In years past, if you’d tell me that the Royals had lost six in a row and had a three game series against the Twins, I’d have gotten a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. Labored breathing, panic. The last team I’d normally want the Royals to face in that situation would be the Twins.
Turns out, it was just what the Royals needed.
In their first sweep of Minnesota since 1999, the Royals banged out 15 hits, including one from everyone in the lineup, doing most of their damage against Carl Pavano and adding the final touches against former Royal Dusty Hughes.
Mike Aviles led the way going 3-5 with a three-run homer in the eighth to finish it off.
The Royals got great timely hitting, going 7-15 with runners in scoring position and accumulated 27 total bases.
After his performance in the first two games of the series, Jarrod Dyson earned a start in center and led off. In his first at bat he hit a slicing line drive to left field and tried for a double. His spike caught in the dirt and he tried an awkward slide and left the game. Losing a player is bad, but considering that, even with his speed, he shouldn’t have tried for second in the first place, it’s even worse. He’s being deemed day-to-day.
That left the door open for Mitch Maier. All he did with his bonus playing time was score three times in four plate appearances, including hustling for a double in the fifth and driving a triple into the right field gap to drive in Matt Treanor in the sixth. He also walked and scored on the Aviles homer.
The Twins only managed five hits off Luke Hochevar and were held hitless against the bullpen. They got runners on but never cashed in their opportunities. Even on defense, they made miscues. Alexi Casilla misplayed a sharp shot by Kila Ka’aihue for the second time this series and allowed him to reach on an infield single, then committed an error on a chopper by Treanor on the next pitch which allowed Billy Butler to score. In the fifth, Aviles was on first and was caught leaving early, but the Twins messed up the rundown and he was able to return to first without being tagged.
It was that kind of series for the Twins, who fall to 9-18 and have the worst record in baseball.
Hochevar was sharp for the first five innings, but lost his command in the last 1.1 of his day. In the sixth inning, he gave up a homer to Justin Morneau and went to a 3-1 or 3-2 count to the next three batters. After a ground out (on a 3-1 pitch) and triple by Casilla (on a 3-2 pitch), he was pulled for Tim Collins.
We can add “fatigue” to Hochevar’s focus problems as he gets deeper into games.
Other plays that may be overlooked by the performances of Maier and Aviles are a solid double by Butler in the fifth inning and a nice swing by Alex Gordon that got him a double in the right field corner on an outside pitch. He flipped his hands around on it and placed it perfectly. Matt Treanor, after threatening to fall under a .100 batting average, went 2-3 and scored twice. He’s 6 for his last 12.
Aaron Crow worked 0.2 scoreless innings to continue his career-beginning scoreless streak which has no reached 14.1 innings. He and Alex Gordon were named the Royals pitcher and player of the month for April during the game.