Nick Blackburn showed us not too long ago that the best way to prevent the worst bullpen in the majors from blowing a lead is to not allow them into the game. On Friday night in Kansas City, Carl Pavano decided to follow his lead.
Pavano pitched a complete game for the Twins at Kauffman Stadium on Friday night, and the Twins got their second straight victory over the Kansas City Royals with a 5-2 decision. The victory for Pavano was the 100th of his career, and his first since April 24 of this season.
Minnesota got the early advantage in this one, taking a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning courtesy of a Denard Span double that plated Ben Rever and Drew Butera. Then, with one out in the third inning, Michael Cuddyer touched up Royals' starter Danny Duffy for a solo home run, his sixth of the season, to give the Twins a 3-0 lead.
Kansas City responded with two runs in the bottom of the fourth, one coming courtesy of an infield single by Royals' catcher Brayan Pena, and the second coming via a single to right by Alex Gordon. That cut the Minnesota lead to 3-2, but that's as close as Kansas City would get on the night.
The Twins' other two runs came from the most unlikely of sources. . .the bat of Drew Butera. In the top of the sixth, Butera laced a double to left field to score Luke Hughes and increase Minnesota's lead to 4-2. Then, in the top of the eighth, the Twins had Delmon Young on third base and Ben Revere on second with one out, and Butera lifted fly ball to center deep enough to score Young and make the score 5-2, but Revere got tagged out at third, ending the inning with no further damage from the Twins.
That was all Pavano needed, however, as he allowed just two hits over his final five innings of work, both singles, en route to increasing his 2011 record to 3-5. Duffy took the loss for the Royals in his first decision of the season.
The same two teams will battle it out again on Saturday at Kauffman Stadium, with the first pitch scheduled for 6:10 PM Central time. The Twins will hand the ball to right-hander Nick Blackburn (4-4, 3.57 ERA) for that one, while the Royals will go with righty Luke Hochevar (3-5, 4.96 ERA).