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Twins 4, Royals 3: Duensing Rolls as Twins Sweep Royals

Put another one in the books.

Over eight innings last night, Brian Duensing made the Kansas City Royals look like the AAAA team that they are. And on a night where he was matched up against Zack Greinke, that's exactly what the Twins needed him to do.

After a 1-2-3 first inning, a pair of doubles in the second put Kansas City up 1-0, but it wouldn't last. Duensing stranded a pair in the third and then had 1-2-3 innings in both the fourth and fifth, when his offense finally caught their breath and life returned to the Minnesota offense with two outs in the bottom half of the frame.

A Jose Morales walk led off the rally, followed by back-to-back singles from J.J. Hardy and Matt Tolbert. While Tolbert's single tied the game, it was Denard Span's triple that gave the Twins a lead they wouldn't relinquish. It was Denard's only hit of the night, but it was huge.

Hardy, as has been customary recently, did manage to pick up another hit when he blasted his seventh home run of the season in the bottom of the seventh, right into the Royals bullpen. It was just a solo, and Hardy's first dinger at Target Field, but it would end up being the deciding run thanks to a shaky ninth from Matt Capps.

Forget Capps, though: the Twins sweep the Royals. In doing exactly what a contending team needs to do down the stretch, Minnesota has extended their AL Central lead to 5.5 games. Duensing was the star, tossing eight innings of one-run ball on just six hits while striking out seven.

Notes, studs and duds after the jump.

  • Just 53 of Duensing's 105 pitches were fastballs last night.
  • Against right-handed hitters he often went with the slider and changeup.
  • Right-handed hitters liked the changeup, putting it in play 13 times...but didn't manage to get a hit. 0-for-13 against changeups for righties.
  • Duensing threw just one changeup to left-handed hitters all night. He threw more sliders.
  • All six hits that Duensing allowed came off his fastball.
  • Duensing didn't throw a single off-speed pitch middle-in or up-and-in all night.

Duensing: .362 WPA
Span: .161 WPA
Tolbert: .173 WPA
Hardy: .071 WPA

Capps: .039 WPA
Young, Hudson, Kubel, Cuddyer: 0-for-13, 1 BB