A few extras from Kauffman Stadium, now that the fireworks are over:
— Joe Blanton has bounced around the majors for a few years, and even thought he had retired last summer before the Royals gave him another chance. So his reputation isn’t great these days. But Joe Mauer thinks Blanton is underrated. “He’s got the ball darting in and out, and with good late movement,” Mauer said of the Royals’ fifth starter. His first-inning home run “was just more about getting something up that I can handle.” Maybe Mauer has ulterior motives for the compliment, though. After going 2-for-3 against Blanton on Saturday, he’s now 13-for-30 (.433) against the veteran righthander, with two home runs.
— Manager Paul Molitor has said several times that he’d like to return to a four-man bench, but admitted that he’s beginning to get used to having an eight-man bullpen instead. Besides, he said, “the three-man bench really hasn’t been a factor for us. It’s been rare when I’ve had to use more than one guy, in terms of pinch-hitting. So it hasn’t hurt us by having a three-man bench.”
— Big night for the Twins’ bullpen. One night after giving up the tying and winning runs in a 3-2 loss, most of the same pitchers threw again, and this time they held the Royals scoreless over the final five innings. “It’s always good to get them back out,” Molitor said. “[Blaine] Boyer had the good inning last night; tonight he walked a guy but got a big out for us. [Aaron] Thompson got the big double play. And Casey [Fien], it was really good for him to get back out there” after giving up the tying run on a ground ball and bloop hit the night before. “I think he realized things didn’t go his way last night more than he didn’t pitch well,” Molitor said.
— George Toma, the 86-year-old legendary groundskeeper here in Kansas City, was at the game to visit old friends, and watch the Twins. He’s semi-retired, but still takes care of the Hammond Stadium infield in Fort Myers, Fla., during spring training for the Twins. He couldn’t resist, either: When the crew came out to work the infield before the seventh inning, Toma grabbed a rake and smoothed the dirt around first base.
— Attention furry creatures: Don’t mess with Blaine Boyer.
The Twins’ righthander was getting ready to walk with the rest of the relievers to the bullpen before Thursday’s game when Sluggerrr, the Royals’ lion-costumed mascot, approached and, for reasons unknown, began to reach for Boyer’s face.
“I didn’t know what he was doing. It was very strange, like he was trying to pick my nose or something,” said Boyer, who grabbed the mascot’s paw to stop him. “I said to him, ‘I will break you.’ He didn’t say anything, but he backed off. It was so weird. I would have taken that thing off his head.”