MINNEAPOLIS — After going off for four extra-base hits and driving in seven runs in a game against the Chicago White Sox during the first weekend of the season, the Twins’ designated hitter was asked what it was about the White Sox.
He had made it a habit of obliterating White Sox pitching since the moment he put on a Twins jersey. So, what was it?
Cruz had no specific answer.
“I just try to do my job,” he said. “If you ask the Royals, they’d probably say that, too.”
Yes, they probably would. The Kansas City Royals, like the White Sox, are probably happy to not have to face the Twins’ designated hitter anymore — at least for the next week — after Cruz hit two home runs in the Twins’ 4-1 win on Monday night at Target Field.
Cruz entered the day slashing .368/.400/.895 against the Royals (9-14) this year. He ended the day with another pair of home runs and now has eight. Five have come off of Royals pitching. It’s nothing new for Cruz, who now has 29 career home runs against the Royals. It’s the third-most for him against any team, behind the Los Angeles Angels and Oakland Athletics, two teams that he has faced much more often than the Royals.
Cruz’s two home run night as well as RBI hits from Byron Buxton and Max Kepler boosted the Twins (15-8) on a night where they got eight scoreless innings from their bullpen.
Matt Wisler started for the Twins and used a breaking-ball heavy approach to retire the Royals during his two innings. Devin Smeltzer worked the Twins into the middle innings with 2 2/3 scoreless frames, giving up just one hit.
Smeltzer gave way to Tyler Clippard with a runner on first, and Clippard immediately gave up a hit. But when Royals center fielder Whit Merrifield tried to stretch that single into a double, he was pegged out by Eddie Rosario, who played the ball off the wall in left and rocketed it in to Marwin Gonzalez at second to escape the jam.
Tyler Duffey and Trevor May threw scoreless innings. The Royals’ only run came in the ninth when Hunter Dozier homered to center off Zack Littell.