Thome homers again and Twins top Royals 10-3
Francisco Liriano(notes) (13-7) raised his second-half record to 7-0 in 10 starts, giving up seven hits and two runs in seven easy innings. J.J. Hardy(notes) had three RBIs for the Twins, who scored six times in the third against Brian Bannister(notes) (7-12) and moved 4 1/2 games ahead of Chicago in the division race.
“You hope the good times last as long as they can,” Thome said.
The White Sox lost to Detroit 9-1, ending their seven-game winning streak. The Twins have won five straight, 10 of their last 12 and 33 of 45.
“They’re not leading this division for nothing,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “They’re a good team that swings the bat. They catch the ball. They throw strikes.”
Thome has likened his new team to a family, smiling his way through his first season playing for his former division rival.
“We’re all genuinely rooting for each other,” he said.
The Royals lead the majors with 53 one-run games, just ahead of the Twins’ 49. After one-run decisions in eight of their last nine games, winning six of those tight ones, the Twins were eager for a breather. That’s exactly what they got, thanks to Young and Hardy at the bottom of the lineup.
“It’s a great feeling to go out there and not have that much pressure on you,” said Liriano, who reached his career high in wins.
After tailing off following his torrid July, Young bounced back in a big way. Thome? He’s been steady all season long.
Just seconds after the White Sox score flashed final, he went deep in the sixth inning on a 3-2 count to make it 10-2. This was Thome’s 22nd homer of the season, estimated by the team’s media relations staff at 452 feet. It tied him with Frank Robinson for eighth place on the career list with 586.
“He keeps hitting it farther and farther and farther,” Young said.
The ball soared over right field and past the American flag, traveling to almost exactly the same place his estimated 480-foot shot landed in Monday’s game against the Royals. Thome has four home runs in his last three games.
After a little prompting from the Target Field crowd, Thome stepped out of the dugout and waved to the fans.
“It’s fun to watch, and it’s a tough act to follow,” Young said.
For the sake of performance, perhaps, but not in terms of production. With Thome on base ahead of him in the second, third and fourth innings following two walks and a hit batsman, Young doubled, singled and doubled. He established career highs in doubles (40) and RBIs (97).
Josh Fields(notes) hit his first homer for the Royals, Alex Gordon(notes) made a hit-stealing diving catch in left field, and Jesse Chavez(notes) pitched two hitless innings of relief. But that was about all the Royals had to be happy about. They fell to a season-high 24 1/2 games out of first place and a season-high 24 games under .500 (57-81).
“That pitch is definitely not where I was trying to go with it,” Hochevar said.
Bannister lasted only 2 2-3 innings. All seven runs against him scored with two outs, with Jason Kubel(notes), Young and Hardy delivering the RBIs in the third. This was his first start for the Royals since Aug. 2, missing time with a rotator cuff injury. He’s struggling with his off-speed pitches.
“You’re just not going to beat a good team at this level throwing fastballs, especially a below-average one,” Bannister said. “I haven’t been able to throw a cutter for months.”
NOTES: Matt Tolbert(notes) hit his third triple in four days for the Twins, playing 3B again for Danny Valencia(notes). Gardenhire wants to be cautious with Valencia’s hamstring, and he might not be back until Friday. “I don’t want this to turn into something where he really goes out there and pops it, and then we’re done for the year,” Gardenhire said. … Royals prospect Clint Robinson finished his season for Double-A Northwest Arkansas with a Triple Crown, just the third winner in Texas League history. The 25-year-old native of Jefferson City, Mo., a 25th-round draft pick in 2007, hit .325 with 29 homers and 98 RBIs.
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