Slowey shines, Twins stay with Sox with 7-1 win
MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—The Minnesota Twins have stayed in contention all season on the strength of a young, thriving rotation—and their tutelage from pitching coach Rick Anderson.
He’s taught them so well, it seems, they hardly need him now.
The Twins, who are one game behind Chicago in the division, notched consecutive wins for the first time in nearly three weeks. They had three hits and two RBIs from Jason Kubel, three singles by catalyst Alexi Casilla and another strong start by Slowey (12-9).
“We’re able to just kind of go out there and pitch, and enjoy ourselves and enjoy each other’s company,” Slowey said. “Do our best and not look toward three weeks down the line … and whether we’re going to make the playoffs. Us all being this young is actually probably helping us out a little bit.”
Anderson has been impressed by the way Slowey, Glen Perkins, Nick Blackburn, Scott Baker and Francisco Liriano have quickly identified and self-corrected their mistakes. Slowey was throwing too hard at first, but he reported his problem in the dugout before Anderson could get a word out. He figured it out and slowed his fastball back down to around 88 mph in the subsequent innings.
“They all feed off each other so well. That’s the neat thing,” Anderson said. “They talk about what they did right and what they did wrong, their experience and their thoughts. That’s a good thing. I just stay out of the way and let ‘em pitch.”
Four of Minnesota’s five RBIs came with two outs, and the Twins (80-65) surpassed last year’s victory total. The Royals fell to 3-11 this season against Minnesota and have lost 13 of their last 15 road games.
“They’re a solid team. They have smart guys all around that field,” Kansas City’s David DeJesus said. “What do you do? That’s what they’ve been doing to us all year.”
Kyle Davies (6-7) gave up four runs and eight hits over 5 2-3 innings for Kansas City. Delmon Young, Nick Punto and Carlos Gomez also drove in runs for the Twins, who had at least 12 hits for the fourth straight game.
Reliever Leo Nunez let the game get out of hand in the seventh, when Gomez singled, Denard Span walked, and Casilla bunted to the right of the mound. Nunez threw the ball short of first base, and it skipped all the way to the bullpen while two runs scored.
But the damage was done a lot earlier.
“A couple bad pitches, and they hit some balls pretty good up the middle,” Davies said.
Royals manager Trey Hillman reorganized his lineup as a response to what he deemed a lethargic effort in Tuesday’s 7-2 defeat to Minnesota, after he vowed his team would not roll over for the Twins or White Sox—who account for seven of their final 18 matchups.
The results, though, were largely the same on the night Kansas City was officially eliminated from the division race.
After consecutive singles to start the game was followed by a sacrifice fly from DeJesus, Jose Guillen ended the inning with a double-play groundout. The relay throw from Casilla was wide of first base, but Justin Morneau had plenty of time to make the catch and the tag.
Slowey surrendered his share of hard-hit balls, but that’s his style— getting them to go to the right places. He retired 17 of his last 19 batters, surrendering only a walk and a double during that stretch.
Matching Perkins for the team lead in victories, Slowey improved to 5-1 in his last seven starts while allowing only five baserunners. He struck out two and maintained his healthy major league lead in the fewest walks category, with 19.
“He’s a Twins pitcher, a smart pitcher,” DeJesus said. “If he sees a pitch that’s working, he keeps going back to it.”
Gomez stole his 30th base, Minnesota’s first player to reach that mark since Luis Rivas in 2001 and the 14th time a Twin has collected that many in 48 seasons. … Alberto Callaspo hit a line drive into the home dugout in the third inning that nearly decapitated Twins closer Joe Nathan. He stood up, hopped around and sat back down with wide eyes, a weary smile and several deep breaths. “I’m pretty sure it went through me,” Nathan said. … Minnesota RF Michael Cuddyer (broken foot) has been cleared to run as much as he can handle, but he’s not close to full speed yet. … The Royals could activate 3B Alex Gordon (tear in hip flexor muscle) and OF Mitch Maier (broken bones in face) this weekend at Cleveland. Both have been out for three weeks. Hillman said Gordon will play in one of Saturday’s games against the Indians, likely the first half of the doubleheader. … The Twins announced their bid to host the 2014 All-Star game at their new ballpark, which will open in 2010.