Baker - 15-17 with a 4.84 career ERA coming into the back end of a split doubleheader - retired the first 24 batters he faced to make a bid for the first perfect game since the New York Yankees’ David Wells pitched one against Minnesota in 1998, and just the 18th overall in major league history.
Baker, though, walked leadoff hitter John Buck on five pitches. After Buck was forced out on an Esteban German ground ball, Mike Sweeney—who was activated from the disabled list between games—blooped a pinch-hit single to left-center for his first hit since June 16.
“What did I have to be nervous about? I pitched a great game, no matter how it worked out,” said Baker, who was trying to become the first Twins pitcher with a perfect game and first to toss a no-hitter since Eric Milton against Anaheim on Sept. 11, 1999.
Now, Silva (10-13, 4.33 ERA) will try to equal his win total from last season for Minnesota. The right-hander, who was 11-15 a year ago, turned in one of his worst outings of this season when he allowed seven runs over 3 2-3 innings of an 8-3 loss to Cleveland on Monday.
Silva is 7-4 with a 3.38 ERA this season at the Metrodome, but since June 13, he’s 6-1 with a 2.93 ERA in eight starts. That included a win over Kansas City on July 31 in which he gave up two runs and seven hits through eight innings of 5-3 win.
Silva has alternated wins and losses in his last four starts against the Royals, and is 4-2 with a 3.94 ERA in 10 career starts against them.
The Twins’ hopes of reaching the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons, though, are slim. Minnesota is seven games behind the New York Yankees for the AL wild card, and 9 1/2 behind AL Central-leading Cleveland. The Twins and Indians will meet for the final time in the regular season with the start of a three-game series on Monday at the Metrodome.
Kansas City won the opener 9-4 on Friday behind a homer and three RBIs from Ross Gload. The game was a makeup of an Aug. 2 postponement, the day after the freeway bridge collapse near downtown Minneapolis that killed 13.
With three more wins, the Royals (60-74) will finish with fewer than 100 losses for the first time since going 83-79 under Tony Pena in 2003.
Brandon Duckworth (2-3, 2.94) will make just his third start this season and first since April 13 for Kansas City. In his previous two starts, the right-hander went 0-1 with a 1.59 ERA. In 16 relief appearances in 2007, Duckworth is 2-2 with a 3.63 ERA.
Duckworth pitched a perfect inning of relief against the Twins in the Royals’ 4-3 road win on April 25, and is 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA in two career starts versus Minnesota.
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