MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Alberto Callaspo(notes) has watched the Royals bullpen struggle to hold a lead throughout the first few weeks of the season. Thanks to his two big swings, Kansas City finally built an advantage too big to squander.
Scott Podsednik(notes) added three hits and two RBIs for the Royals, who had 16 hits to improve their AL-leading team batting average to .309 and help a bullpen that entered the day with a majors-worst 8.10 ERA.
“The run production’s been nice and it’s also been needed because of the inconsistencies out of our bullpen,” manager Trey Hillman said.
Josh Rupe(notes) struck out Jim Thome(notes) with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh to preserve a two-run lead, and reliever Jesse Crain(notes) served up Callaspo’s second three-run homer of the game in the ninth to put the game out of reach.
Callaspo struggled earlier in the season hitting in the No. 3 spot, so Hillman moved him down to sixth a few games ago, and it seems to have paid off.
He said through an interpreter that he feels more comfortable lower in the order and “is starting to find his swing and get in a groove.”
Pavano (2-1) gave up seven runs on 11 hits in 3 1-3 innings.
“I was all over the place,” Pavano said. “Falling behind, probably a little bit of execution of pitches, and they were slapping the ball over the field.”
Podsednik, Billy Butler(notes) and Jose Guillen(notes) combined for nine hits and four RBIs. All three had RBI singles in the third and Callaspo capped the inning with a three-run homer to right that gave Kansas City a 6-2 lead.
“He’s got a nice swing, a short swing, and today we didn’t make any pitches on him and he killed us, put it in the seats a couple times,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “That’s what happens when you get behind a guy and don’t make pitches on him.”
“Coming off the bench you want to be ready to go, you want to be ready to swing,” Thome said. “I had some opportunities there, fouled a couple balls off, and pinch hitting you can’t do that, you’ve got to put the ball in play.”
Minnesota had the tying run at the plate in the eighth, but Joakim Soria(notes) got Justin Morneau(notes) to strike out for the third time in the game and picked up his third save in four chances, an easy one after Callaspo got the first multihomer game of his career to make it 10-5.
As good as the Twins have been offensively early in the season, their league-leading run total could be even higher if they hit better with runners in scoring position.
Hochevar walked Morneau with the bases loaded and nobody out in the first inning, but the Twins managed just one more run after that. Michael Cuddyer(notes) had a sacrifice fly and Hochevar got Kubel to pop out to shortstop before Delmon Young(notes) crushed a ball that Rick Ankiel(notes) caught at the warning track to end the inning.
They squandered another chance in the fourth. Trailing 7-3, Morneau came to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs. But the slugger quickly fell behind 0-2, then chased strike three in the dirt.
“Pretty disappointing as far as all-around play today,” Gardenhire said. “I guess you will have one of those every once in a while, you don’t like to see it, though.”
NOTES: In the sixth inning, Podsednik lost his grip on a swing and his bat flew into the stands, hitting a fan in the head. The fan walked out under his own power, waving to the crowd to say he was OK. … Jason Kendall(notes) extended his hitting streak to 12 games. … Royals 3B Alex Gordon(notes) made his first start of the season and had a single with a run scored. … Gardenhire said RHP Nick Blackburn’s(notes) next start will be pushed back one day to Saturday to give him an extra day of rest for his sore elbow. The rest of the rotation will pitch on their regular rest because the Twins are off on Monday.