MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 29: Josh Willingham #16 of the Minnesota Twins hits a single against the Kansas City Royals during the fifth inning on April 29, 2012 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Royals 7-4. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
We talked in the pregame about how well Bruce Chen had been performing so far in 2012, and about how the Twins would need to upset not just the things he's done so well to this point but how they'd also need to have a little luck go their way. They did that and then some, helping Chen regress to the mean in less than three innings.
All nine Twins came to bat in the first, with the first four batters reaching before Justin Morneau finally recorded the initial out of the frame with a strikeout on a foul tip. By then it was already 3-0, thanks to some heads up base running by Denard Span and a screaming line drive into the gap by Josh Willingham that ended up being Minnesota's first triple of the game. The Twins would add another run to extend the lead to 4-0 by the time the inning turned over.
Willingham would continue to show off in his impressive return to the team, doubling to lead off the third and scoring on a Danny Valencia triple. Both Willingham and Valencia picked up three hits on the day, with Josh finishing a home run shy of the cycle.
Jason Marquis, meanwhile, was good enough - recording a "quality start" by going six and allowing just a trio of runs. He did exactly what Chen had been doing all season: not hurting himself. The Royals scored six hits but no walks, and Marquis managed a single strikeout.
The bullpen was mostly solid, with Jared Burton and Glen Perkins tossing scoreless innings. Matt Capps, in a non-save situation, allowed a run off a walk and two hits. But his ERA is still lower than Perk's. For what that's worth.
With today's win the Twins claw their way into a tie for fourth/last place in the AL Central, stopping their losing streak at six. Studs, duds and notes after the jump.
- Chen was a hot mess this afternoon. He couldn't finish off hitters, was inefficient, and in the situations where he needed to make a good pitch it just didn't happen.
- For Marquis, his biggest issue today was his inability to A) get ahead of hitters, and B) to then stay ahead, when he did. But where Chen failed in terms of command, effectiveness, and efficiency, Marquis came out ahead. For him, today, that was the difference.
- The Twins have scored 19 runs in their last three games. Only the last one included offensive juggernaut Josh Willingham, so it's nice to see the team can produce runs without him.
- When Denard Span and Jamey Carroll both reached to kick off the bottom of the first, a cautious Bruce Chen attempted ten pickoff throws.
- Span also had an outfield assist today, gunning down the struggling Jeff Francoeur at third base.
- Mauer had a ball fouled off his knee late in the game, but didn't leave the contest. He'll be treating it on the place to Los Angeles and hopes to be in the lineup tomorrow.
- Turns out Trevor Plouffe is...um...afraid to fly? Love this.