KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — From his vantage point in the dugout, Rocco Baldelli had no idea whether the chopper that Nelson Cruz hit toward third base with two outs in the 10th inning Tuesday night was fair or foul.
Turns out the Twins manager didn’t even need to challenge the call.
Plate umpire Mark Ripperger overruled the initial call of a fair ball — and a groundout — by third base umpire James Hoye, giving Nelson another chance at the plate. He followed through with a go-ahead single to give Minnesota a 5-4 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night.
“Those are interesting plays,” Baldelli said. “It’s a difficult play from the dugout, how to handle it, but we’d have talked about it on the phone.”
Cruz’s clutch single of Brad Boxberger (0-1) gave him three RBIs, and it gave the Twins a reason to be happy after outfielder Byron Buxton left with bruised ribs and the club left 14 runners on base.
“We had our opportunities,” Baldelli said. “We had our base runners.”
Trevor Hildenberger (1-0) got the final out of the ninth inning for Minnesota, and Blake Parker worked around a two-out walk in the 10th to earn his first save.
The Royals took the lead with one out in the eighth on an inside-the-park home run by Adalberto Mondesi, only for starter-turned-reliever Ian Kennedy to cough it right back up in the ninth.
Jorge Polanco led off with a double and, after Cruz flied out, Eddie Rosario delivered his first hit of the season to tie the game. Rosario eventually reached third on a single by Marwin Gonzalez, but Kennedy bounced back to retire Jonathan Schoop and escape the inning.
Mondesi finished a triple shy of the cycle, driving in a run with a single in the first and hitting a double in the third. Ryan O’Hearn also homered while Hunter Dozier added a sacrifice fly.
The game was supposed to be a matchup of bright young pitchers, and the Twins’ Jose Berrios and Royals counterpart Brad Keller followed up scoreless outings on opening day with solid starts.
They just weren’t around to see the finish.
Berrios allowed three runs and seven hits over seven innings, while Keller struggled with his command most of the game. He got some help when Max Kepler was thrown out trying to steal second, but the right-hander still allowed three runs and five hits over six innings.
“That was one of the starts where you just got to grind through it,” Keller said. “I didn’t have my best stuff, didn’t have my good command today, but, you know, just try to get through as many innings and keep the team in it. That’s what I tried to do today.”
The Royals bullpen nearly coughed up the game right after Keller took a bow.
Tim Hill allowed back-to-back singles to the only two batters he faced, and Wily Peralta issued a full-count walk to load the bases with nobody out. But their erstwhile closer bounced back to bookend a pair of strikeouts around a lineout and left the bases loaded.
Mondesi’s drive off reliever Taylor Rogers in the eighth hit high off the wall, just past the outstretched glove of Buxton in center field. It bounced far enough away that Mondesi was able to score with ease for his first career inside-the-park homer.
“He’s just really kind of coming into his own offensively,” Royals manager Ned Yost said of Mondesi, his star shortstop. “He exhibited power, he exhibited speed, range in the infield.”
Buxton was removed from the game in the ninth inning to be evaluated.
“I wanted to go get it. The ball was moving pretty good but I had already made up my mind,” said Buxton, sporting a big bandage on his ribs. “I felt it a little bit right away.”
STATS AND STREAKS
Kansas City announced attendance as 10,024, the lowest at Kauffman Stadium since 9,279 against Cleveland on April 21, 2011. … The Royals were the only team in the majors without a homer before O’Hearn went deep. … Cruz has six RBIs in the past three games.
The Royals acquired C Andrew Susac from Baltimore for cash. Susac had been dropped from the Orioles’ 40-man roster earlier this year and failed to make the major league team coming out of spring training. He’s a career .221 hitter over parts of five big league seasons.
Twins RHP Matt Magill and LHP Gabriel Moya, both on the injured list with shoulder tendinitis, are throwing bullpen sessions in extended spring training. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said Magill is ahead of Moya and both are ahead of LHP Addison Reed, who is dealing with a sprained thumb.
The Royals plan to add RHP Homer Bailey to the roster Wednesday to make his season debut against the Twins. RHP Kyle Gibson will start for Minnesota in the finale of their two-game set.
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