The Twins actually struck first in this one when Matt Tolbert doubled home Denard Span in the bottom of the first, the first time all season that the Twins have scored a run in the opening inning of play. Liriano (0-3, 9.42) actually looked alright for the first three innings of this one. . .and then came the fourth inning.
Oh, the fourth inning. How I loathe you. Let's recap quickly, shall we?
Single, single, single, single, single, single. Yeah, that is actually how the inning started. Liriano's pitching wasn't terrible, and there were certainly some defensive miscues behind him, but he was clearly pitching to contact, and that was clearly not working out so well for him. Escobar was picked off 2B for a free out, and a couple ground outs later, the inning was finally over, with the Royals up 6-1.
Liriano pitched five innings on the afternoon, giving up seven runs (all earned) on eight hits.
The Twins would rally in the bottom of the fifth and put up four runs as they batted around, but that's as close as they would get. The Royals picked up an insurance run in the sixth and three more in the ninth to provide the final margin of victory.
Minnesota will now jump on a plane to head back out on the road, as they kick off a four-game set with the equally struggling Tampa Bay Rays starting tomorrow at Tropicana Field. First pitch for tomorrow's opener will take place at 5:40 PM Central time, and will see Carl Pavano (1-1, 6.00 ERA) take the mound for Minnesota. The Rays will counter with right-hander Wade Davis (0-2, 4.38).
The Twins got a victory in extra innings last night against the Kansas City Royals, and will look for the sweep of the abbreviated two-game set in a businessman's special today at Target Field.
Danny Valencia's bases-loaded single in the bottom of the tenth lifted the Twins to a 4-3 victory over the Royals last night, giving Dusty Hughes the victory and giving the Twins a much-needed boost.
Today's pitching match-up will see the Twins send left-hander Francisco Liriano (0-2, 7-71 ERA) to the hill against Kansas City's Kyle Davies (0-1, 9.00). Liriano has been hit hard in his first two starts of 2011, and hasn't made it out of the fifth inning in either of his starts this season.
The first pitch is scheduled for 12:10 PM Central time from Target Field, and it should be a very nice nice day at the ol' ballpark, with temperatures in the mid to upper 50 under partly cloudy skies.
The Minnesota Twins almost blew a big opportunity in the bottom of the tenth inning, but one swing of the bat by Danny Valencia mad everybody forget that.
Valencia's single in the bottom of the tenth inning with the bases loaded brought home Jason Repko with the winning run, and the Twins beat the Kansas City Royals by a final of 4-3 at Target Field on Tuesday night.
While the tenth inning started with Justin Morneau striking out against Royals' reliever Tim Collins, the Royals replaced Collins with Robinson Tejada. Tejada failed to register an out, as he gave up a single to Delmon Young to start his evening. Jason Repko came in to pinch-run for Young, and moved to second when Tejada walked Michael Cuddyer. Then, Jason Kubel ripped a blast to deep right-center field. Rather than go halfway on the play, Repko went back to second base to tag up.
The ball went in and out of the glove of Royals' right fielder Jeff Francoeur, and rather than having a chance to score, Repko wound up at third, loading the bases. It could have been huge. . .however, Valencia ripped one of Tejada's offerings to center field, scoring Repko, and the Twins went home with the victory.
Minnesota scored first on a Joe Mauer sacrifice fly in the third, and the Royals bounced back in the top of the fourth with two runs of their own. A two-run single by Luke Hughes gave the Twins the lead back in the bottom half of the fourth, 3-2. The Royals then tied it in the top of the seventh on an infield single by Miguel Cabrera, which chased Twins' starter Brian Duensing from the game.
That was the last hit that the Royals would get on the evening, as Jose Mijares, Matt Capps, Joe Nathan, and Dusty Hughes combined for four perfect innings in relief of Duensing. Hughes wound up with the victory after pitching a 1-2-3 tenth inning.
The series will conclude tomorrow with an early start, 12:10 PM Central time. The pitching match-up will be Kyle Davies (0-1, 9.00 ERA) for the Royals, and Francisco Liriano (0-2, 7.71) for Minnesota.
I'm going to go out on a limb and make a guarantee, ladies and gentlemen. I will guarantee that, unlike their first two series of 2011, the Minnesota Twins will not lose two out of three to the Kansas City Royals.
I feel confident in making this guarantee because. . .well, because this series with the Royals is only going to be two games long.
The Twins are a mere 3-6 on the new season, having lost two out of three in Toronto, two out of three in New York, and two out of three at home this past weekend to the Oakland Athletics. While the Twins have had a propensity for slow starts the past couple of seasons, the lack of offense thus far has been a bit disturbing. The team recently had a stretch of 16 scoreless innings. . .good if you're a pitcher, bad if you're a 9-man hitting lineup. . .and is right down at the bottom of the league in terms of runs scored.
Tonight, the Twins will send Brian Duensing (0-0, 5.14 ERA) to the mound, and he's had some good success against the Royals in his career. In ten lifetime appearances against Kansas City (seven of which have come in relief), Duensing is 4-0 with a 3.33 ERA. So he's got that going for him. . .which is nice.
The Royals will counter with left-hander Jeff Francis (0-0, 1.98 ERA). This will be his third start for the Royals, but he didn't figure into the decision in either of his first two starts. The Royals are 1-1 in his starts, having beaten the Los Angeles Angels on Opening Day, and falling to the Chicago White Sox on April 6.
The Twins won 13 of 18 against the Royals in 2010. . .they need to hope that they can start righting the ship against Kansas City tonight and tomorrow.