MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—From pitches in the wrong places to foolish baserunning and bobbled groundballs, the list of blunders by both teams was long.
But Joakim Soria returned to the mound and made his manager’s last move work out well.
Soria returned to his All-Star closing form for the Kansas City Royals, getting the last five outs of a 10-7 victory in 11 innings over the Minnesota Twins on a sloppy Saturday night for each side that lasted 4 hours and 20 minutes.
“Thankfully we found a way to win,” said manager Trey Hillman, who sent Soria (1-0) in for the first time in 10 games after the right-hander rested a sore shoulder.
He threw 19 pitches, 13 for strikes.
“I feel really good,” Soria said. “I’m ready for the season.”
With plenty of time left.
“I haven’t brought a closer in for more than one inning very often,” Hillman said. “He looked good out there.”
Soria sandwiched the last two outs of the 10th around a wild pitch that let a runner advance to third and gave up a one-out single to Joe Mauer in the 11th, but beyond that he was flawless.
Minnesota’s bullpen was far from it.
Craig Breslow (0-1) walked the bases loaded in the 11th, getting only one out and seven of 21 pitches in the strike zone. Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, forced to throw fastballs because Mauer hadn’t caught him yet, walked John Buck to force in the go-ahead run. Another one scored when Alberto Callaspo hit a fielder’s choice grounder, and Kansas City stretched the lead to three on a sinking single by David DeJesus that left fielder Denard Span couldn’t quite catch.
“I’m not going to make excuses. I just didn’t have it,” Breslow said.
The lack of control chafed manager Ron Gardenhire.
“You’ve got to throw the ball over,” he said. “They’re trying to bunt, and we’re not even throwing the ball over. They’re trying to give you an out, and you don’t throw the ball over.”
It was a fitting end to a back-and-forth, mistake-filled night.
Mauer had four more hits for Minnesota and has been on base seven times since returning from the disabled list.
There were so many flubs in the field, on the mound and around the bases by each team that by the extra innings all the haphazardness on both sides seemed to have already blended into the background.
Before all the ball fours by the bullpen, the Twins were lamenting a two-out grounder hit by Miguel Olivo in the eighth that second baseman Alexi Casilla mishandled for one of the team’s two errors to let the Royals take a 7-6 lead.
“That was a killer,” Gardenhire said. “We have an opportunity to get the boys back in the dugout and win a baseball game, and we blew that too.”
Olivo drove in three runs for Kansas City, including a two-run, two-out triple when starter Glen Perkins left a pitch over the plate. Mauer’s two-out RBI double had given him a 4-3 lead in the previous inning.
Later, Nick Punto made the third out of the sixth going from second to third on a medium-length flyout to left field, leaving Mauer stuck in the on-deck circle and Justin Morneau in the hole. In the 10th, Carlos Gomez bunted foul twice before flying out after Brian Buscher led off the inning with a double.
The Royals nearly cost themselves a win, too.
Starter Brian Bannister labored through 5 1-3 innings and finished with a Sudoku-like line: eight hits, six runs, three earned runs, two walks, and four strikeouts. Bad defense behind him was to blame for a three-run second.
Though the Royals are 0-5 in Sidney Ponson’s starts, manager Trey Hillman wasn’t ready to take the struggling righty out of the rotation yet. Hillman said Ponson will take his next turn, at home on Wednesday against the Mariners. “I see stuff. Hopefully sooner than later it will play out,” the manager said. … The Twins had their seven-game errorless streak end.