Today's game is just what the title suggests--a lack of execution at opportune times. Or inopportune times, I think they were the same today. With Zack Greinke on the mound any and all teams need to take advantage of all chances they can get. That didn't happen.
Francisco Liriano had a terrible day. A 20-pitch first inning didn't net a run for the Royals, but it set the tone. The second inning saw Lizzy give up a pair of extra-base hits, a passed ball and a trio of walks, although only one of the free passes cost Minnesota. Yunieksy Betancourt got around on a 95-mph fastball for a three-run homer about halfway through the frame, and although it was all Kansas City would get it cost Liriano dearly. 25 pitches in the inning is all it took to chase him from the game with runners on the corners and two away. Jeff Manship applied pressure to the wound and momentarily stopped the bleeding.
Ultimately Liriano just couldn't consistently locate...well, anything. He tried taking something off his fastball, that didn't work. He reared back and got everything into the fastball, and if it actually hit the strikezone it probably got smacked. The changeup was useless, and without the fastball or the changeup the slider was useless, too. And once Liriano started to fly off the rails, all borderline pitches went in favor of the Royals...and rightfully so.
Still, the game was never out of hand. Orlando Cabrera doubled in the first, but was stranded. Jose Morales grounded into a double play to kill a possible rally in the second. With the bases loaded in the third Greinke got through Cabrera, then struck out Joe Mauer and Jason Kubel to escape unscathed. With two men on and nobody out in the sixth, the Royals Ace fought back to get three consecutive outs, allowing just one run. Morales and Matt Tolbert reached to lead off the seventh before Greinke sat down three in a row.
Crucial chances, all wasted. That's what great pitchers can do to a hot team, and that's what Greinke did to the Twins. He made us his bitches.
Kubel hit into Minnesota's second double play in the eighth, which was painful considering the single and hit-by-pitch that followed, which you know by now netted the Twins another zero in the frame. Denard Span and Cabrera hit back-to-back two out singles in the ninth, but Joakim Soria completed his two inning save by inducing Mauer to ground out to first base.
The Twins tried. They did. Their tide was simply stemmed at every opportunity. Cabrera stranded five runners. Mauer stranded six and Kubel stranded seven. It's not just about what you do, it's also about when you do it. Orlando and Joe combined for five hits today, but neither tallied a run batted in.
On the plus side the White Sox knocked off the Tigers to, once again, keep the deficit at two games. Tomorrow's opening tilt for the (as of yet) more serious series of the season takes on a far more intense nature as a result. Winning three of four would mean a tie for the division title with just three games to decide the crown. A series tie would reduce Minnesota's title hopes to a prayer, while anything less would guarantee elimination.
No stars and no duds tonight. It's time to focus on the Tigers.
Thanks once again to fischean for supplying us with an overflow thread. Even the moderators can't make every game, so kudos for stepping up! If one of the moderators aren't around anyone should feel free to step in and take it upon themselves to provide a thread where things don't slow down.