MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Byron Buxton hit a three-run homer as part of a seven-run third inning, Sonny Gray kept rolling with six strong innings and the Minnesota Twins beat the Kansas City Royals 8-4 on Sunday.
Gray (4-0) allowed one run on five hits while striking out seven batters. Gray has given up just three runs in 35 innings this season and saw his MLB-best ERA rise to 0.77 after the outing.
Continuing his historic start, Gray tied Ervin Santana in 2017 for the lowest ERA in the month of April in Twins history. Gray owns the fourth-lowest ERA in Twins/Senators history since 1913 through six starts to a season, trailing Walter Johnson (0.23 in 1913), Eddie Matteson (0.55 in 1918) and Santana (0.66 in 2017).
“I don’t know if anyone in baseball could have had a better month than what Sonny Gray just gave us,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said. “For much of the month, he pitched great. He cruised. When things got difficult, when runners got on base, he was even better.”
The Twins won three of the four games against Kansas City, have won six of eight and have won five of Gray’s starts this season.
“I think the biggest takeaway is the wins,” Gray said. “For me, that’s the only thing that truly matters is when I start a game that the team wins. I think, for the most part, it was a good month in that aspect of it.”
Buxton homered for the second straight game, making it four in his past five games. The Twins homered in 13 straight games, hitting 22 over that span.
Brady Singer (2-3) lasted just 2 2/3 innings for the Royals, surrendering career high-tying eight runs on five hits and three walks. Six straight batters reached in the third against Singer.
“I felt good the first two (innings) there, and I felt like all the pitches had the right movement and I was looking to have a pretty good day there,” Singer said. “(Minnesota) just kind of put a lot of hits together.”
Vinnie Pasquantino had three hits for Kansas City, including a two-run single in the ninth inning before Jhoan Duran entered with two outs and recorded his sixth save.
The Royals’ 21 losses in April tie the club record for losses in any calendar month.
“I think we’re trying to look for anything here to flip the script from April, whether that’s new month, whether that’s homestand, anything,” Pasquantino said. “We’ll use this off day tomorrow to regroup and try to find something, try to get something going.”
Buxton doubled and scored on a sacrifice bunt by Nick Gordon in the second inning before launching his seventh homer of the season to the third deck in left field in the third.
Gordon, Willi Castro and Christian Vázquez followed with consecutive run-scoring singles.
Buxton’s homer allowed Minnesota to show off its new home run celebration. When he entered the dugout, Buxton was given a fishing vest and a kid’s fishing pole. On the back of the vest was “Land of 10,000 Rakes” a play on Minnesota’s famous “Land of 10,000 Lakes” slogan.
“We’ve been thinking of something to do anyway, but that was definitely pretty cool,” Buxton said. “It’s something unique that makes up our team and stands for Minnesota.”
Twins: RHP Tyler Mahle will be shut down for at least four weeks after an MRI and X-rays showed a posterior impingement and flexor pronator strain in his pitching elbow. Mahle, who had two starts end early last season because of shoulder inflammation after being acquired at the trade deadline from Cincinnati, left his most recent start last Thursday against Kansas City after four innings while showing diminished velocity.
Royals: Host Baltimore on Tuesday for the first of 10 straight home games. LHP Ryan Yarbrough (0-3, 6.35 ERA) will make his second straight start for the Royals in place of Kris Bubic.
Twins: Start a six-game road trip with three games against the Chicago White Sox. RHP Joe Ryan (5-0, 2.81) starts the first game Tuesday with RHP Michael Kopech (0-3, 7.01) scheduled for Chicago.
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