With Justin Morneau and Orlando Hudson out with injuries and Jason Kubel and Jim Thome sitting against a left hander, it didn't appear likely that the Twins would extend their two game streak of at least 19 hits. But last night against the Kansas City Royals, the Twins offense relentlessly pounded out another 19 hits, incluiding 5 doubles and a J.J. Hardy home run in an 11-2 victory at Kauffman Field. With the win, the Twins move to 55-46 on the year and remain one game in back of the division leading Chicago White Sox, who beat up on the Seattle Mariners 11-0 last night, and extend their lead to three games over the Detroit Tigers, who lost 3-2 to the Rays (although they at least managed a hit). Minnesota goes for the 3-game sweep this afternoon in Kansas City. Are another 19 hits in the cards?
Notes, studs and duds follow after the jump.
Denard Span wasted no time leading off the game with a line single over the shortstop. But he also wasted no time getting picked off first by Royals starter Bruce Chen (who would also pick off Nick Punto in the 6th), Denard's 6th pickoff of the season. Joe Mauer picked up Span with a double up the left center field gap, and after Delmon Young was hit on the elbow, Michael Cuddyer lined a single to right field to put the Twins up 1-0. Red hot Danny Valencia followed with a single to left for a 2-0 lead. In the third inning, for the second straight night, Delmon Young smashed a ball off the left field fence for a one out double. Valencia and J.J. Hardy followed with back to back singles and the lead was 4-0.
For the Twins, Carl Pavano was looking for his third straight complete game victory. Given the oppressive heat last week in Baltimore and last night in Kansas City, the Pavstache simply didn't have too much left in the tank. But Pavano gutted out five innings (98 pitches) of one run baseball, and even though he may not have been sharp (3 walks), it was enough for his 13th win on the year.
After Pavano left the game, it was time for the offense to pick him up and tack on a few insurance runs. In the 6th inning, Jason Repko singled in Drew Butera and Joe Mauer hit a sacrifice fly to make it 6-1 Twins. In the bottom of the inning, Ron Mahay did his best to make it a game, giving up 3 hits and a run before giving way to Jesse Crain with two outs. And Crain did what he's been doing for the last two months, getting Jason Kendall to fly out to Delmon and pitching a 1-2-3 seventh for good measure. After Hardy's home run (his first since April 23rd) extended the lead to five, the Twins tore up the soft underbelly of the Royals bullpen with four runs after starting the 8th inning with two straight outs, and the rout was on.
- Michael Cuddyer: 3-5, 2 R, 2 RBI. Contributed +2.25 runs offensively, including a full half run on the basepaths.
- Danny Valencia: 4-5, 3 RBI. Contributed +2.03 runs offensively, and is now 14-19 with 4 doubles, a home run and 8 RBI in his last four games.
- Carl Pavano: 5 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 2 SO. Not his best outing, but he got the job done.
- J.J. Hardy: 3-5, R, 2 RBI, HR. Contributed +1.18 runs offensively, nice to see him finally hit another home run.
- Jesse Crain: 1.1 IP, 0 R, SO. That's 15 straight scoreless outings, 15 innings total, with 7 hits allowed and 15 strikeouts.
- Joe Mauer: 2-4, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 2B. Contributed +1.15 runs, a nice follow-up to his 5-5 night.
- Delmon Young: 2-4, 3 R, RBI. Contributed +0.94 runs, he now has 76 RBI and is batting .330 on the season.
- Ron Mahay: 0.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R. He had bounced back with 16 scoreless outings in his last 18 appearances since early June, lowering his ERA from 6.39 to 3.26, but last night he wasn't very good.
- Nick Punto: 0-4, contributed -1.25 runs offensively, about half due to the pickoff. Span deserves dishonorable mention for his pickoff as well.