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Pitching sparks Royals to 4-1 win over Twins in series opener

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Glenn Sparkman turns in a fantastic performance.

Minnesota Twins v Kansas City Royals Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Glenn Sparkman shut down the powerful Twins bats, allowing just five hits and one run over seven innings of work in a 4-1 win for the Royals in the series opener against Minnesota. The outing tied the longest start of Sparkman’s career, and he now has a career 3.60 ERA in nine Major League starts.

It wasn’t apparent that Sparkman would shut down Twins hitters early, as Jorge Polanco smacked a solo home run in the first, a Major League-leading 141st home run on the season for Minnesota. But Sparkman would settle down and retire 10 of the next 11 batters and allow just one runner to get into scoring position all night. Over seven innings, Sparkman struck out three and walked just one batter.

The Royals quickly overcame the 1-0 first inning deficit. Whit Merrifield doubled off Twins starter Jake Odorizzi to start the inning, with Nicky Lopez following up with a single. Alex Gordon doubled them both home to give the Royals an early lead they would not relinquish. Lucas Duda would knock home another run, although he extended his hitless streak to 0-for-his-last 21 before smacking a single in the fourth. He would come around to score on a Martin Maldonado double to make it 4-1.

Gordo tried to make a cool catch too, although it wouldn't count.

Jake Diekman and Ian Kennedy spelled “relief” by retiring the last six hitters of the game, earning Kennedy his ninth save.

The Royals’ pitching staff is on a pretty good stretch, having given up four runs or less in 10 of their last 13 games with a 3.32 ERA over that time. Glenn Sparkman may not have the pedigree of a top pitching prospect, but he is starting to look like an intriguing rotation option the Royals should at the very least, get a long look at in a lost season.