The object of the game is to score “runs,” which seems like a pretty big clue: Standing in one place is a bad idea.
The Royals made that mistake twice Sunday, once while they were in the field and once while they were at bat, and the Twins were the beneficiaries both times, leading to a 4-3 victory over Kansas City and a sweep of their three-game series at Target Field. The Twins are now back at .500 at 6-6 after outscoring the Royals 21-5 over the weekend.
Kansas City reliever Wade Davis committed the game’s critical error, but it wasn’t just throwing the ball to the backstop after fielding Chris Herrmann’s bases-loaded one-hopper. That mistake enabled the tying run to score, but Davis made matters worse by doing … nothing. He stood halfway up the third base line, silently (or not so silently) cursing himself for blowing such an easy play, instead of turning an inning-ending double play.
One problem: Brian Dozier was rounding third and noticed Davis hadn’t moved.
“When you look up and see nobody’s covering home, you’ve got to be aggressive. Take a shot,” Dozier said. “Once I made the turn and [Davis] wasn’t sprinting back, I knew he wasn’t getting to home plate any time soon.”
Not as soon as Dozier, anyway, and his slide beat Davis’ tag. Would he have held at third if Davis had covered the plate immediately? “Most definitely,” Dozier said.
Davis wasn’t the only Royals player caught standing still, though. The game, played before an announced 20,878, ended on a bizarre ninth-inning play, a foul ball that bounced harmlessly to the ground while Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki and third baseman Trevor Plouffe scrambled to reach it. But umpire Laz Diaz immediately called Mike Moustakas out, because after hitting the sky-high pop-up, he simply stood in the batter’s box and watched it. Suzuki tripped over his leg while trying to follow the ball in the air, a collision that was ruled interference.
“I didn’t know what the rule was” since Moustakas was still in the box, Suzuki said. “I figured I just missed it, that’s what they’d say. But [Diaz] pointed and said, ‘He’s out,’ and I just said, ‘Oh, OK.’ ”
That will teach those Royals to run. Funny thing, though, the Twins’ best weapon lately hasn’t been running but walking.
They drew six walks Sunday, giving them 59 on the season, most in the American League. All the extra baserunners are a big part of the reason the Twins are also second in the league in runs scored, but rarely have they mattered more than Sunday.
In the seventh inning, Jason Kubel walked just ahead of Josmil Pinto’s third home run of the season, a 390-footer that landed 10 rows deep in the left field bleachers and broke up a scoreless pitchers’ duel. And after the Twins fumbled away that lead during Kansas City’s small-ball three-run rally in the eighth — two of the runs were scored on bunts, one a sacrifice attempt thrown away by third baseman Trevor Plouffe, the other a squeeze play by Nori Aoki, before Eric Hosmer delivered a go-ahead RBI double — they responded by taking pitches again. In fact, the winning rally was accomplished without a hit.
Reliever Aaron Crow walked Pedro Florimon and Dozier — hitting a combined .147 on the season — to open the inning, then gave way to Davis, who struck out Joe Mauer but then issued yet another walk to Plouffe, loading the bases and setting up Herrmann’s chopper and Dozier’s aggressive romp home.
“He’s gambling there. You’ve got to,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of the manner in which the winning run scored. “A good hustle play for Doz, a really good play.”
One that rescued Kevin Correia, who pitched seven shutout innings and didn’t deserve the loss that was coming his way if not for Davis’ mental mistake.
“You feel terrible” for him, Gardenhire said after late-inning runs cost Correia a victory for the second time this season. “He did everything he was supposed to do. He threw the ball great.”
And he helped get the Twins moving again this weekend. Or at least, not standing still.