Long live the powerful reign of Trevor Plouffe.
Billy Butler's leadoff single in the fourth was the first hit that Francisco Liriano allowed, but that's not where the trouble started. The Royals would tie the game at one, but it wasn't until the sixth that things nearly got away from the Twins.
After a deep fly out to kick off the frame, a single and a hit batter were followed up by two deflected balls that led to a pair of runs and the end of the line for Liriano. Jeff Gray came on with runners on second and third and just one out, allowing Irving Falu to double and plate both runs to extend the Kansas City lead to four.
To that point the Twins had scratched Bruce Chen for just two runs, one of which was Trevor Plouffe's 17th home run of the season. At the time it gave him sole possession of the team lead for homers this year.
For the past few days it's become evident that Plouffe and Josh Willingham are putting on a display of power that we haven't seen from two players since 2009. Both could finish with 30 home runs, and that was a thought I had before the game was even over.
As if to answer the Royals, Brian Dozier led off Minnesota's sixth with a triple off the glove of Jason Bourgeois. Denard Span attempted a swinging bunt, scoring the run but easily retired for the first out of the inning. Only then, after the first out was recorded and the first run of the inning scored, did the rally get started.
Jamey Carroll works an 11-pitch walk off Chen, fouling off three pitches in a row...twice. Joe Mauer ripped a single right back up the middle. Willingham decided he didn't like second place on the team in home runs, and launched his 17th over the wall into the bullpen in left-center field.
Two batters later, Plouffe re-took his team lead. He jumped all over a first-pitch slider from an already shaken Bruce Chen, pulling it into the home run porch in left. Chen was pulled. The crowd was in a frenzy. It was a gorgeous inning.
Glen Perkins tried to make it interesting in the ninth, allowing a trio of runs to get us to the final score, but it was too little too late for the Royals. The Twins take three of four on the weekend, and we're starting to see certain players stand out. Plouffe and Willingham are stars, Mauer is an All-Star for the fifth time, and in spite of some hard luck today Liriano is pitching better.
Rest up, we'll see you tomorrow! Notes, studs and duds after the jump.
- On May 17, Joe had slumped to .265/.379/.360. After today he's batting .324/.414/.445. Yeah, he deserves that All-Star nomination.
- Trevor Plouffe hit .327/.391/.735 in June. With his two homers today he's on pace to hit 32 home runs. This month.
- In his last 36 games, Plouffe has hit 17 home runs. At that pace over a full 162-game season, he'd hit 77 homers.
- On May 24, Jared Burton's ERA was 4.86. Since then he's made 16 appearances, accumulating 16.1 innings. He's struck out 15, walked 5, and allowed one earned run.