47 ERA) pitches Sunday afternoon. He’s coming off a season-worst start, a 12-0 loss to Tampa Bay with 2 2/3 innings finished.
Twins: RHP Ervin Santana (14-7, 3.27 ERA) takes the mound in the series finale.
The Twins won five of his six turns in August, when he went 3-0 with a 2.95 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 39 2/3 innings.
Mauer tied old friend Justin Morneau for fifth place on the team’s all-time list with 860 RBIs. He has a hit in 11 straight games and in 22 games since Aug. 10 is batting .448 (39 for 87).
AND ANOTHER ONE
Niko Goodrum replaced the second baseman Dozier in the sixth inning, becoming the 13th player to make his major league debut for the Twins this season. Goodrum, the team’s second-round draft pick in 2010, also became the 51st player used by the Twins in 2017.
Royals: RHP Kelvin Herrera, who was pulled from his appearance as the closer Friday with forearm tightness, was diagnosed with a mild strain and will be held out for at least a few days.
Twins: C Jason Castro, who has missed the last nine games because of a concussion, likely won’t need a rehab stint. He could be back in the lineup next week.