On Saturday night, we got our first real glimpse of what Ron Gardenhire meant this winter when he said he wanted his team to get faster. Ben Revere and Alexi Casilla hit one-two, and both players were able to put their speed on full display on the base paths. They were a combined 6-for-10, and even with a middle of the order as anemic as ours has been, if the two table setters can get on base like that then good things will happen.
The star of the game was Casilla, whose second career four-hit game was a catlyst in every Minnesota rally. His second hit, his weakest of the night, was a ground ball with eyes that snuck through the right side of the infield to draw first blood. It scored Matt Tolbert, who led off the inning with the first of his two doubles in the contest.
Those piranhas struck again in the sixth. With Minnesota trailing 2-1, Revere led off the inning with a single before Casilla put down one of the most beautiful drag bunts you'll ever see. He had the ball on a string and pulled it with him up the first base line, simutaneously bunted too hard and yet not hard enough for the defense to make a play. Gardy pu on the hit-and-run, keeping Michael Cuddyer from grounding into his second double play of the game, putting both speesters in scoring position with just one away. Danny Valencia grounded out to knot it up, and Delmon Young bounced one off the plate for an infield single that scored Casilla.
This was the brand of baseball the Twins used to take down the fourth place Royals, and if it hadn't been my team I'd have been as annoyed as hell. Minnesota made their own breaks, absolutely, but on any other day of the season there were things that went our way last night that normally wouldn't have.
Brian Dinkelman made his MLB debut, laying out for a great catch in left field as well as picking up his first hit. Michael Cuddyer topped off the three-run seventh with an RBI single, then added another solo home run in the ninth. It was his seventh of the season and second in as many games.
Nick Blackburn was solid for five innings, working around some trouble in the third when the Royals connected on four consecutive singles. But those four singles scored just one run, and a sac fly for the second out of the inning gave Kansas City their second and final run of the evening.
Today the Twins go for the four-game sweep, which would give them their longest winning streak of the season.
- Blackburn was pulled after the fifth for tightness, which is troublesome considering how this season has gone. Justin Morneau had a sore wrist, and was out yesterday (and likely today). Denard Span was also a late scratch, although he may be available for this afternoon's game.
- The Minnesota bullpen threw four scoreless innings. None of the guys looked truly amazing, but they got the job done. Anthony Slama, Jim Hoey and Jose Mijares each pulled in a full inning, with Phil Dumatrait and Alex Burnett splitting that fourth inning.
- Ben Revere tried to make a diving catch in that third inning but the ball landed inches in front of his outstretched glove.
- Jason Repko nearly threw out Alex Gordon at home on the next play, but Gordon's great slide meant he got around Rene Rivera's swipe tag.
Nick Blackburn, Ben Revere, Alexi Casilla, Michael Cuddyer