KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Jarrod Dyson will be receiving a text from catcher and former Kansas City Royals teammate Drew Butera.
“I’m going to tell him, ‘that what speed do,'” Butera quipped.
Butera hit a tiebreaking, three-run inside-the-park home run when center fielder Jake Cave failed in his attempt to make a diving catch in the seventh inning, and the Kansas City Royals beat Minnesota 5-3 on Sunday to take three in a row from the Twins and complete their first series sweep in a year.
Waved home by third-base coach Mike Jirschele, Butera slid in ahead of second baseman Brian Dozier’s throw for the first inside-the-park-homer by a Royals catcher since Brent Mayne on Sept. 22, 1991. The 97th inside-the-park homer in Royals history was the first since Jarrod Dyson’s on July 8, 2015.
“I’ll add it to a list of really weird things I’ve done in my career,” Butera said.
Kansas City had not swept a series since last July 24-26 at Detroit, part of a nine-game winning streak. The Royals, who are 30-68, matched their longest winning streak of the season at three games.
With the score 2-2, Lucas Duda singled off Zach Duke (3-4) leading off the seventh and Alcides Escobar walked with two outs. Butera, a slow-footed catcher with no stolen bases in nine major league seasons, hit a liner just to the right-field side of short center. As Cave landed on his stomach, the ball bounced to the warning track, where it was retrieved by right fielder Max Kepler at the base of the wall.
“It was like Evel Knievel,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He pulled the parachute too early. Soon as he hit third base, he looked like he was running under water.”
Butera slid in ahead of second baseman Brian Dozier’s throw.
“After I saw him dive, I thought I’d get to third, and there was no sense in sending me unless the right fielder and left fielder fell down,” Butera said.
Cave did not second-guess his decision.
“When I first made the read, I thought I had a chance for it,” Cave said. “I just wanted to make a play for my pitcher, and it kind of went the wrong direction. Hindsight’s 20-20. Looking back at it now, maybe I should have gone another way, but I’ve played the game one way my whole life, that’s aggressive and hard, and I don’t want to stop that.”
Twins manager Paul Molitor did not fault Cave.
“I’m glad he went for it,” Molitor said. “You’ve got a chance to make a play. We had put him playing shallow, trying to throw a guy out and moved him in a little bit closer with two strikes. It just was dying. He tried to get there. I give him credit. He didn’t back off.”
Brad Keller (3-4) struck out a career-high eight in seven-plus innings, allowing three runs and three hits. He had given up nine runs, 13 hits and nine walks over 6 2/3 innings in his previous two starts.
Kepler’s home run leading off the eighth was the first off Keller in 63 1/3 innings. Wily Peralta worked around a two-out walk in the ninth for his fourth save in as many chances.
Twins starter Jake Odorizzi gave up two runs — one earned — and two hits over six innings.
Dozier hit an RBI double in the fourth and scored on Logan Morrison’s groundout. Alex Gordon hit a two-run double in the fifth after third baseman Eduardo Escobar, shifted into right field, allowed Duda’s grounder to bounce off his wrist for an error.
Gordon has 500 extra-base hits and only George Brett, Hal McRae, Frank White and Amos Otis have more with the Royals.
Royals: OF Brian Goodwin was acquired from the Nationals for minor league pitcher Jacob Condra-Bogan. The 27-year-old Goodwin hit .200 in 48 games with Washington.
Twins: RHP Ervin Santana (right middle finger surgery) is to come off the DL and make his season debut Wednesday at Toronto. “We think that keeping him on his regular turn would be good,” Twins manager Paul Molitor. Santana allowed one run in six innings Friday for Triple-A Rochester.
Royals: RHP Ian Kennedy (oblique strain) likely will miss several turns, ending his streak at eight seasons of 30 or more starts. Kennedy has been limited to cardio activities and no throwing since going back on the DL on July 11.
Twins: LHP Adalberto Mejia (0-0) is to be recalled from Triple-A Rochester and start Monday at Toronto. He went 5-3 with a 3.32 ERA in 11 starts and three relief appearances in the International League. He lost on June 30 in his only appearance for the Twins this year, allowing four runs in four innings against the Chicago White Sox.
Royals: RHP Heath Fillmyer (0-1) will make his second career start in the series opener against the Tigers.