The Twins managed to pull a .500 record in April despite shoddy pitching and the absence of possibly their best player. That player's return was lauded as the moment that would reignite the Twins offense and unleash the playoff caliber play we expected out of the Twins all season.
He didn't disappoint.
After watching the first two pitches of his season go by, Joe Mauer was ready to go and launched the third into the May Teflon Sky for a solo home run over the left field wall.
Welcome back Joe. By the time Justin Morneau launched a go-ahead two run blast in the fifth, driving in hat would prove to be the winning runs, the M&M boys had combined to go 4-4 with 2 home runs and 2 walks.
Starter Kevin Slowey struggled again, giving up 5 singles and 3 doubles in five innings of work, allowing 5 Royals to cross the plate. But the bullpen had an uncharacteristically dominant outing, pitching 4 scoreless, 2 hit innings in relief of Slowey to seal the 7-5 win. Jose Mijares in particular looked dominant again, striking out the side in the 8th. Matt Guerrier revived a rol he once found great success in: long relief, as he pitched a pair of perfect innings in the seventh and eighth. Lots of fans have been very hard on Guerrier since his struggles last season, and most have written him off as no longer a valuable bullpen commodity. But it's important to remember that before he fell apart last year, it was clear he was being wildly overused by Ron Gardenhire following Pat Neshek's injury and his arm was clearly tiring.
Gardenhire wore his strength down finally, and Guerrier inploded down the stretch, but there's no reason to think he can't go back to his previous several seasons of low 3-ERA's with more moderate usage.
Other Twins made smaller contributions with the bat, like Brenden Harris's two hit night or Nick Punto's big 2-out, 2- RBI linedrive single up the middle, but the hero of the day was clearly the returning Joe Mauer and his silky smooth, St Paul grown swing.
The win pulled the Twins into a tie with the Royals in the division, but the winning White Sox pulled into first and now lead both in the Central by half a game.