The Twins took advantage of a bad team and picked up a relatively unimpressive victory at home against the bottom-feeding Kansas City Royals tonight 3-1. I shouldn't say it was totally unimpressive, Joe Mays did pitch very well, but the Royals don't exactly have a dynamic offense.
All three of the Twins' runs in the game basically came as the result of miscues by the Royals' young defense. While all three were technically "earned", Torii Hunter, who scored the first run of the game in the second inning, moved into scoring position on a wild pick-off throw by the 15 year-old Zach Grienke (honestly, have you ever seen a younger-looking professional athlete?). Next, Jacque Jones hit a single, which Royals' center-fielder David DeJesus threw to the plate in an attempt to get Hunter. Grienke tried to cut off the throw but it hit off his glove, dribbling away and allowing Jones to reach second. Jones would steal third and then score on a sacrifice fly by Lew Ford. The Twins would not score again until the 8th inning, when they loaded the bases with two outs for Glenn Williams, who would hit a weak infield pop-up that somehow dropped in between pitcher Jimmy Gobble and shortstop Angel Berroa, allowing Justin Morneau to score.
Regardless of how the runs were scored, they scored, and the Twins won against a bad team. And hey, if they can continue to do that for a week, then they can string together a much-needed win streak, but the rest of their homestand consists of 2 more games against KC followed by 3 against Tampa Bay.
*Mays, who pitched 8 strong innings and didn't allow a run until DeJesus hit a solo homer in the 8th, lowered back below 4 to 3.94. He didn't seem to be commanding his pitches very well, as he continually fell behind hitters early and worked a lot of 3-ball counts, but he surprisingly didn't have issue any walks.
*Joe Nathan worked an efficient 9th, retiring the side on 18 pitches while striking out 2, although he did issue a 2-out walk. FSN posted a very telling statistic in today's broadcast, stating that Nathan has an excellent 1.40 ERA in save situations and a miserable 9.00 ERA in non-save situations. To me, this just says the guy needs to be getting more regular work. Typically, when a closer pitches in a non-save situation, it's because he hasn't pitched in a while and the manager is just looking to get him some work. If he's not pitching well in those situations, it might be a sign that he has trouble getting acclimated after not pitching for a few days. It also might have to do with his mindset... maybe he just brings it more when he is under pressure.
*Glenn Williams went 2/3 and is now hitting .421, and he has extended his career-opening hitting streak to 12 games. This is getting pretty interesting. He's not slaughtering the ball, but he's getting on... and that's more than Cuddy could say.
*The Twins' infield showed some great defense tonight, with excellent off-balance throws by Juan Castro and Luis Rodriguez. Castro also went 2/3 at the plate, but he might be the one who finds the bench when Nick Punto returns if Rodriguez and Williams continue to hit. Luis Rivas no longer has any place on this team.