MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JULY 14: Trevor Plouffe #24 of the Minnesota Twins watches after hitting a two-run home run against the Kansas City Royals in the fifth inning on July 14, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
It wasn't pretty early. A wild pitch from Francisco Liriano and a bizarre throw from Joe Mauer spotted the Royals a 2-0 lead in the first inning, and then with the bases loaded in the bottom of the first inning Melky Cabrera thew out Alexi Casilla at the plate on a sac fly to end the frame. But after getting runners into scoring position and failing to drive them in during the first, second and fourth innings, Bruce Chen's hittable nature finally caught up with him as the Twins would put together a two-out rally.
Michael Cuddyer's walk with two away set the stage for a four-run fifth. Danny Valencia's double down the right field line plated Cuddy from first, and Delmon Young followed that up with his second double of the game. It wasn't the best swing but it showed what kind of power Delmon really has: he reached for is and more or less chucked his bat through the zone, but he made good contact and basically he just flipped the ball over Alex Gordon's head in left field. It bounced off the wall, scoring Valencia and bringing the Twins to within a run.
Trevor Plouffe timed a couple of sliders, took a fastball for ball one, and then turned on Chen's next slider. Plouffe absolutely destroyed that pitch. Right now Rene Tosoni is having breakfast in Rochester, and a baseball is about to drop into his Wheaties. The homer capped off a big inning for Minnesota who, after finally breaking through, never really looked like they would lose the game.
Two innings later the Twins put up four more, as Blake Wood walked Ben Revere and then plunked Alexi Casilla to bring in a pair. Everett Teaford fed Mauer a fat 2-1 fastball and Joe lined it into the right-center field gap to score two more.
Liriano wasn't his sharpest, but after the mistakes in the first and another early run he slowed himself down. He became a bit more methodical, and while he finished well (his sevent and final inning was his only 1-2-3 inning of the night) he battled through a number of base runners. Jose Mijares walked a pair but put a zero on the board in the eighth, and Phil Dumatrait allowed one run in the ninth.
Casilla, Mauer, Young, Valencia, Plouffe, Nishioka