Minneapolis Melky Cabrera and Felipe Paulino were given fresh starts by Kansas City in 2011. The two showed Monday night why they have the Royals excited for 2012.
Cabrera became the first Kansas City player in 11 years to reach 200 hits, and Paulino (4-6) won for the third time in his last four decisions as the Royals topped the Minnesota Twins, 7-3.
Cabrera hit an infield single and scored the game’s opening run in the first inning, then another infield single for his 201st hit to spark a four-run sixth. He became the sixth player in Kansas City history to eclipse 200 hits and the first since Johnny Damon and Mike Sweeney both did it in 2000. Cabrera’s previous career best for hits in a season was 149 in 2007 while with the New York Yankees.
“I’m very thankful for the Kansas City Royals organization for giving me the chance to play here every day,” Cabrera said through interpreter and teammate Brayan Pena. “I never thought this offseason I would have a season like I’ve had, but I work hard and try to do my best to improve my game.”
Kevin Slowey (0-8) was tagged with the loss for Minnesota, its third straight against the Royals. The Twins must win both of their final two games against Kansas City to avoid its second 100-loss season since moving to the Twin Cities in 1961.
Cabrera has combined with Alex Gordon and Jeff Francoeur to lead all Major League outfields with a .298 collective batting average, 581 hits, 218 extra-base hits, 141 doubles and 937 total bases.
The trio is also among the top four with 296 runs, 270 RBI and a .831 OPS. They are three of only five players in baseball with at least 40 doubles, 15 homers and 15 steals.