MINNEAPOLIS (TNS) — The odds weren't good. Danny Duffy had given up two runs to the Twins in his previous 20 innings against them this year. Jake Cave was hitting only .158 against left-handed pitching. So when Cave came to the plate in the second inning Sunday, the bases having been loaded by a couple of singles and a walk, nobody in Target Field could have expected what happened next.
Cave worked the count full, taking a low fastball that the Royals dugout believed might have been a strike, and then he unloaded on a 95-mile per hour fastball on the outer edge of the strike zone. The ball landed in the right field seats, Cave's first career grand slam at any level, and the Twins took a lead they would never relinquish, finally sweeping the Royals with a 6-5 victory.
Ehire Adrianza and Robbie Grossman also drove in runs, and the Twins bullpen, handed the game when Ervin Santana was removed in the fifth inning, managed to nurse that lead the rest of the day. Kansas City threatened in each of the final three innings, but never could overcome the early lead that Cave delivered.
Santana surrendered a two-run home run to Lucas Duda in the third inning, and gave up three straight singles, the last an RBI line drive by Alex Gordon in the fifth, and departed without even completing five innings.
Gabriel Moya relieved and left two Royals stranded, then pitched a perfect sixth inning to earn his second win of the weekend. Trevor Hildenberger gave up a two-run homer to Whit Merrifield in the seventh, erasing the Twins' margin for error, but got three outs without further damage. Trevor Rogers struck out two in the eighth, and Trevor May whiffed Alcides Escobar with two runners, both of whom reached on Twins' fielding mistakes, in scoring position.
And Fernando Rodney, despite giving up two singles and a walk, recorded his 24th save in 30 chances by inducing Rosell Herrera into hitting a ground ball to Miguel Sano, who turned it into the final out.
The Twins, who remain nine games behind Cleveland in the AL Central, open a four-game series at Progressive Field on Monday. The Royals, meanwhile, return home to face the Chicago Cubs in a three-game series, also beginning Monday.