Twins 4, Royals 3 (12 innings)
Twins 9, Royals 8 (10 innings)
Twins 5, Royals 1
What an amazing road trip. The Twins went 5-1 despite allowing as many runs as they scored (36). Always a good thing to concentrate the sucking into a single game!
I feel really bad for the Royals and their fans. We've been there, at least those of us who loved the Twins through the '90's. That the Royals renaissance has yet to take hold must be unbearable for their faithful. And after showing signs of being much improved just a couple weeks ago, to now be in the midst of yet another double-digit losing streak, how awful. And to have that streak prolonged after being comfortably ahead with 2 out in the 9th inning must be utterly soul-crushing. No wonder Guillen snapped.
Delmon Young made things a lot harder than they needed to be. Clearly, his attempt at a sliding catch in the 9th on Tuesday was ill-advised. I do appreciate the enthusiasm, but I would have flipped my lid if another game had been thrown away by defensive ineptitude. Incredibly, he was even worse on Wednesday. Kudos for Gardy for having the good sense to finally sit him down and end his undeserved consecutive-games streak. With that out of the way, he can more easily sit out several times over the remainder of the season.
Nick Blackburn and Kevin Slowey both took shutouts into the 9th inning. I know the Royals haven't exactly been lighting it up lately, but one has to be impressed with their progress this season. Livan Hernandez, meanwhile, got blown to bits once again, by the afore-mentioned team that hasn't been lighting it up. Who's eating the innings now? While the Twins talk of sending Boof to the bullpen and potentially releasing Bass or Rincon to make room for Scott Baker, I wonder when the conversation will turn to releasing Livan. Surely, the optimum time to trade him has passed us by.
Michael Cuddyer has been in a horrible slump, but it was easy to see why the hits were so difficult to come by on Tuesday and Wednesday. He went 3 for 11 in the two games (good for him, lately), the hits coming on fastballs knee-high on the outside corner that he poked into right or right-center. The Royals pitchers did a very good job of spotting their fastball in that location, then mixing in sliders or splitters that start in that location before diving out of the zone. With two strikes, it's difficult for Cuddy not to try to protect out there, but he ends up looking bad when the breaking balls land in the dirt. He may have to determinedly take 2 strikes in order to try to force pitchers to come back up and over the plate.
Gardy looked pretty good on Wednesday night, didn't he? He received a ton of criticism over the last week or so for using Joe Nathan so sparingly in close or extra-inning games. I agreed that after throwing just 10 pitches in the 9th on Tuesday, it would have been sensible to send him back out for the 11th. The Royals used their closer for 2 innings and 31 pitches. For some reason, that made him absolutely unavailable for Wednesday, and when the 9th spun out of control, they didn't go to Soria. I doubt he would have needed more than 3 or 4 pitches to dispatch Craig Monroe. Anyway, Monroe came through, and there was Nathan, fresh as a daisy, to collect the save for the Twins in the bottom of the 10th.
Carlos Gomez has had a much better May. I'll go over the numbers after Saturday's game is complete, but I don't think there's much he can do in the next 2 games to diminish his accomplishments this month. His overall approach at the plate has been better, and he's played much better defense. He's still got a ways to go, so I hope the trend continues throughout the summer. I won't say putting him on the team out of spring training was the right decision, but it doesn't look like such a bad decision right now.