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KC@MIN: Mariot gets strikeout in Major League debut

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Royals weren't on Target this time.

Kansas City's seven-game winning streak at Target Field ended on Friday night as the Minnesota Twins re-established their claim to home ground with a 10-1 victory. The Royals hadn't lost at Target since June 29, 2013, and they were 8-2 last year in the Land of the 10,000 Lakes.

But KC's first invasion of 2014 hit rough sledding when starting pitcher Bruce Chen had the Royals rotation's shortest outing this year -- 3 2/3 innings. He burned up 87 pitches in that short span.

"I was falling behind a lot of the hitters and I wasn't pounding the strike zone like I usually do," Chen said. "I wasn't commanding my pitches as well as I wanted to and it ended up costing me."

Maybe the Twins are onto something. Kyle Gibson pitched 6 1/3 innings for the victory and it was Gibson, in his Major League debut no less, who had last beaten the Royals at Target Field.

"Five hits was all we could muster all night long and one run," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "It started out good for us, we got a run in the first inning. You're thinking OK, we can add on to that, but we never quite could."

A twisting catch by right fielder Nori Aoki that wasn't really a catch helped the Twins take a 2-1 lead against Chen in the first inning. Jason Kubel's long drive was gloved by Aoki in right field, but the ball got away and bounced off the wall and back into his mitt. But the bounce made it no catch and the hit went for a run-scoring triple.

"I couldn't tell," Yost said. "[First-base umpire] Jeff Nelson had it. He said that he thought it hit glove-wall-glove, and I think that's what they said in the replay."

Chen was lifted with two outs and two runs home in the fourth inning. Josmil Pinto opened the inning with a 404-foot home run to left field. A hit and a walk preceded two outs and Joe Mauer's RBI single.

"He just wasn't sharp and when he's not sharp, the result generally is high pitch counts and that's exactly what happened to him," Yost said. "We had high pitch counts all night long, I think we averaged 25 pitches an inning and if you do that, you're going to get the result that we got."

Next came a couple of interesting firsts for Royals pitching. Louis Coleman made his first appearance of the year after coming off the disabled list and Michael Mariot made his Major League debut.

Coleman, returning from a jammed middle finger on his pitching hand, took over for Chen. He issued a walk, made two wild pitches and surrendered a two-run double by Chris Colabello that made it a five-run inning. Coleman, though, recovered to pitch a 1-2-3 fifth inning.

"It was the first time out all year and he was a little rusty. His second inning was probably the best inning we had all night," Yost said.

The finger, Coleman said, was no problem.

"I didn't feel it at all, actually. It feels good, and I think it's fully healed and everything," he said. "It's just getting the rust off the edges and everything."

Mariot, a right-hander up from Triple-A Omaha, made his debut in the sixth inning. After one scoreless inning, Mariot gave up two runs in the seventh on two walks and Kurt Suzuki's double.

"I was pretty nervous," Mariot said. "Coming in after that first inning, I was joking around because I was shaking the whole time, especially sitting there, just all the adrenaline pumping. It was fun."

Mariot piled up a total of 50 pitches in his two innings.

"It was OK. The first inning was good, the second inning was a little shaky," he said. "I just found myself rushing and trying to be too fine instead of just trusting my stuff."

Yost recognized that Mariot was fighting through some debut nerves.

"His stuff was really good; he needs to throw more strikes," Yost said.

Clubhouse operations director Jeff Davenport handed Mariot a bag of about a half-dozen baseballs that the rookie threw in his debut, including one for his first strikeout -- of Mauer.

"I'm pretty excited to get to keep it and give it to my parents," Mariot said. "Put 'em on the shelf."

The Twins, after being swept in their first three home games by Oakland, rebounded with an 11-hit barrage.

"The offense came through," Twins interim manager Terry Steinbach said. "The thing that sticks out in my mind was the two-out hits we got [five]. We capitalized on hitting with guys in scoring position, and it kind of broke the game open for us."

The Royals sputtered with only a first-inning run off Gibson. Omar Infante, back after missing two games, singled to right, advanced on Eric Hosmer's single and a wild pitch, then scored as Billy Butler grounded out. Shortstop Pedro Florimon bobbled the ball but still got Butler.

Infante has a six-game hitting streak going (9-for-22, .409) after going 0-for-4 in his first game with the Royals.

Mike Moustakas, after having just one hit in his first seven games, went 2-for-4 with a double. He's a terror against the Twins. In his last nine games against them, he's hit .395 with three homers and nine RBIs.

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