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Twins' Offense Strikes Early And Often In 8-2 Victory Over Royals

Earlier in the day on Thursday, the Twins put both Jim Thome and Jason Kubel on the 15-day disabled list. Joe Mauer wasn't in the lineup, either, as he's still down in Fort Myers going through extended spring training.

So, with those three guys out of the lineup, it makes perfect sense that the Twins put together one of their better offensive games of the season on Thursday night against the Kansas City Royals, with a six-run third inning being the highlight of an 8-2 triumph at Kauffman Stadium to snap the Twins' four-game losing streak.

Both teams scored single runs in the first inning, with Minnesota's run coming courtesy of a fielder's choice by Michael Cuddyer, and Kansas City's run in the bottom half coming on an RBI double by Jeff Francoeur. However, it was the top of the third that was the big one for the Twins, as they sent ten batters to the plate and put a six-spot on the board against Royals' starter Sean O'Sullivan.

The inning started with Alexi Casilla singling to right field, and advancing to third on a single by Justin Morneau. Michael Cuddyer then doubled to left field, bringing Casilla home and putting runners on second and third, giving the Twins a 2-1 lead. Danny Valencia then hit a ground ball to Royals' second baseman Mike Aviles, but Aviles threw the ball away, allowing Valencia to reach and scoring Morneau from third to increase the Minnesota lead to 3-1.

Cuddyer then, inexplicably, attempted to steal third, and was gunned down by Royals' catcher Matt Treanor. Delmon Young then singled, and rather than potentially having the bases loaded with nobody out, the Twins had runners on first and second with one out. Ben Revere then struck out swinging for the second out of the inning, and it looked like the Twins would squander a golden opportunity.

Then, the Twins put together four consecutive hits to really blow things open. Rene Rivera singled to score Valencia and make the lead 4-1 for Minnesota. Matt Tolbert then singled to score Young, and the Twins wound up with runners on second and third as both Rivera and Tolbert moved up 90 feet on the throw to the plate. O'Sullivan then uncorked a wild pitch to allow Rivera to score, making the lead 6-1, and Denard Span singled to left-center to score Tolbert and increase the Minnesota lead to 7-1. Casilla, who led off the inning, then struck out to end it against Royals reliever Nick Adcock, but the damage had already been done.

Kansas City got one of those runs back in the bottom of the fifth on another RBI double by Francoeur, but the Twins answered back in the top of the seventh when Revere's RBI double scored Delmon Young to make the score 8-2 and end the scoring for the evening.

Anthony Swarzak put together his second straight outstanding start for the Twins, scattering seven hits over six innings and allowing two runs in a victorious effort. It was his first victory on the season, increasing his record to 1-2, and his ERA dropped to 3.43. Jose Mijares, Alex Burnett, and Matt Capps each pitched one scoreless inning in relief. O'Sullivan took the loss for the Royals, allowing seven runs (only three of which were earned) on eight hits in 2.2 innings of work. His record on the season is now 2-5.

The same two teams will get together at Kauffman Stadium again tomorrow night, with the first pitch again scheduled for 7:10 PM Central time. The pitching match-up will see right-hander Carl Pavano (2-5, 5.19 ERA) take the mound for the Twins, and left-hander Danny Duffy (0-0, 4.11 ERA) taking the hill for Kansas City.

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