Royals 8, Twins 1
Magic Number: 3
Practically nothing went right for the Twins on Friday night. Francisco Liriano was eaten alive by a relentless stream of bloopers and bleeders, with the occasional liner thrown in for good measure. Up, down, inside, outside - it didn't matter where he threw the ball, the Royals' hitters put it in play somewhere a Twins defender couldn't get to it.
If your pitchers can't get anybody out, you might as well have a horrible night at the plate, too, and the Twins did. Kyle Davies was as on as he can be. Hitters got fastballs when they were expecting sliders, changeups when they were expecting fastballs. Nothing worked. At least Joe Mauer got a couple of hits, raising his average to .331 and extending his lead in the batting race.
That's OK. We just need things to revert to averages now. On average, the Twins win 2 out of every 3 games at home. They'll need to win the last 2 to make sure that happens here. They average just over 5 R/game, which would get them about 15 R per 3-game series. That means they should get 14 R over the next 2 games (7 & 7 would suit me best). They allow an average of 4.63 R/game, or a little under 14 R per series. That means they should only give up 6 R over the next 2 games. The Royals' season averages for runs allowed and scored suggest corresponding outcomes. A couple of 7-3 wins today and tomorrow would be most satisfying. Make that happen, OK fellas?
Fortunately, Ryan Garko and the Cleveland Indians outslugged the White Sox last night, so the Twins are still in first, and the Magic Number has declined to 3. I thought that might be Chicago's best chance to win - from here on out they're starting guys on 3 days' rest. I read that the Indians might skip Cliff Lee on Sunday because he's got a bit of a sore neck. All I can say to that it, "Suck it up, you pussy!" I don't know who would pitch instead of him, but it wouldn't be quite as good, would it? Of course, the Twins have lucked out for Sunday - the Royals have decided to skip Zach Greinke's regular turn because he's already reached 200+ IP. They'll get Brandon Duckworth instead, which should be a lot easier.
If anybody thought the Royals were just going to lay down, that impression should be obliterated after last night. They are the hottest team in the league right now, and the Twins are going to have to fight them with everything they have to claim these last 2 wins and clinch a first-place tie.