KANSAS CITY — A night after the Royals romped with 13 runs in a win over the Cubs, they came back with a manager’s dream: A gritty, grind-it-out, 3-2 win over the American League Central-leading Twins on Friday night at Kauffman Stadium.
The Royals’ bullpen looked like a flashback to the shutdown era of 2013-15, as Greg Holland, Josh Staumont, Scott Barlow and Trevor Rosenthal combined for 4 1/3 shutout innings. Rosenthal picked up his second save of the season.
Holland got a big out with two runners on in the fifth, coaxing Eddie Rosario into a weak groundout. Holland then tossed a 1-2-3 sixth.
From there, the Twins just had one more baserunner.
Rosenthal turned in a 1-2-3 ninth that included, arguably, striking out pinch-hitter Nelson Cruz twice with two outs — replays showed Cruz clearly went around on a 2-2 pitch that was called a ball. Rosenthal later struck him out on a 3-2 heater to end it.
“Fantastic job; that’s exactly it,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “Holly coming in and getting a big out. He stayed sharp.
“Barlow just continues to impress. He just makes big pitches in big situations. And Rosie, I don’t know what more you can ask of him.”
Staumont’s back tightened up during his two-thirds of an inning after he slipped on a soggy mound. The Royals took him out as a precautionary measure and will re-examine him Saturday.
Barlow, who at times last season looked unhittable but also struggled with consistency, has found his groove early in 2020. He retired all four hitters he faced and lowered his ERA to 2.00.
“It was awesome seeing Greg come out, throwing strikes, getting the ball on the ground, letting his defense do the work,” Barlow said. “Same with Josh, throwing bullets once again. He’s really fun to watch — his intensity, his presence on the mound. I think everybody is feeding off of that. Then Rosie coming in and shutting the door. I thought it was all together a full-team win tonight.”
First baseman Ryan McBroom’s second homer of the season gave the Royals a 3-2 lead in the sixth. McBroom belted an 0-1 slider from right-hander Matt Wisler over the left-center-field fence.
Royals right-hander Jakob Junis, making his second start of 2020, was mostly efficient. He allowed five hits and two runs over 4 2/3 innings.
Junis, who gave up 31 home runs last season in 175 1/3 innings, surrendered two on Friday.
In the third inning, Junis left an 0-1 slider over the middle of the plate and Byron Buxton smacked it over the left-center-field wall, giving the Twins a 1-0 lead.
In the fourth, Marwin Gonzalez left the yard on a first-pitch fastball from Junis, giving the Twins a 2-1 lead.
Nick Heath, who got his first big league hit on Thursday, knocked in a run on Friday with a single that scored Maikel Franco in the third inning and tied the game 1.
Nicky Lopez swatted a single up the middle in the fifth to score Alex Gordon from second and tie the score at 2.