By Rhett Bollinger and Jeffrey Flanagan
KANSAS CITY -- Joe Mauer ripped a two-run homer and the Twins' bullpen tossed five scoreless innings to bail out starter Mike Pelfrey as Minnesota topped the Royals, 5-3, on Saturday in front 37,917 fans at Kauffman Stadium.
The Twins have taken two of three so far in the series and pulled within 3 1/2 games of the first-place Royals, who have dropped five of six.
Veteran righty shaky vs. Twins; Royals may have other options for next turn
By Jeffrey Flanagan
KANSAS CITY -- Royals right-hander Joe Blanton, who had another shaky start in Saturday's 5-3 loss to the Twins at home, is listed as the Royals' probable starter on Thursday. And right-hander Yordano Ventura is scheduled for another Triple-A rehab start on Monday.
But those plans could be altered, much like the Royals altered their plan with left-hander Danny Duffy, who skipped another scheduled rehab outing to move back into the rotation on the last road trip.
Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow
him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
All-Star starters unveiled Sunday, full rosters Monday
Watch selection shows on ESPN; Final Vote to get underway Monday
By Mark Newman
It was historic because it happened exclusively online. It was personal because it decided the fate of your favorite players. It was intense because you argued a lot. And it was teamwork because you helped shatter a Major League Baseball record.
After 65 consecutive days of relentless fan voting to determine starting positions players for the 86th All-Star Game on July 14 at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, the largest All-Star balloting program in sports closed at 11:59 p.m. ET Thursday.
KANSAS CITY -- As Twins right-hander Ervin Santana takes a big league mound for the first time on Sunday since his 80-game suspension for his use of a performance-enhancing drug, it will at least be in familiar surroundings.
Santana returns to Kauffman Stadium, where he pitched well for the Royals in 2013 and where he has pitched well throughout his career (7-6, 3.68 ERA).
Former teammates Danny Duffy and Ervin Santana will go head to head in the series finale between the Royals and Twins at Kauffman Stadium on Sunday afternoon at 1:10 p.m. CT.
Following an 80-game suspension for his use of a performance-enhancing drug, Santana makes his season debut for the Twins after winning all three rehab starts with Triple-A Rochester. The right-hander is coming off a season with the Braves where he won 14 games, which tied Julio Teheran for the team lead.
By Jeffrey Flanagan and Rhett Bollinger
KANSAS CITY -- Lorenzo Cain scored from third on an infield dribbler off the bat of Jarrod Dyson with one out in the 10th inning as the Royals earned a 3-2 walk-off win over the Twins on Friday night before 38,868 fans at Kauffman Stadium.
Cain led off the 10th with a double and went to third with one out on a wild pitch. Dyson then hit a chopper to first baseman Joe Mauer off pitcher Aaron Thompson. Mauer fired home, but the tag was late as Cain slid in headfirst to give Kansas City its first walk-off win of the season and first since last year's victory over the A's in the American League Wild Card Game.
KANSAS CITY -- Looking to quench their thirst amid a four-game losing drought, the Royals needed look no further than Lorenzo Cain, who scored the decisive run in a 3-2 walk-off win over the Twins on Friday night.
Cain, who doubled leading off the 10th inning, sprinted home on an infield chopper by Jarrod Dyson to first.
Guthrie turned in his second straight quality start -- first time he has done that this season -- and held the Twins to just two runs through 7 1/3 innings. He walked one and struck out four in a start the Royals, who had lost four straight, badly needed.
By Jeffrey Flanagan and Rhett Bollinger
KANSAS CITY -- Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson continued his mastery of the Royals by humming through eight scoreless innings and allowing just four singles in a 2-0 win on Thursday night at Kauffman Stadium.
The Royals lost their fourth straight as the Twins moved 3 1/2 games out of first in the American League Central.
KANSAS CITY -- The words came hard for Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, as he stood in front of reporters on Thursday and tried to make meaning of the death of his 7-year-old friend, Noah Wilson, from Olathe, Kan.
Fans from all over the country learned of Noah's courageous battle against bone cancer during last year's Royals' playoff run -- a fight that he appeared to be winning in mid-June when he was considered cancer-free. But recently, his family learned he had leukemia.
Sources: Royals sign pair of Dominican Republic prospects
By Jesse Sanchez
Kansas City made its presence felt on the international scene by locking up two top teenage prospects from the Dominican Republic.
According to industry sources, the Royals agreed to $2.25 million signing bonus for outfielder Seuly Matias, ranked No. 9 on MLB.com's Top 30 International Prospects list, and a $1.5 million bonus for infielder Jeison Guzman, ranked No.29.
HOUSTON -- With injuries hitting the Royals' rotation hard during the past month, it's been veteran Edinson Volquez who's been the steady hand.
Volquez looked the part again for 3 2/3 innings against the Astros on Wednesday night, but it all came undone as he labored in a four-run fifth inning that was ultimately his final frame in the 6-5 loss at Minute Maid Park.
HOUSTON -- For much of the past two seasons, Kelvin Herrera has been the precursor to doom, which the Royals' bullpen often spells for opponents.
On Wednesday night, the flame-throwing righty looked mighty mortal for a second game in a row. Herrera took the loss, allowing the decisive run in the seventh inning of a 6-5 loss to the Astros, who swept the three-game set.
HOUSTON -- Royals pitcher Jason Vargas will throw about two simulated innings on Thursday, his first live throwing action since he landed on the disabled list in early June with a recurrence of a muscle strain in his left forearm.
"I just want to go out there and see how it feels in situations you face against hitters, and see how much I can give it and how it responds," Vargas said.
HOUSTON -- The Pacific Coast League All-Star teams were announced on Wednesday, and the Royals' Triple-A Omaha affiliate landed a pair of pitchers on the roster.
Left-hander John Lamb and veteran reliever Louis Coleman earned All-Star berths, and they won't have to travel very far. The Triple-A All-Star Game will be held on July 15 at Werner Park, the Storm Chasers' home stadium.
HOUSTON -- Auditioning for the starting nod in the All-Star Game in front of American League manager Ned Yost, ace Dallas Keuchel fired eight shutout innings and got just enough run support from George Springer's two-run homer off the foul pole in the third inning as the Astros secured a series win with a 4-0 win over the Royals on Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park.
Jose Altuve added a run-scoring double in the fifth, but by then, Keuchel was well on his way to his 10th win of the season. Now a 10-game winner in back-to-back seasons, Keuchel worked around two doubles in the first two innings to strand six and strike out seven. The lefty is now the first Astros pitcher since Roy Oswalt in 2005 to win 10 games before the All-Star break.
HOUSTON -- Royals outfielder Jarrod Dyson felt a tweak in his left groin last Wednesday in Seattle, and it's still lingering into the series against the Astros.
Dyson was not in the lineup on Tuesday night, but that had as much to do with his history against left-handed pitching as it did with any "minor" groin limitations. He's a career .216 hitter vs. southpaws, and lefty Dallas Keuchel was Houston's starter for the middle game.