Twins 4, Royals 3
Another solid game for the pitching staff, and some good hitting and aggressive base running led to the win.
Scott Baker really labored in the first 2 innings. I thought the game was going to last 4 hours the way he was going. Credit the KC hitters for spoiling a lot of pitches and laying off others. So many 5+ pitch ABs. And when they did put them in play, they fell in. Thinking about Slowey's short start yesterday, I wasn't sure what the bullpen was going to do if Baker didn't make it to the 6th. But he settled in, setting down 11 in a row after John Buck's RBI single in the 2nd. The Royals helped out by swinging early in the count and putting balls in play. In the end, despite a rather tight pitch count, Baker managed to pitch 6.2 innings, enough for Neshek and Nathan to take it the rest of the way.
Carlos Gomez had another good game. He got a bunt hit leading off, stole second and scored on Mauer's single. He got another infield hit in the 4th, stole second again, but was stranded when Mauer grounded out. Then he drilled a double in his last AB. He is having about as good a first week with the Twins as anyone could have hoped.
Morneau finally got a hit and another RBI, though Cuddyer was injured on the play while sliding into 3rd. Kubel pinch ran and scored on a groundout by Young. In his other 3 ABs, Morneau struck out and hit into 2 DPs. He's not quite out of the woods yet.
I enjoyed the sequence of events in the 4th inning. Lamb led off with a double, Tolbert sacrificed him to third, then Everett brought him home with a suicide squeeze. Many will deride the use of two sacrifices in an inning, but with light-hitting middle infielders coming up, and Gomez not yet accomplished at hitting with men in scoring position, it was good to see the bottom of the order produce a run using their higher percentage skills.
With Cuddyer headed to the 15-day DL, Denard Span will get his first taste of the Majors this weekend. Whether Gardy will want Kubel to be the RF most of the time, or LF and switch Young to RF, or put Span in CF and move Gomez to RF (as was the case in several spring training games) remains to be seen. If he doesn't start, Span will certainly get some opportunities as a pinch-runner or defensive replacement for Kubel. I thought he earned a spot on the roster in the first place, so I'm happy to see him get a chance so soon, though, obviously, these aren't the best circumstances. Hopefully, he will acquit himself well, and at least prove that he has some value in a future trade.