Jax sharp as Twins stop Perez, shut out Royals 4-0
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Griffin Jax and a trio of relievers combined on a three-hitter and the Minnesota Twins blanked Salvador Perez and the Kansas City Royals 4-0 Saturday night.
Perez was hitless in four at-bats for the second straight night as he tries to break the team record for home runs. Leading the majors with 48 homers — one more than Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. — Perez is tied with Jorge Soler (2019) for the most by a Royals player.
“Griffin really showed up tonight,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “I think he felt his slider today in a real nice fashion, was able to use it a lot.
“I think we saw a really nice version of Griffin Jax. I think he’s been working on a lot of things. I think he and (pitching coach) Wes (Johnson) had a ton of conversation and we saw it come to fruition in the last start of the season. We’ve seen this from him at different points in the year and to see him kind of build towards this going into the offseason, a great last outing,” he said.
Josh Donaldson hit his 26th homer and Luis Arraez drove in two runs for Minnesota.
Jax (4-5) allowed just one hit in five innings. The rookie, who came into the game with a 6.78 ERA, struck out three and walked two in the best of his 14 starts in the majors.
“They’re all kind of memorable, but it’s nice to end on a high note,” Jax said. “It means a lot. You’re going to face the same lineup many times each year, and that makes it harder because guys are going to see you more often.
“I like to look at every single start and see how I improved. For this to end the way it did it gives me a whole lot more confidence heading into the offseason,” he said.”
Relievers Caleb Thielbar, Tyler Duffey and Alex Colomé finished up the shutout.
Kris Bubic (6-7) gave up two earned runs and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out five and didn’t walk a batter.
“I thought he was good,” Kansas City manager Mike Matheny said. “It wasn’t a big inning. The one-run innings stacked up on him.
“He figured out ways to use everything. It was a continuation of what we’ve seen in his last several starts —well-located fastball, smart with the breaking ball and his changeup was plus. He should be very proud of the adjustments and improvements he’s made this season,” he said.
Donaldson hit a solo homer in the first. Arraez’s sacrifice fly gave the Twins an unearned run in the fourth.
Byron Buxton doubled in the fifth and scored on a single by Mitch Garver. Buxton has seven hits in his last three games, and three doubles in his last two games.
Arraez added an RBI single in the eighth.
Twins LHP Charlie Barnes was recalled from Triple-A St. Paul. He took the spot of RHP John Gant, who was placed on the injured list after Friday night’s start.
In the final game of the regular season, Twins LHP Charlie Barnes (0-3, 5.86 ERA) will face RHP Jackson Kowar (0-5, 11.28 ERA).
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports