MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—The Minnesota Twins’ second victory of the season came at a hefty price.
Carlos Gomez went 3-for-4 with a double and two stolen bases, but star right fielder Michael Cuddyer was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a dislocated right index finger in Minnesota’s 4-3 victory over Kansas City on Friday night, the Royals’ first loss of the season.
Cuddyer was 2-for-2 in the game, but needed stitches to close the gash on his finger and could be on the bench for a while.
“He’s swinging the bat very well. He’s very important in the outfield and he’s our No. 3 hitter, which is huge,” Morneau said. “Hopefully he’s not out for too long.”
Billy Butler had two hits and an RBI for the Royals (3-1), who lost a little momentum after a surprising sweep of the big-money Tigers in Detroit to start the season.
The perennially rebuilding Royals entered the night as the last unbeaten team in the majors and were three games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 2003 season.
“Well, the undefeated season is over I guess,” first-year manager Trey Hillman said with a shrug. “But we’ll line up again tomorrow.”
The struggling Twins offense was able to get just enough against John Bale (0-1), who was making his first major-league start since Sept. 18, 2003, when he was with Cincinnati. He played in Japan for three seasons before signing with Kansas City last year, when he spent the first 89 games on the disabled list.
Bale, the brother-in-law of Tampa Bay Lightning star Vincent LeCavalier, gave up four runs on 10 hits in 6 1-3 innings.
“Definitely excited about being back in the rotation,” Bale said. “Hope to come back strong next week and give the team a chance to win.”
His counterpart, Baker (1-0), endured his own frustrations this spring when he missed time because of a sore shoulder and the flu at camp.
“It was a tough spring training for me,” Baker said. “I felt like I persevered through it.”
The Royals worked him into deep counts and fouled off plenty of offerings, scoring three runs and running Baker’s pitch count to 40 after two innings. But the right-hander settled down and retired 11 straight hitters, needing just six pitches to get through the third.
“His first start was fantastic,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He had some quick innings as it went along and a couple long ones early, but he got through them. He got deep into the game and the bullpen did the rest.”
After scoring just eight runs while losing three of four to the Angels to open the season, the Twins’ bats came through on Friday night.
Morneau broke an 0-for-13 slump to start the year with an RBI single in the third, making it 3-2. Mike Lamb led off the fourth with a double and scored on a squeeze play by Adam Everett to take the lead for good.
Though they were happy to snap a three-game losing streak, the Twins were more concerned about Cuddyer, a clubhouse pillar who took over Torii Hunter’s locker after the beloved center fielder signed with the Angels.
“Losing a guy that’s in the middle of our lineup and is the heart of our order,” second baseman Matt Tolbert said, “that’s tough.”
Tolbert started for Brendan Harris, who sat out the game because of illness. … Plate umpire CB Bucknor was stunned momentarily in the sixth when Royals 2B Mark Grudzielanek fouled a ball straight back that caught Bucknor in the mask. He stayed in the game. … Grudzielanek had two more hits and is 8-for-16 this season.