MINNEAPOLIS — When Nelson Cruz signed with the Minnesota Twins this past offseason, he made a few predictions. He was confident he would get to 400 career home runs this year, and he also believed the Twins would make the playoffs.
One down, one to go.
Cruz hit his 400th career home run, Miguel Sano connected twice and the Twins powered past the Kansas City Royals 12-8 Sunday.
Minnesota piled up six runs in the first inning and rolled from there after starting the day with a four-game lead over Cleveland for first place in the AL Central.
Cruz became the 57th player with 400 homers. His fourth-inning solo shot was also his 40th homer of the season.
“It’s nice to do it in front of the fans. I think they deserve it,” Cruz said. “They’ve been such a big influence for us as a team. They come up every day with that energy.”
Kansas City joined Baltimore, Detroit and Miami with 100 losses, only the second time in major league history there have been four 100-loss teams in one season. In 2002, Detroit, Milwaukee and Tampa Bay each lost 106 and Kansas City was defeated for the 100th time on the season’s final day.
Cruz joined Harmon Killebrew and Brian Dozier as the only Twins to hit 40 homers in a season. He traded a baseball, a bat and a photo with the fan who caught his 400th home run in exchange for the milestone ball.
MINNEAPOLIS — Jose Berrios and Taylor Rogers have been the Twins’ most reliable pitchers and helped push Minnesota to the verge of the AL Central title.
For one game, Berrios and Rogers each faltered as the Twins missed a chance to build on their division lead.
Rogers got tagged during a seven-run ninth inning and Minnesota fell to the Kansas City Royals 12-5 on Saturday night. The Twins remained four games ahead of Cleveland, which lost at home to Philadelphia.
“Sometimes things just don’t play out the way you want them to, and there’s not a lot to single out,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said of Rogers. “Was he as sharp as he normally is? I mean, he’s nails almost every time he goes out there.”
“Does a great job and marches and walks right into the dugout quietly and does his thing and the inning’s over. Seems like when he doesn’t work out like that, it’s very odd,” he said.
Pinch-hitter Cheslor Cuthbert lined a tiebreaking, two-run homer off Rogers (2-4) to begin the Royals’ big burst. Rogers gave up three runs on three hits while getting just one out.
Rogers has been a big reason the Twins are in first place. He had only allowed one run in his previous 12 outings, and his ERA rose from 2.30 to 2.69 after his appearance.
“It’s been a while since I’ve had to do this, so that’s pretty good news,” Rogers said of speaking to the media after the loss.
Randy Rosario (2-0) retired the only batter he faced as the Royals ended a four-game losing streak. They avoided becoming the fourth team in the majors with 100 losses this season.
“We want to win every game we play,” Kansas City first baseman Ryan O’Hearn said. “That hasn’t changed. To beat a good team tonight was fun. We’ll come back and try to even the series up tomorrow.”
O’Hearn, who homered off Berrios earlier, started the ninth with a single. After a sacrifice, Cuthbert connected.
Jorge Soler and O’Hearn each finished with three hits.
“These kids, they’ve made some pretty good headway this year,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “The thing I’m most proud of is they just stay after it. I’m pleased with that.”
LaMonte Wade Jr. homered and tripled for the Twins, who had won six of eight.
Berrios was handed a 5-2 lead after Minnesota scored four runs in the fifth off Royals starter Glenn Sparkman. Berrios couldn’t hold the lead as Ryan McBroom had an RBI single and O’Hearn followed with a two-run homer in the sixth.
Berrios allowed five runs in six innings after he had surrendered just two runs over his previous two starts, spanning 14 1/3 innings.
“I’m feeling really good,” Berrios said. “My stuff is working for me. It was working today. It was just like, I guess, a lucky outing, if you want to call it that way. Not to make excuses, but it was just one of those things.”
The five runs give the Twins 894 runs this season, setting a new Twins/Washington Senators’ franchise record. The previous record of 892 was set by Washington in 1930. … Reliever Tyler Duffey pitched a scoreless inning in relief of Berrios. Duffey has a scoreless innings streak of 21 2/3 innings and is unscored upon in his last 24 outings. … Kansas City second baseman Whit Merrifield doubled in the ninth, giving him a majors-best 197 hits this season.
Twins: OF Max Kepler (shoulder) pinch-ran in the eighth inning after missing the previous six games. Kepler has been running the bases and shagging flyballs during batting practice. The shoulder injury bothers Kepler when hitting. … 1B C.J. Cron (bruised thumb) had no issues after starting Friday’s game. It was his first start in five games. He was out of the lineup on Saturday. … Ehire Adrianza (oblique) took groundballs prior to Saturday’s game and is planning to hit off a tee on Sunday.
Royals: RHP Jorge Lopez (4-8, 5.93 ERA) will start the final road game of the season for Kansas City. He’s allowed four earned runs in 17 1/3 innings over his past three starts, all coming on the road.
Twins: LHP Martin Perez (10-7, 4.92) will try to improve against the Royals in Minnesota’s regular season home finale. Perez is 0-1 with a 7.02 ERA in three starts against Kansas City this season.
“Nelly going out there and hitting his 400th home run, maybe he picked the perfect day to do it,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We’re all honored to be here and witness it and enjoy this experience with him.”
Sano homered in the first and third innings. Sano hit a three-run drive during the big first inning against starter Jorge Lopez, who lasted just 2 1/3 innings.
“We didn’t pitch good as a staff today,” Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Eddie Rosario and Marwin Gonzalez each drove in three runs for the Twins, who play their final six regular season games away from Target Field. Minnesota is 50-25 on the road.
Minnesota’s Martin Perez had his shortest start of the year. The lefty allowed five runs and eight hits in 2 1/3 innings. Zack Littell (6-0) earned the win.
Kansas City left fielder Whit Merrifield became the eighth Royal to reach 200 hits in a season.
“To get to 200 hits, it’s a huge accomplishment,” Merrifield said. “It’s a huge goal I’ve had. It’s a blessing to have stayed healthy long enough to do it — that’s a huge part of it, the durability.”
The Twins’ bullpen combined for 14 strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings.
TWINS ATTENDANCE UP IN 2019
An announced crowd of 31,628 fans attended Minnesota’s final regular season home game. That brings the Twins’ total attendance to 2,294,152 for the season, their highest total since 2013.
That’s up 334,955 from last year, when Minnesota had a total attendance of 1,959,197.
Royals: SS Adalberto Mondesi exited in the first inning with a left shoulder injury. Mondesi injured the shoulder while diving to make a play on a ground ball by Cruz. … C Nick Dini left Sunday’s game in the sixth inning with a right shoulder contusion.
Twins: C Mitch Garver was removed as a precaution from Sunday’s game with right hip tightness. He’e considered day-to-day. … RF Max Kepler (shoulder) will ramp up hitting activities in the coming days to prepare him to return to the lineup, including hitting off a high-velocity machine early in the week. … INF Ehire Adrianza (oblique) went through an infield workout, and Baldelli said Adrianza “came out great” from it. However, Baldelli wasn’t sure if Adrianza would return before the end of the regular season.
Royals: LHP Danny Duffy (6-6, 4.30 ERA) starts the first game of Kansas City’s series with the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday. Duffy threw seven scoreless innings his last time out in a no-decision against Oakland.
Twins: RHP Jake Odorizzi (114-7, 3.59 ERA) opens Minnesota’s series Tuesday at Detroit in search of his first win in the month of September.