Written By Brandon Warne (ColdOmaha.com)
The Minnesota Twins found win No. 12 of the season to be a difficult one, as they raced out to a quick lead, surrendered it and then chipped away to take it back on a day where their starter really only faltered in one inning. Tyler Duffey (2-3) lasted 6.2 innings, and allowed five earned runs — all in the fourth inning — while ultimately being the pitcher of record in a 7-5 win at Target Field on Wednesday afternoon.
“We stayed in it,” Duffey said postgame. “They came out and gave me runs early, and I tried to give it up. We kept battling, and had some hard-hit balls, some homers and some good defense behind me. I didn’t have my best game. I felt good, but left some pitches over the middle. We won, and that’s the biggest thing.”
The Twins avoided a series sweep with the win, and improved to 1-5 against the Royals this season.
The Twins wasted no time taking a lead, as Eduardo Nunez and Brian Dozier opened the game with back-to-back home runs off Royals starter Dillon Gee (1-2). That marked the fifth time in club history the Twins had opened the game that way, and the first since Dozier teamed up with Danny Santana to do the same on June 9, 2014.
It was the second time the Twins had gone back-to-back this season, as Oswaldo Arcia and Byung Ho Park did so against the Angels on April 16.
Another run came across in the third for the Twins as Eduardo Escobar led off the inning by reaching on an error on second baseman Omar Infante, whose miscommunication with right fielder Paulo Orlando allowed the ball to drop in between them in shallow right. Escobar came across to score on a one-out Santana single past a drawn-in infield, and the Twins had an early 3-0 lead.
The fourth inning spiraled out of control quickly for Duffey. Whit Merrifield led off with a single, and that was followed by a Lorenzo Cain walk. Eric Hosmer drove home both with a double over Robbie Grossman’s head in left, and picked up third on a strange play as Duffey came set and flat out dropped the ball, which was ruled a balk. Hosmer trotted home on a Salvador Perez double over Miguel Sano’s head in right, and two batters later Perez scored on a scorching triple off the bat of Omar Infante.
Infante’s laser shot just cleared Eduardo Escobar at short, and ultimately ran the gap to result in the three-bagger. Infante ultimately closed the scoring for the Royals — both in the inning and the game — by racing home on a wild pitch where Duffey seemed to lose his footing on the mound, and couldn’t get home quickly enough to cover the plate.
And thus, the Twins were faced with what had to seem like their 1,000th mid-game deficit of the season. The plugged away at it, picking up a run in the bottom half of the fourth as Santana walked and scored on a Nunez double down the left field line. Nunez picked up third on the throw home, but was stranded as the tying run when Dozier lined out hard to third.
The Twins took the lead for good in the fifth. Joe Mauer led the inning off with a single, and Sano chased Gee with his eighth home run of the season — a no-doubt, 420-footer to left field for his first long ball in over a week.
“I feel really excited about hitting the ball like that, and my team winning today,” Sano said. “I want to help the team 100 percent. That’s what we got today. That was good.”
The Twins added an insurance run in the seventh, as Sano was hit by a Peter Moylan pitch. Grossman followed with a walk, and Park served a Moylan offering over Infante at second and into right-center field to give the Twins a 7-5 lead.
Taylor Rogers pitched a clean eighth inning, fanning Hosmer on three pitches and allowing just one hit overall. He gave way to Kevin Jepsen (S, 4), who got the save but had to pitch around a one-out hustle double from Jarrod Dyson, who had pinch-hit for Drew Butera.
UP NEXT – LHP Pat Dean (0-1, 3.86) vs. RHP Felix Hernandez (4-3, 2.21) – Friday, 9:10 pm
Notes and Quotes
- The Twins are just 8-17 against Kansas City dating back to the beginning of the 2015 season.
- Park entered Wednesday’s game No. 3 in baseball among 239 qualified hitters in slugging percentage on pitches 90 mph or lower via StatCast databases. Park entered the game slugging .656 on such pitches.
- Nunez’ first-inning home run was his fourth of the season and the first leadoff blast of his career. He also had his 12th multi-hit game of the season, and fifth multi-RBI game.
- Eduardo Escobar (1-for-3) has six hits in three games since returning from the disabled list.
- Grossman (2-for-3) has reached in all six games as a member of the Twins.
- The Royals (24-22) fell to 11-15 away from Kauffman Stadium this season.
- Duffey on the tough fourth inning: “It’s a tough lineup. They don’t strike out a lot. They swing hard and they’re looking for fastballs. If you miss with your fastball, they’re going to hit it pretty well. I’ve been fighting myself a little lately, throwing chase breaking balls early and strike ones later in counts. I gave up some hits on that. But it was just one of those things. It was a tough inning, and I had to come back out and keep us in it. We kept battling and the bullpen came in and shut it down.”
- On how Duffey kept his mindset after tough fourth: “(The offense) came out and gave me runs early. That’s all I can ask for. I owed it to them to go out and keep battling. When that kind of inning happens, that’s a test. If you don’t go out and get it done after that, you can quit on your team. I wasn’t going to do that. I was going to keep battling and give it all I had. We ended up winning, and that’s all I can ask for.”
- Sano on if he thought he’d face Gee, or a reliever in the fifth: “I thought they were going to bring in relievers but they didn’t. I kind of made them pay in that respect.”
- Sano on what he’s learned so far in his sophomore season: “I’ve learned a lot and I’m still learning. Today, Joe (Mauer) told me to hit the ball up the middle, and I did that. I listened to them and I hit the ball out. It’s a learning process.”