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Twins Sweep Royals, Michael Cuddyer Homers Twice In One Inning

Good news, everyone!  Twins 10, Royals 3

Carl Pavano rolled through most of his afternoon, mowing down Kansas City impressively for five innings, throwing up zeros and his hands in the air like he just didn't care.  He allowed a few singles until he crested, retiring ten in a row to take him through the end of the fifth.

Mike Jacobs singled in David DeJesus for a run in the sixth, and after the Twins scored eight in the top of the seventh Pavano came out for the seventh as well.  Mark Teahen and Mitch Maier both singled to start the frame before Pavano was able to fight back, and he allowed just one more run before finishing the seventh inning (and his afternoon) with 108 pitches.

Pounding the strike zone with mostly fastballs and changeups his first time through the Royals order, Pavano adjusted the second time through, throwing more sinking fastballs and sliders.  He was around the plate all afternoon, and he made the Royals earn every single they picked up.  Of the eight hits Pavano surrendered, only DeJesus' double to lead off the top of the sixth was for extra bases.  No walks and just two strikeouts, he succeeded by inducing contact and keeping his defense active.  Outfielders fought the sun, and Brendan Harris flashed some quick reflexes, but for the most part the defense did it's job without flash or error.

This was also the game that should probably show the Royals fans, players and front office that sending Alex Gordon down to triple-A (for service time I'm sure, regardless of the official why) was the wrong move.  Teahen was playing manning the hot corner this afternoon, and proceeded to let a small handfull of hits trickle or fly by him.  On the opposite corner of the infield, Billy Butler is much the same--a talented athlete who's even less mobile.  Josh Anderson in right field didn't have a good afternoon, either.

Bob Keppel pitched a scoreless inning, his third scoreless appearances in ten over the course of August.  Jeff Manship pitched the eighth, allowing one run by tightening up after letting his first two hitters get on base.

Offensively the story of the game would be one Michael Cuddyer.  Cuddyer homered twice, dropping bomb numbers 21 and 22 in the eight-run seventh.  That feat means Cuddyer is the first Twin to homer twice in the same inning.  Congratulations, sir!  (Hat tip:  fischean)

Denard Span picked up a triple and three RBI, with Brendan Harris and Orlando Cabrera each tallying a double to join the extra-base hit parade.  Every Minnesota hitter picked up at least one hit, with Cuddyer, Span, Joe Mauer and Carlos Gomez picking up multiple-hit days.

Most importantly, the number one thing for today:  while the Twins won, the White Sox lost.  If the Tigers can't overcome a 5-1 deficit in the seventh, the'll lose too.  With any luck, Minnesota will be just 4.5 games out when the sun comes up tomorrow morning.  Division-leading Detroit lost too, after a late pounding from the A's, leaving the Twinks just 4.5 games out.

Three wins in a row = winning streak.  Here's hoping we can ride this crest for a few days.

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Stars of the Game
#3:  Denard Span  (2-for-5, 3B, 3 RBI, R, .103 WPA)
#2:  Carl Pavano  (7 IP, 8 H, 2 K, 2 R, 0 BB, .206 WPA)
#1:  Michael Cuddyer  (3-for-5, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, .222 WPA)

Quote of the Game Thread, from tobynotjason:

Posted this to SBG too:

After Delmon’s PA last inning I poked around Baseball Reference a little. I know his historically consistent 2nd-half improvement is well-known, but check this split out — it’s one I haven’t seen mentioned (and I apologize if it has been):
CAREER vs. Power pitchers (28%or more K+BB rate): .508 OPS.
                 Vs. Avg Power/Finesse (24-28% K+BB rate): .720.
                 Vs. Finesse pitchers (less than 24% K+BB rate): .951 OPS.

No, that is NOT typical. But it IS dramatic. Basically, if a pitcher relies on his stuff to strike guys out, he’s going to to own Delmon. If he relies on suppressing walks and/or inducing groundballs (the usual picture of a guy with less than 24% K+BBs, D. Young’s decent to great. If Prof. Gardenhire took note of this and benched him against power pitchers, his overall numbers would look pretty darn good. The problem, of course, is that means Gomez and his .474 OPS vs. Power pitchers (he splits like Young only worse across the board) plays, so it doesn’t get the team very far, I suppose. Still, though, interesting numbers.