Phil Hughes certainly looks like he's back. He pitched into the eighth inning Saturday night, facing the minimum until the Royals broke through in the fourth thanks to a Nori Aoki double and stolen base, scoring on Kurt Suzuki's throw that sailed into left field. But Hughes allowed seven hits, and three of them came in that fourth frame.
That run was the only offense that Kansas City was able to muster all evening. Hughes sent down seven in a row to get to the eighth, where he put two runners on before Casey Fien was able to come in and snuff out any potential rally.
The Twins took a trio of walks in the second but weren't able to close the deal, and in fact couldn't even sniff a hit off of Royals starter Yordano Ventura until a Jordan Schafer one-out single in the fifth. Minnesota finally broke through in the seventh, when - almost to a man - the Twins caught up to Ventura's fastball. Kurt Suzuki, Chris Parmelee, Danny Santana, and Brian Dozier all reached on a Ventura fastball, and considering that the Twins were able to plate three runs in the inning through the first seven batters he saw, 11 of the 13 pitches in that frame (excluding the four-pitch intentional walk to Joe Mauer) were fastballs.
Yes, in spite of the fact that Minnesota batters weren't even averaging two pitches per plate appearance in the seventh, Ventura just wouldn't stop bringing the heat. And it cost him the game. He wouldn't finish the inning.
Kurt Suzuki's third home run of the season, into the left field seats, gave the Twins a 4-1 lead, our final score. Glen Perkins got over a one-out single from Alex Gordon to notch his 31st save of the season.
- Kurt Suzuki's incredible slide in the bottom of the seventh, around the tag of Salvador Perez, tied the game. That decision by Billy Butler - throwing home instead of stepping on first base for the second out of the inning - opened the door to the Twins' big rally. The very next pitch was Brian Dozier's double, putting Minnesota on top for good.
- We've heard a lot about Phil Hughes' cutter this year, and with good reason. He picked up a few strikeouts with it, and only one cutter that was put in play ended up being a hit.
- The Twins are 7-7 this month, and are now 55-66 on the season. If they play .500 ball the rest of the season, they'd finish with a 75-win season. That would be a huge step forward off of the last three seasons of Twins baseball, but asking this team to go .500 from here on out might be asking a lot.
- By beating Kansas City last night, the Twins allowed the Tigers to move within one half game of first place in the AL Central since Detroit topped Seattle. It's going to be a dog fight not just for the AL Central crown, but for that second Wild Card spot.