The reigning Cy Young Award winner was stumped.

After Wednesday's 4-3 loss to the Twins, Zack Greinke tried to explain a baffling trend. He is 0-4 with an 8.18 ERA against the Twins this year, and 8-8 with a 3.36 ERA against the rest of the majors.

"I don't really understand their team real well," Greinke said. "They change throughout the year. They're different hitters than the first time I faced them. And the first time through the order, they're different than the third time through the order. It's like they make adjustments faster than I can make adjustments."

It was an interesting comment, and a true compliment to the Twins.

Wednesday's lineup actually wasn't much different than the one the Twins used to defeat Greinke at Target Field on April 16. Justin Morneau and Brendan Harris played in that first matchup, instead of Jose Morales and Matt Tolbert. Otherwise, it was the same group.

With a few lineup tweaks, the Twins defeated Greinke again June 8, when Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel and Denard Span had the big hits. But if you recall July 26, you begin to see what Greinke meant. That day, the Twins blitzed the righthander for six first-inning runs in what became a 19-1 drubbing.

Jason Repko (subbing for Span) hit a leadoff double. Alexi Casilla (subbing for Orlando Hudson) followed with an RBI triple. Danny Valencia hit a grand slam and the rout was on.

Repko, Casilla and Valencia watched from the bench Wednesday, as Greinke held the Twins hitless for the first 4 2/3 innings.

But then Morales, in his first game against Greinke this year, drew a walk, before J.J. Hardy and Tolbert hit back-to-back singles and Span hit his two-run triple.

This brings us to the second part of Greinke's quote: "The first time through the order, they're different than the third time through the order. It's like they make adjustments faster than I can make adjustments."

Before Morales drew his walk, Greinke was making it look easy, keeping his infielders busy, particularly second baseman Mike Aviles. I chuckled when I looked back at my scorecard: Span 4-3, Morales 4-3, Hardy 4-3, Tolbert E-3, Span FC 4-6. That's five routine grounders.

Morales broke Grienke's rhythm. It was a four-pitch walk, but the first two pitches -- both change-ups -- were pretty close. Morales had grounded Greinke's change-up to second base in the third inning. This time he laid off.

“[The change-ups] were good all day, but those two came out wrong," Greinke told the Kansas City Star. "I gave away the first two pitches and just missed on the next two.”

Later, winning pitcher Brian Duensing said he could hear the Twins hitters on the bench, trading notes, brainstorming an evolving gameplan against Greinke.

Hardy got ahead in the count 2-1 and grounded a curve ball to left field for a single. Then Tolbert (fastball) and Span (curve ball) jumped on Greinke's first pitch. Tolbert's RBI single -- a hard grounder to right field -- tied the score 1-1. Span's hard grounder down the right-field line turned into a two-run triple, electrifying the crowd. Later, Hardy worked the count to 2-1 again before smashing another curve ball into the Royals bullpen for his first Target Field home run.

All Greinke could do was shake his head.

“Every time they get on base, they string a rally together instead of me being able to stop them like I need to do," he said. "They come up with big hits.”

Duensing did his part, but that's how you slay a dragon. (Nice catch, horses2004!)

Note: The Twins next challenge is Fausto Carmona and his outstanding sinker. He held Seattle to one run over eight innings in a complete-game loss last Friday. La Velle has our coverage from Cleveland.

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