Bruce Chen kept Minnesota off balance all night, with five strikeouts and multiple weak popouts to keep the Twins off the board and the bullpen preserved a 1-0 lead to even the series.
Chen was great, throwing 62 of his 88 pitches for strikes and hitting his spots while walking none. The Twins didn’t hit the ball hard all night and he passed the game off to Greg Holland.
Facing three right-handed hitters, he struck out Brian Dozier and Drew Butera, then induced a grounder from Jamey Carroll. Alcides Escobar rushed the throw and Eric Hosmer couldn’t scoop it, but Holland struck Denard Span out looking on a slider to end the inning. Jonathan Broxton worked another stressful inning to get the save, stranding Josh Willingham and Justin Morneau on base in the process.
After a miserable loss last night, this was a solid way to bounce back. The overworked Royals bullpen needed a rest, and seven solid innings from Chen helps that. He could have work an eighth, but Ned Yost said after the game that he didn’t want to do that with just a one run lead and righties coming up.
Francisco Liriano‘s slider could have been registered as a weapon in the middle innings. During the fourth inning, Liriano struck out four batters, with Jeff Francoeur reaching on a slider in the dirt. All four strikeouts were swinging, including two bad at bats by Mike Moustakas and Hosmer.
The lone run of the game came after Eric Hosmer reached on a fielder’s choice, stole second, and scored on a Brayan Pena single that found a hole on the left side. The Royals could have added an insurance run in the eighth when Alex Gordon doubled with one out, but he was caught between second and third on a comebacker by Johnny Giavotella. Billy Butler singled on a looping line drive to center that surely could have scored Gordon with two outs (assuming Giavotella would have been thrown out at first rather than Gordon being caught trying to advance). It didn’t factor into the game, but it could have been a costly mistake. Gordon was picked off of first earlier in the game when he went on the first move by Liriano.