In another park, the ball Alex Kirilloff hit to the center field warning track, the one that traveled 404 feet and had a .970 expected batting average, the one which got the Target Field crowd buzzing, could have been the rookie’s first career home run.
Not Target Field.
So Kirilloff came back in his next at-bat and hit the ball 12 feet further, the sphere clearing the fence and disappearing into the bleachers in left-center field. Byron Buxton and Nelson Cruz jogged home, with Kirilloff right on Cruz’s heels.
For the prized prospect with a sweet swing, it’s likely the first of many. On Friday, it was the first of two.
Kirilloff’s first two career home runs led the Twins to a 9-1 win over the division-leading Royals on Friday night at Target Field.
It seemed as if it was only a matter of time for Kirilloff, who had been hitting the ball hard since his debut but didn’t have much to show for it. Kirilloff went 0 for 15 to start his season, but now has hits in his past four games.
It was a day of firsts for the Twins as rookie Ben Rortvedt recorded his first career hit in his major league debut on a bloop single to left in the eighth inning. His hit brought home Andrelton Simmons, who had doubled home Max Kepler earlier in the frame.
Rortvedt came around to score on a Wade Davis wild pitch, as the Twins took advantage of some Royals wildness. Luis Arraez was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded earlier in the game and the Twins drew 10 walks in total.
That was plenty of offense for Michael Pineda and the Twins’ bullpen, who were aided by stellar defense all night long, including two vintage Byron Buxton plays in center. It was mostly smooth sailing for Pineda, who went five innings in his outing and gave up just a run — on a Carlos Santana home run in the fourth — on three hits.
In his fifth inning of work, Pineda was struck by a batted ball on the arm. He stayed in to finish the inning but was pulled after that at just 71 pitches. Tyler Duffey, Hansel Robles and Jorge Alcala closed out the game with four scoreless innings.