KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)—Leaning against the rail at the top step of the dugout, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire stared blankly ahead, a look of what-just-happened amazement on his face.
No idea what to do, not wanting to get ejected for something silly, Gardenhire did nothing.
“I didn’t know how to argue that one,” Gardenhire said after Minnesota’s 8-3 win over the Kansas City Royals on Friday night.
The Twins had a big night with the bats, pounding out 11 hits, most at the most opportune moments. Jim Thome(notes) homered and drove in three runs, Michael Cuddyer(notes) had two RBIs and J.J. Hardy(notes) homered as the Twins took advantage of a second straight early exit outing by Gil Meche(notes) (0-2) for their first winning April (12-5) since 2007.
Pavano (3-1) was sharp after a shaky previous start, keeping the ball down better, getting more first-pitch strikes than he did in getting hammered in a six-run third inning by the Royals on Sunday.
But what made an otherwise successful all-around night peculiar was what happened in the sixth inning.
It came with one out, when DeJesus lifted a fly to right that appeared to clear the wall for a homer, even after it bounced off a fan’s hands and trickled to the base of the wall.
DeJesus didn’t care. He didn’t see the umpire give the whirling homer signal and kept running, churning around third after getting the wave home from third base coach Dave Owen.
“Once I touched second, I saw Dave Owen waving me,” DeJesus said after his third career inside-the-park homer. “It was like, ‘all right, I have a chance.”’
DeJesus easily beat the relay throw standing up and ran giddily into the dugout.
Across the diamond, Gardenhire stewed in stunned, what-do-I-do silence.
“I could have gone out and argued that my guys didn’t know it was a home run and could have gone and chased the ball if you hadn’t signaled that, but I thought that was a stupid argument because I thought it was a home run,” he said. “If they reviewed it, they surely would see it was a home run. So I thought this was the best way, give him an inside-the-parker. I didn’t know what was happening, what was going on there.”
Pavano didn’t appear to care—it was likely going to be a homer either way — finishing off a perfect seventh and a good bounce-back game. The right-hander allowed two runs on four hits, surviving a few deeper-than-needed counts after throwing first-pitch strikes to 21 of the 24 hitters he faced.
It made DeJesus’ homer a nonfactor.
“Other than the fact that I was 2-1, 3-2 on a lot of these guys, I made some adjustments from last start to this start,” said Pavano, who didn’t walk a batter despite the deep counts.
Coming off a shaky outing against the Twins on Saturday, Meche labored from the start, running deep into counts and trouble nearly every at-bat.
He allowed two runs in the first inning, on Justin Morneau’s(notes) broken-bat RBI single that ticked off second baseman Alberto Callaspo’s(notes) glove and Cuddyer’s line-hugging RBI double to the corner in left. The Twins got another run on Cuddyer’s fielder’s choice in a walk-filled third inning and Meche was done in the fourth after consecutive walks, giving him five in nine at-bats.
Meche allowed four runs on four hits with five walks in 3 1-3 innings.
“It’s embarrassing to pitch that way when I know what I’m capable of,” Meche said. “I’m getting tired about talking about the same thing over and over. You’ve got to turn the page. You’ve got to figure it out and do your job. I’m not doing my job.”
Thome hit a slicing solo homer to left in the fifth inning off Brad Thompson and added a game-sealing, two-run double in the ninth off Robinson Tejeda(notes)—a big night that got lost in the hubub of a non-disputed homer.
NOTES: A moment of silence was held before the game for Colorado Rockies president Keli McGregor, who was found dead in his Salt Lake City hotel room on Tuesday. … Hardy’s homer snapped an 0-for-14 streak. … Morneau made a sprawling catch at first on Jason Kendall’s(notes) liner in the fifth inning, preventing what was sure to be extra bases. Kendall was hitless in three at-bats, ending his hitting streak at 14 games.