KANSAS CITY, MO. – The Twins hadn’t scored a first-inning run all season, and hadn’t scored before the opposition, either. So stringing together four hits off Ervin Santana and taking a 1-0 lead was a minor breakthrough.
But they felt like they missed a chance at more.
With two outs, Ryan Doumit rounded second base on Trevor Plouffe’s sharp single to left, heading to third on the assumption that Justin Morneau, who had been on second, would score ahead of him.
Third-base coach Joe Vavra decided not to risk sending Morneau, however, and Doumit was caught between bases. The Royals quickly tagged him out to end the inning.
“I just didn’t pick up the third base coach. I didn’t even take [holding Morneau] into consideration; I was going three all the way,” Doumit acknowledged after the game. “It was my fault. There’s no excuse for it.”
Actually, his assumption would normally be safe, but circumstances made this instance an exception. The ball got to left fielder Alex Gordon in a hurry — “He had the ball before Mornie was at third,” manager Ron Gardenhire said — and the Twins don’t want to risk a play at the plate with a player who has a history of concussions. “We don’t want to see him in any kind of collision,” Gardenhire said.
Hicks hitless again
Aaron Hicks’ game-winning hit Sunday didn’t change his fortunes a day later. The rookie center fielder went 0-for-4, striking out twice and lifting easy fly balls the other two at-bats, dropping his batting average to .067.
The Twins were happy that Hicks came through in a big situation the day before, but “we’re trying not to play it up too much,” Gardenhire said, because the battle is ongoing for the rookie. “I don’t want to make too big a deal out of it — he got a hit.”
Gardenhire would like to give Hicks a day off to see if that helps relieve the pressure, but that requires the bone bruise on Darin Mastroianni’s shin to heal, something the manager said is close. Until then, “as long as [Hicks] feels he’s getting after it and getting some decent swings in there, that’s what it’s all about. When he starts feeling the effects of the ball not falling in, then you worry. … I’m sure it’s frustrating, but you’ve just got to keep playing.”
Hicks’ difficulties are having an effect on the batter behind him, too. Joe Mauer batted with a runner in scoring position for only the second time all season Monday, grounding out in the fifth inning with Chris Parmelee on second. Mauer, who averages 89 RBI per 162 games over his career, has yet to drive in a run in 2013.
• Cole De Vries’ forearm has no structural damage, an MRI revealed, and the tightness he feels when throwing his breaking pitches should go away with rest, the Twins announced after Monday’s game. The righthander went on the disabled list Sunday, but since he has not pitched since March 29, he is eligible to return as soon as Sunday.
• Twins shortstop Pedro Florimon was briefly hurt in the eighth inning when he used his foot to block second base as Jarrod Dyson slid in on a stolen-base attempt. Dyson beat the throw from Mauer, but Florimon’s block prevented him from tagging the base before Florimon could tag him, and umpire Brian O’Nora called him out, the first caught-stealing of the season for Twins’ catchers.
• Scott Diamond will throw a bullpen session in Fort Myers on Wednesday, Gardenhire said, his final tuneup before being activated. Should all go smoothly, the lefthander will start Friday’s game against the Mets at Target Field.