Three observations from a long, deflating day at the ballpark for the Twins:
— The Royals aren’t going to win all 162, but it’s pretty impressive how strong they have started the season. Up and down their batting order, with the notable exception of Alex Gordon, everyone is hitting. Lorenzo Cain is at .407, and he looked locked in, especially in his sixth-inning at-bat that pretty much ended Trevor May’s day. Salvador Perez is quietly hitting .414 from the eighth spot in the lineup, and he’s already got three homers this year. And that Royals’ bullpen might even be better this year than last — KC has gotten 19 innings so far from its relievers, and they haven’t allowed a run yet. The Twins? In 21.2 innings, they’ve allowed … 17 runs.
— Tim Stauffer hasn’t looked like the same pitcher who posted back-to-back strong seasons in San Diego, but he started well on Monday. That’s why I was surprised that Paul Molitor left him out there so long. Stauffer relieved Trevor May with two runners on in the sixth, retired Alex Rios on a fly ball to center, gave up a line-drive hit to left that scored a run, and ended the inning by getting Omar Infante to ground into a force play. In the seventh, three straight Royals all grounded to short — and I expected Stauffer’s day to be done. Why not bank that decent outing, let Stauffer enjoy some success, and go to Brian Duensing or Casey Fien for the eighth? Remember, the score was 5-3 at the time. Molitor chose to stick with Stauffer, and I’m sure he had his reasons — he mentioned after the game how fresh Stauffer was — but Eric Hosmer led off with a single, and Stauffer walked Kendrys Morales on four pitches. That’s when Molitor pulled him, and it may not have mattered much, because the inning exploded from that point, with the Royals scoring six on just two hits.
— Speaking of Morales, how do you feel about him now, Twins fans? Minnesota signed Morales last June, after he had sat out two months looking for a contract, and he didn’t contribute much in his two months with the Twins — a .234 batting average, one home run, 18 RBIs. But he signed a two-year, $17 million contract last winter with Kansas City, and he’s a different hitter. Morales is batting .414 so far, has five RBIs, and on Monday, he did something he never did in 17 home games with the Twins — hit a home run. It went about 405 feet, and had to leave fans feeling like they never got to see that guy last year.