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Preview: Twins Go For the Sweep Against Kansas City

The Minnesota Twins got themselves in a huge hole early, and nearly did enough to get a comeback victory, but it wasn't enough as they fell to the Kansas City Royals 9-8 on Thursday night at Target Field.

Scott Baker got off to a rough start for the Twins, as he gave up back-to-back home runs in the second inning.  Mitch Maier hit a two-run shot, and that was followed up by a solo blast by Wilson Betemit.  Overall, Baker gave up five runs and eight hits in five innings before getting pulled for Jesse Crain prior to the sixth inning.

Crain then came in and was the victim of a nasty set of circumstances, as he was the victim of Minnesota's first three-error inning since July 26, 2003.  Nick Punto made errors on consecutive plays at shortstop, and Matt Tolbert made an error at second to add to the misery.  Overall, once the dust settled, the Twins were down 8-1 after six innings of play.

The Minnesota comeback started in the bottom of the seventh, as they erupted for five runs.  After Jason Kubel struck out to begin the inning, the Twins put six consecutive hits together, including an RBI double for Punto, and RBI singles for Denard Span, Tolbert, and Joe Mauer.  A Justin Morneau sacrifice fly made the score 8-6, but Michael Cuddyer's pop-up to second ended the Minnesota rally.

It stayed that way until the top of the ninth inning, when Betemit hit his second home run, this one from the right side of the plate (his earlier shot came from the left side) to make it 9-6.  That turned out to be the winning margin, as the Twins put together two runs with two outs in the ninth against Joakim Soria, but came up just short when Cuddyer flew out to right to end it.

The Minnesota homestand continues tonight, as interleague play will resume with the Twins hosting the red-hot Atlanta Braves.  Friday night's pitching matchup will see Atlanta's Tim Hudson (6-1, 2.44 ERA) taking on Minnesota's Francisco Liriano (5-3, 3.10).

For more on last night's game and all your other Twins-related news, be sure to head on over to Twinkie Town.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.