Twins 5, Royals 0
Tonight's game was a lot closer than it appeared, though the Twins were leading big from the 2nd inning on. The Royals helped them out with a misplayed fly ball in the Twins' 4-run inning. Had Teahen made a routine catch, the only run that inning would have scored on Span's first Major-League RBI. Instead, Gomez got a 2-run double, and scored on a single from the white-hot Matt Tolbert. All 3 RBI hits came with 2 outs.
On the other side of the ball, Livan was very fortunate to get through the first 5 innings with no runs allowed. This was especially true in the 5th, when the Royals loaded the bases with one out. Teahen's single was so hard-hit right at Span that the Royals elected not to send the runner home from 2nd. Hernandez then got Guillen to chase a curve ball out of the zone, and retired Billy Butler on a weak grounder. Scouts take note: apparently, the only way to get Butler out is to throw him 60-MPH curve balls.
Luckily, things worked out for the Twins, and they're back to .500 and within 1 game of the division lead. Hopefully Boof Bonser can get more than 1 run of support tomorrow in a re-match of last Sunday's loss.
Span vs. Gomez
Pretty good night for both guys, though, as it was in spring training, Gomez comes out looking better. As I said, Teahen really helped him out in the 2nd, but he hustled all night and hit some balls hard on 2-strike pitches, something we've seen very little of so far. He came within a borderline call of making it 2 games in a row in which he and Young both drew walks. Span was a borderline call away from a 1-3 line. But he picked up his first RBI and OF assist (Butler needs to just be happy he's on first base vs. our OF), and he had another couple of 6-pitch ABs. Gomez had some longer ABs tonight, and Young, for that matter. Maybe Tolbert and Span are rubbing off on them.
Lousy night for Mauer, Kubel, and Lamb (2 of whom are on my fantasy team), although Mauer had a couple of hard-hit balls.
Jesse Crain wasn't out there very long, but he looked fantastic. His fastball was in the mid-90s, and his slider was sharp. He's back!
Kevin Slowey was finally placed on the DL, and Liriano is coming up to start on Sunday. He'll probably be a little rough at first, command-wise, but the Royals aren't walking very much, so maybe they'll help him out. It will be exciting to have him back in any event!
I hope Slowey is able to make a quick recovery. He was the best pitcher in AAA last season, and looked ready to take the next step this spring. When he's finally healthy, the Twins will be in great position to deal Hernandez at the top of his value and perhaps upgrade one of the infield positions.
For as sluggish as the Twins have started, they find themselves in better position than some of their more formidable rivals. With their best baseball still ahead of them, it's not a bad position to be in.