Pablo Lopez, Twins’ bullpen blank Royals 2-0 on opening day
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Pablo Lopez and four Minnesota relievers combined on a two-hitter as the Twins beat the Kansas City Royals 2-0 on a breezy opening day Thursday.
Trevor Larnach and pinch-hitter Donovan Solano each drove in a run. Lopez allowed both Kansas City hits while walking three and striking out eight in 5 1/3 innings, outpitching former Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke.
A trio of Twins relievers easily ushered the game to Jhoan Duran, who worked around a walk in the ninth to earn the save on an overcast afternoon at Kauffman Stadium.
Greinke, who also lasted 5 1/3 innings, delivered a solid start for Kansas City to begin his 20th season in the big leagues. The 39-year-old right-hander allowed both runs on six hits and a walk while striking out four.
The Twins won despite leaving the bases loaded three times and 12 on base in all.
Salvador Perez and Kyle Isbel had the Royals’ only hits.
Even though Greinke and Lopez matched scoreless innings through the fifth, both had to wiggle out of trouble.
The Twins had a pair of singles and a walk in the first inning, but Greinke rebounded to get Nick Gordon to ground out and end the threat. The Royals’ erstwhile ace didn’t allow another hit until Christian Vazquez singled with one out in the fifth.
Lopez, who arrived in a January trade with Miami, retired the first seven batters he faced and didn’t allow a single until Perez’s shattered bat went about as far as the ball in the fourth. Lopez later loaded the bases on a double, hit batter and walk in the fifth, but the righty got MJ Melendez to ground down the first-base line into an inning-ending double play.
The Twins finally broke though in the sixth. Larnach followed Byron Buxton’s leadoff triple with a base hit, and Solano entered to face Royals reliever Amir Garrett, ripping a single up the middle to extend the lead.
Kansas City never really threatened the rest of the way.
The Royals made Perez, their seven-time All-Star catcher, the fourth captain in franchise history Thursday. He’s the first to wear the “C” on his jersey since Mike Sweeney in 2007; the others were George Brett and Frank White.
Twins SS Carlos Correa singled in his first at-bat after a bizarre offseason. Lucrative deals with the Giants and Mets fell apart over concerns about his surgically repaired ankle and he returned to Minnesota on a six-year, $200 million deal.
Twins: RHPs Ronny Henriquez (elbow inflammation) and Josh Winder (shoulder strain), INF Jorge Polanco (knee inflammation) and OFs Gilberto Celestino (thumb surgery) and Alex Kirilloff (wrist surgery) went on the injured list before the game.
Royals: OF Drew Waters (oblique strain) and LHP Daniel Lynch (rotator cuff strain) went on the IL before the game.
Twins: INF/OF Willi Castro had his contract selected from Triple-A St. Paul to provide depth with Polanco and Kirilloff out.
Royals: OFs Jackie Bradley Jr. and Franmil Reyes and INF Matt Duffy had contracts selected from Triple-A Omaha. LHP Richard Lovelady was traded to Atlanta and 1B Matt Beaty to San Francisco, both for cash.
After a day off Friday, Twins RHP Sonny Gray gets the start against Royals RHP Jordan Lyles on Saturday.
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