Slowey picks up victory for Twins against Royals
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)—Minnesota’s Kevin Slowey didn’t walk a batter, as usual. The Twins, meanwhile, made the base on balls a major part of their attack.
Slowey limited Kansas City to one run and seven hits in six innings, Joe Mauer drove in two runs and the Twins took advantage of a season-high eight walks to beat the Royals 4-1 on Friday night.
Slowey (8-8), who struck out two in 5 2-3 innings, did not issue a walk for the 16th time in 29 career starts. He is averaging 1.3 walks per nine innings this season.
“I don’t think I have the stuff to get away with walking a lot of guys,” Slowey said. “That’s the way its been my whole life. In the minor leagues, that’s what the Twins preach. They say we have some great defenders behind you, make them work, we’re going to make some great plays behind you, make guys earn their way on base. That’s what I tried to do.”
Slowey has not allowed a first-inning run in 18 starts, which broke a club record of 17 set by Camilo Pascual in 1973 and is the longest streak since Mike Sirotka in his first 21 starts with the 1999 Chicago White Sox.
“You don’t really do anything particular in the first inning, maybe you feel just a little stronger physically,” Slowey said. “That’s really not quite as important as the win.”
Joe Nathan worked the ninth for his 31st save in 33 opportunities, but not before the Royals loaded the bases on two hits and a hit batsman. David DeJesus, who leads the majors with a .437 average with runners in scoring position, grounded out to end the game.
The Twins sent nine men to the plate in a three-run third, which included three hits, three walks and Mike Aviles’ throwing error. Mauer and Jason Kubel had run-producing singles, scoring Denard Span and Nick Punto. Mauer scored the final run of the inning on Aviles’ error.
Mauer’s sacrifice fly in the ninth scored Denard Span, who went 2-for-4 with a walk and two runs.
The Twins rank last in the majors with 350 walks.
“Normally we go out there swinging and we’re aggressive, but (Kyle) Davies early on couldn’t locate his pitches and we didn’t chase anything out of the zone,” Span said. “When Slowey pitches, he is going to challenge the hitters and keep the ball around the plate. He was pretty effective tonight.”
The Twins top the majors with a .315 average with runners in scoring position, but went 2-for-10 with men in scoring position and stranded 10 runners.
“We missed a few opportunities to put the game away or at least add on and we didn’t do that,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We left the bases loaded a couple of times. There was one inning really where we got it done. They stayed around long enough to make it real entertaining at the end. Slowey pitched good enough and battled and the bullpen did a super job.”
DeJesus, who returned to the lineup after missing the previous five games with tightness in his back, singled home Aviles in the sixth for the only Kansas City run.
“We couldn’t get the big hit,” Royals manager Trey Hillman said. “We left too many men on base. Davies has a fairly quick 15-pitch first inning, three up, three down, and then just couldn’t locate.”
In the seventh, the Royals threatened with two outs when Esteban German reached on Adam Everett’s fielding error, and Aviles, who had four hits to match his career high, singled. Aviles moved to second on a passed ball, but left-hander Dennys Reyes, the fourth of six Twins pitcher, struck out Mark Teahen to strand the runners.
Royals right-hander Kyle Davies (5-3), who had won his previous two starts, lasted just 2 1-3 innings, allowing three runs on five walks and three singles. After a 1-2-3 first inning, eight of the next 12 Twins reached base before he was replaced by Joel Peralta with one out in the third.
“I threw strikes in the first inning and they were pretty much where I wanted them,” Davies said. “The second inning I couldn’t locate the ball. I’m probably thinking a little bit too much. A starting pitcher should block out all the negative thoughts and concentrate on making you’re pitches. I got into a rut and couldn’t find the strike zone.”
Davies walked the bases full in the second, but struck out Carlos Gomez to end the inning. In the third, the Twins sent nine men to the plate and chased Davies.
Royals LHP Ron Mahay is bothered with plantar fasciitis in his left foot. “It’s been bothering him for a while,” Hillman said. “He just hasn’t said anything.” … The Twins have won won 16 of their past 20 games against the AL Central.