Justin Morneau homered and five pitchers combined to hold the Royals in check for a 2-1 win at Kaufman Stadium in Kansas City.
Even though Royals' starter Brian Bannister pitched better, Scott Baker managed to get the win, thanks to a little better defense behind him than Bannister had. Baker labored through five innings, throwing 111 pitches (several on two-strike fouls). But he only gave up one run and ended up evening his record at 6-6 with the help of his defense and the bullpen. Bobby Keppel came in to pitch 2 1/3 scoreless innings of relief and bridge the game to the setup corps. Joe Nathan nailed it down in the ninth for his 20th save.
With the game tied at one apiece, the game turned on two plays in the sixth inning, one not made by the Royals and one made by the Twins:
After a Joe Mauer single, Justin Morneau hit a hard ground ball right at first baseman Billy Butler for a sure double play. But Butler's throw was over the head of shortstop Tony Pena and into left field, allowing Mauer to go to third and Morneau to reach. After a Jason Kubel strikeout, Michael Cuddyer hit a sacrifice fly to right field to put the Twins ahead 2-1.
The Royals threatened in the bottom of the inning but failed to tie it up thanks to good Twins defense. With Keppel pitching, two on and two outs, Brendan Harris dove up the middle to snare a hard ground ball off the bat of pinch hitter Jose Guillen. The only play he had was to shovel the ball to Nick Punto covering second for the inning-ending force out. From there, the bullpen held the Royals in check for the win.
1. Morneau: That's three homers in as many days and a 2-3 night with a walk. He's really starting to heat up as the other M&M boy cools down.
2. Nathan: He has become Mr. Automatic. Despite the one-run lead on the road, there was no anxiety in the dugout.
3. Keppel: He is everything Luis Ayala was not. Most of all, he's been effective in his two outings.
1. Punto: He's looked totally clueless since coming off the DL. You know it's bad when you stat to ask why Gardy doesn't use Tolbert.
2. Butler: If you can't play defense you have to hit. Mike Jacobs has to be better than this guy at first base.
3. Kubel: 0-4 with 2 Ks and 5 LOB. Ouch.