Twins' new role against Royals: Punching bag

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 6, 2013 - 12:54 PM

The Royals, who own the season series, teed off on Kevin Correia.

– Come back, Houston Astros. The Twins miss you already.

After an enjoyable weekend spent sweeping the American League’s favorite punching bag, the Twins on Monday returned to an embarrassing reality: That’s how the Royals treat them, too.

Minnesota’s starting pitching was poor, the relief pitching wasn’t much better, the baserunning was bewildering, and the offense was silent. Things got so bad, infielder Jamey Carroll pitched an inning — and was the Twins’ most effective pitcher.

“I got outpitched by a 38-year-old middle infielder,” starter Kevin Correia shrugged, shorting the 39-year-old Carroll by a year.

The result was a 13-0 loss that felt like punishment, perhaps for all the beatings the Twins once routinely inflicted on their Central Division neighbors.

Things are a lot different this year. The Royals, winners of 14 of their last 17 games, splattered Correia with six runs in the second inning, en route to improving to 11-3 against the Twins, who had not lost the season series in a decade. “We were very comfortable against him,” said Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain, who drew a bases-loaded walk to score KC’s first run off Correia. “We saw his pitches well and everyone was locked in.”

No kidding. Mike Moustakas bashed a career-high four hits; Eric Hosmer collected a career-high five RBI, three of them on a 420-foot home run off Ryan Pressly, and Kansas City beat the Twins for the fifth time in a row.

“This is a hot baseball team right here,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “You make mistakes right now, and they kill you.”

The Royals have won six of seven games in Kauffman Stadium, and the teams’ meetings are growing increasingly lopsided. Monday’s blowout was the worst, but it was the third time in a week that the Royals have beaten the Twins by five runs or more. It also is the 11th time in 14 meetings with Kansas City in which the Twins scored three runs or fewer.

Not that they were going to score much against Jeremy Guthrie, who has recorded one-third of his12 victories against the Twins. The veteran righthander gave up only four hits and never allowed a Twin to reach third base.

“Early on, it looked like he was going to dance a little bit and use his breaking ball and changeup,” Gardenhire said. “But when they got the lead, he really went in there. Fastballs, get ahead in the count, make us have to start swinging. He did a nice job.”

Correia hasn’t done that for a while now, at least not like he did in April, when he lasted at least seven innings in every start. Correia’s ERA since June 30 is 11.45.

“I just did not have it. I had a chance there, had Cain up [with the bases loaded], had a chance to get a ground ball and get out of the inning,” Correia said. “And I walked him on four pitches, which I don’t do. I just didn’t have my location tonight.”

When he did throw strikes, the Royals hit them, with Hosmer, Billy Butler and Moustakas all slapping RBI singles during Correia’s second-inning meltdown. Brian Duensing relieved in the third inning, making Correia the fifth starter in the past seven games to fail to last even six innings. Duensing pitched three scoreless innings, but Pressly gave up seven runs while recording only four outs, adding more than an entire run, from 3.08 to 4.17, to his season ERA.

The loss was the most lopsided of the season for the Twins, and their most lopsided shutout since a 15-0 loss to the Dodgers on June 27, 2011.

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