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Royals 9, Twins 8: Well Played, Mauer...but Royals Avoid the Sweep as Hardy Goes to Disabled List

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Twins can't overcome early deficit, drop series finale to lose out on the sweep.

Kansas City scored a trio in the second, another trio in the sixth and a pair of runs in between, giving them a large early lead that Minnesota just couldn't get over.  Mitch Maier and Wilson Betemit both went deep in the third off Scott Baker, and while Jason Kubel's solo shot in the fourth put the Twins on the board it was one of few bright spots before the seventh inning.

Scott Baker's performance was underwhelming.  His night finished after five innings and five runs, with a single run tagged on in each the fourth and fifth innings.  Much like Kevin Slowey, who until recently had been inefficient in his pitch counts, Baker had some trouble putting hitters away.  Of the 24 batters he faced, nine had plate appearances lasting five pitches or more.

On the night, Baker threw just five changeups and three curveballs, with most of his output going to his fastball and slider combination.

The Twins did manage to make the game interesting late, by putting up five runs in the seventh.  After Kubel struck out to start the frame, six consecutive hits cut the deficit to 8-5.  A Justin Morneau sac fly would bring the Twins to within two.

In the top of the ninth inning, Mauer made what can only be described as a creative out.  Maier popped one up behind the screen, but Mauer gave chase, reached around the screen and snow-coned the ball for the out.  Check out the video here.

But Betemit went deep for the second time in the game (both his only two homers of the season) off Brian Duensing, and the three-run hole was the Twins' un-doing in the end.  Denard Span, Mauer and Morneau combined for two runs to make it tight, but there was no comeback in Minneapolis tonight.

The really big news is that J.J. Hardy is going back on the disabled list (retroactive to June 6).  In between his two stints, he hit just .132/.175/.158 in 40 plate appearances.  As Jon mentioned in the FanShot last night, he's eligible to come off the DL on June 21.  In his stead, the Twins are calling up Trevor Plouffe once again.

Plouffe, who was 3-for-13 with a double, three RBI and five strikeouts in his first stint with the club, has been hitting .280/.338/.453 with the Red Wings this season.

It looks like your infield for the next few games will be exactly what none of us expected:  Valencia at third, Plouffe at short and Punto at second.  With Casilla on the shelf as well and Harris playing poorly, the infield is running thin on the ground.

Notes, studs and duds after the jump.

  • Jesse Crain was lit up by the Royals.  He retired just two hitters, walking one and giving up two hits en route to another three-run outing.
  • In case anyone is wondering, Anthony Slama has struck out 40 batters in 34.1 innings of work, and has allowed just 15 hits.  Yes, 15 hits.
  • Valencia is hitting .308 after seven games, but has walked just once and hasn't recorded an extra base hit.  But for his first week, I think it's safe to say he's holding his own, and he's made a couple of nice plays from third base.
  • Nick Punto committed a pair of errors in the game, and probably a base running gaffe as well.
  • Matt Tolbert?  Error.
  • Did I mention that J.J. Hardy, Orlando Hudson and Alexi Casilla are all on the disabled list?
  • And that Brendan Harris is having the worst season of his career?
  • Can you play infield?  Call the Twins!

Studs

Joe Mauer:  I thought that was a home run...I'm not really sure how it stayed in the park.  Still, a pair of hits (including a double), a walk and a couple of RBI.
Justin Morneau:  He's healthy, eh.
Alex Burnett:  He continues to impress me, even if he's inconsistent at times.
Delmon Young:  Two more hits!
Jason Kubel:  His homer put the Twins on the board, even if it was his only hit of the night.
Denard Span:  4 hits!

Duds

Nick Punto:  Lots of sloppiness last night.
Matt Tolbert:  Another hit and another RBI, but sloppy defense...and even when he hits the ball hard, someone catches it.  Bad luck.
Scott Baker:  Not that he had any help.
Jesse Crain:  How much longer can this last?
Michael Cuddyer:  Hitless in five trips.