Benintendi had five RBI in his second multi-homer game of the season in Minnesota. He’s driven in 11 runs in his last three games for Kansas City.
“He just gets into a great rhythm,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “When he’s healthy, he’s been going really strong. He’s had a really good year. He’s just had some different, unfortunate setbacks physically that have kind of got him off track. When he’s been rolling, it’s one good at-bat after another.”
Juan Minaya (2-1) took the loss for the Twins.
Benintendi’s 15th homer of the year off Minaya was an opposite-field fly that just found its way over the wall. Kansas City had loaded the bases in the 10th against Minaya, who got Salvador Perez to ground out to end the inning.
“Every year, every team has a couple of guys that are just thorns in their side,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said about Benintendi. “He’s been that this year against us. … He’s been hitting the ball all around the ballpark against us. He must like hitting here and all that because he’s been kind of a devastating presence for them throughout the season against us.”
Benintendi opened the scoring in the first with a three-run homer off Twins rookie starter Griffin Jax. He also hit two home runs in Minnesota on May 1.
Benintendi is hitting .382 with three doubles, seven homers and 17 RBI in 16 career games at Target Field. He’s tallied at least three hits in four of the games.
“I don’t know. I’ve always liked playing here,” Benintendi said. “I feel like I see the ball well. It’s about all I can come up with.”
The Twins took the lead with a pair of home runs in the bottom of the first off Royals rookie starter Daniel Lynch.
Byron Buxton led off with a deep drive to center field that bounced off the facing of the second deck an estimated 457 feet. Jorge Polanco doubled and Rob Refsnyder singled in front of Josh Donaldson’s 22nd homer of the year.
“We didn’t string together the types of at-bats we did in the first inning, certainly as the game went on,” Baldelli said. “We’re going to have score more than the four runs we put on the board early.”
Both rookie starters settled in after the first-inning homers.
Lynch allowed three hits over his final five innings and retired the final seven batters he faced.
“I think I just made better pitches,” Lynch said. “I think there was just a couple mental lapses in the first inning where I threw some pitches I knew I shouldn’t have thrown, and I kind of did it anyway.”
Jax retired eight straight hitters after Benintendi’s first home run and ended up with six hits and four runs allowed in six innings.
“I think it was just a mental adjustment,” Jax said. “Coming out and just understanding that for me, the keys to success are attacking early in the count and getting ahead. The further I fall behind in counts, the less success I’ll have.”
Twins: Baldelli confirmed the season is over for LHP Taylor Rogers, who is on the injured list with a left middle finger sprain. Rogers has been out since July 27. Baldelli said Rogers could start playing catch soon. … RHP Randy Dobnak, back on the disabled list with a right middle finger injury, has a full tear of the A4 pulley in the finger. Baldelli wouldn’t rule out a return this season for Dobnak but admitted it’s unlikely. Rogers and Dobnak don’t need surgery and need to let the injuries heal. … LHP Lewis Thorpe played long toss on Friday and will throw a bullpen on Saturday as he tries to recover from a left shoulder impingement.
RHP Michael Pineda (5-8, 3.99 ERA) starts Saturday for Minnesota, with Kansas City going with RHP Brady Singer (4-9, 4.58). Pineda is back in the rotation after making his first career relief appearance. He threw three scoreless outings after being activated from the injured list on Sept. 6. Singer is coming off his best start of the season with seven scoreless innings against the Chicago White Sox.
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