KANSAS CITY— Rookie Miguel Sano crushed a pinch-hit home run to left field with two out in the 12th inning to help the Twins earn a 3-2 rubber-game win over the Royals on Wednesday night at Kauffman Stadium.
The Royals’ magic number to clinch the American League Central remains at 13. The Twins moved to 1 1/2 games behind the Rangers for the second Wild Card spot, with Texas’ 6-0 loss at Seattle.
“It’s a good win,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “You have to kind of savor those. You come back after you let them tie the game. We just had to stay with it. They came close to finding ways to win, but we kept finding ways to hold them off.”
Sano took a 2-2 pitch that appeared to be strike three, so much so that reliever Franklin Morales and the Royals began walking off the field. But it was called a ball and two pitches later, Sano delivered his 16th homer of the season, a towering shot over the Royals’ bullpen in left field.
“The pitch was right there, man,” Morales said. “But if he misses it, he misses it. That’s baseball.”
Added Royals manager Ned Yost, “He definitely got an extra chance. But we had other opportunities to win the game.”
Kansas City starter Kris Medlen had a no-hitter through five. He left after six innings, giving up three hits and two runs.
Right-hander Mike Pelfrey went 5 1/3 innings for the Twins, giving up five hits and one run.