KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Torii Hunter pointed. Trevor Plouffe put his hands on his helmet. Eduardo Nunez slammed his glove against the dugout wall.
The Twins spent all weekend relearning a lesson that all of baseball already knows: For such a spacious ballpark, there sure isn’t much room to get a hit in Kauffman Stadium.
“Their defense, man, it’s something,” Plouffe said after being robbed by not one, but two diving catches by left fielder Alex Gordon. “I thought there were a bunch of those today. Not just Alex. I mean, we hit some balls hard, and didn’t get rewarded.”
That’s because Alcides Escobar, the shortstop Hunter has already called “an alien” for the way he ranges all over, went deep into the hole toward third to grab a Hunter smash in the sixth inning and made a leaping throw to second base to force Joe Mauer and snuff out a scoring threat. And because Danny Duffy pounced on a good drag bunt by Nunez and made a whirling throw to just get him at first. And because third baseman Mike Moustakas, whose body was twisted toward left field as he knocked down a Nunez screamer, picked it up and threw across the diamond to retire him.
“The way [Escobar] picks it, he’s unbelievable,” Hunter said. “The defense they have over there is like Michael Jordan. It’s not fun. I felt like there were 11 guys out there. [Lorenzo] Cain and Escobar and Gordon, it’s like [they have] two extra guys.”
The most painful, Plouffe said, was Gordon’s diving catch of his long drive to left-center leading off the ninth inning. As he hit the ball, Plouffe said, he was “100 percent, absolutely certain” it was a double. “I didn’t think he was anywhere close to it, and he made a great play,” Plouffe said. “I mean, that’s the game right there. He doesn’t catch that, we win. I’m on second, I probably get pinch run for, Miggy [Sano] gets that base hit and we bring [Glen] Perkins in” for the save.
“We feel unsatisfied. We had the game in hand. Hard line drives, they should be base hits, but their defense, it’s just so good,” Nunez said. That’s why he acted out in the dugout, he said — sheer frustration at having two hits, and probably the game, taken away. “You saw that?” he said with a smile. “Well, my glove, it’ll be OK.”
Eight was good enough
Ervin Santana had thrown only 93 pitches in eight innings, and most of the Twins’ late-inning relievers had pitched two days in a row. But manager Paul Molitor decided that he didn’t want to push Santana too far in his first big-league game of the season.
“He might have had a little bit left,” Molitor said of Santana. “But to try to extend him here — innings are a factor. … To try to throw him back out for another inning, I just thought [eight] was good enough.”
Molitor said he and pitching coach Neil Allen discussed the decision during the eighth inning, “and we just said, ‘First outing, it’s probably not too prudent to push it too hard.’ ”
• A magnetic resonance imaging test taken of Ryan Pressly’s shoulder confirmed the injury is a strain of the lat muscle behind his shoulder, Molitor said. The Twins will determine Monday whether the reliever will need to go on the disabled list. The Twins could promote Michael Tonkin, Alex Meyer or A.J. Achter to take Pressly’s place.
• Surgery on Shane Robinson’s 8-month-old daughter Harper was successful, Molitor said, but he’s not certain when Robinson will return to the club.