See more of the story

Bailey Ober, by all measures, has been a solid major league starting pitcher throughout his four-year career. Except when he's facing the Kansas City Royals.

Ober, in a 6-1 loss, surrendered nine hits and six runs over five innings Wednesday at Target Field, the most damage he's allowed in a start since he faced the Royals in his season debut. Ober owns a 7.71 ERA in nine career starts against his division rival.

"Whenever I throw against them, it seems to go that way right now," Ober said. "It's frustrating. Every time I go out there, I'm expecting to be able to turn in a good outing and lately that hasn't turned out that way against those guys."

It's a confounding kryptonite. Ober displayed fine command, inducing several swings and misses between his fastball and cutter. He threw a first-pitch strike to 18 of his 24 batters. He didn't walk anyone. It was still one of his worst starts of the year.

He wanted to throw slightly fewer fastballs than usual, suspecting that was the Royals' game plan against him, but even when he mixed them in more selectively, they crushed the pitch.

"Maybe there's something there," Ober said, "but they're just ready for that pitch right now."

Ober was doomed during a four-run third inning. Bobby Witt Jr. poked an opposite-field RBI single through the right side of the infield, and Salvador Perez followed with an RBI double off the left-field wall when he connected with a cutter off the outside corner. Perez has reached base in 43 of his last 45 games.

Two batters later, Nelson Velázquez crushed a full-count cutter past the center-field fence for a two-run, two-out homer.

"I think maybe two [cutters] were bad," Ober said. "One of them was the home run and the other one was a single. Everything else was weak contact on it."

In the fifth inning, Perez hammered a fastball for a no-doubter, solo homer to center. Velázquez, again following Perez's lead, hit another fastball into the left field seats for the third multi-homer game of his career.

Ober, who allowed nine hits and eight runs in 1⅓ innings in Kansas City on March 31, has yielded a 19.90 ERA in his two starts against Kansas City this year and a 3.02 ERA against every other team. The Royals hit six of the 10 homers he's allowed.

"It is what it is," Ober said. "I don't know."

BOXSCORE: Kansas City 6, Twins 1

The Twins had a 1-0 lead in the second inning against Royals righthander Seth Lugo, who has an MLB-best 1.72 ERA, with contributions from the bottom three hitters in their lineup. Willi Castro lined a double down the right-field line, Carlos Santana blooped a single to center and Jose Miranda hit a sacrifice fly to the warning track in left field.

"I thought it was gone," Miranda said. "It's a tough one. I hit it 101 mph. I hit it to left field, which you would've thought it was going to go. At least we got one run, but yeah, I thought it was gone."

Lugo, who allowed six hits and three walks in six innings, escaped jams with strikeouts. After a pair of two-out singles in the first inning, Lugo struck out Ryan Jeffers in an eight-pitch at-bat.

With two runners on base and one out in the fifth inning, Lugo struck out Max Kepler on a called third strike on the 12th pitch of their at-bat. Lugo, who throws eight different pitches and used each of them in that at-bat, pumped his fist when he froze Kepler with a sinker.

The Twins went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

"We had some long at-bats," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "Individually we had some good at-bats. I don't want to talk about what-ifs. We could have done more."