Minnesota at Kansas City

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Kansas City (7-5) «11020001x571

Bannister sizzles while Liriano fizzles; Royals end brief skid

CBSSports.com wire reports

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Brian Bannister had a plan against the Minnesota Twins and Francisco Liriano, and it worked out perfectly.

As a result, the Kansas City Royals snapped a three-game losing streak on a frigid Sunday afternoon with a 5-1 victory over the Twins and Liriano, who was making his first major league appearance in 17 months.

"I knew Liriano was coming back from an injury, he was rehabbing," said Bannister (3-0), who went nine innings and allowed only three hits. "My goal was to get on and off the field as fast as possible and keep him out there, because I knew he was going to get tired. I've been in that situation before."

Performing almost as briskly as the stiff breeze that dropped the wind chill to 29 degrees at game time, Bannister pitched the second complete game of his career, giving up only one walk and one unearned run. He struck out three.

Liriano (0-1), an All-Star as a rookie sensation in 2006 before undergoing Tommy John surgery, gave up six hits, walked five and struck out four. Just as Bannister predicted, the big left-hander tired. Nevertheless, his 4 2/3 innings made for an encouraging day.

"I asked him how he felt after 17 months of being out of the big leagues, and he said, 'Cold. Very cold,"' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "His velocity was good. His arm was good. And we can build on that."

Liriano threw 90 pitches, 51 for strikes. He admitted to a few butterflies.

"I couldn't establish the fastball. I couldn't throw my fastball," he said. "If I can establish my fastball, I can do better. I was kind of nervous the first couple of innings, but then I got loose."

Bannister, in three starts covering 21 innings, has allowed only two earned runs for an ERA of 0.86.

The only run he allowed was unearned. Jose Guillen dropped Brendan Harris' deep fly to right in the first inning, and two batters later Harris scored from second on Justin Morneau's single.

"I came up with Liriano," Bannister said. "I played with him at several different levels. He's always had a tremendous slider and been a tremendous strikeout pitcher. I know that pitch, the way he throws it, is hard on his elbow. And I knew he was going to be trying to throw more for strikes today.

"He's going to be a good pitcher again. We were just trying to take advantage of the fact we knew he was going to get tired in the third or fourth inning."

Liriano, who was 11-3 with a 1.92 ERA in 16 starts as a rookie, underwent ligament replacement surgery in his left elbow Nov. 6, 2006, and sat out the '07 season. In five starts in the spring, he was 2-2 with a 4.02 ERA.

"Everything's fine. Nothing's bothering me," he said.

Billy Butler, stretching his hitting streak to 12 games, tied it 1-all with an RBI single in the first inning, snapping a 26-inning scoreless streak for the Royals. Miguel Olivo's double made it 2-1 in the second.

Alex Gordon had a solo home run in the seventh off Juan Rincon and doubled in the fourth, scoring on Tony Pena Jr.'s sacrifice fly after stealing third.

After a walk and Joey Gathright's single, Esteban German's RBI single made it 4-1 in the fourth.

"We saw a great pitching performance against us today," Gardenhire said. "Bannister didn't give us much of a chance. He had great stuff and located the ball so well."


  • The Royals are only 7-5 after 12 games but their staff ERA of 2.58 leads the AL.
  • Bannister's other complete game was a 9-2 victory over Oakland last Aug. 17.
  • Butler's streak is the longest current streak in the AL. Nate McLouth of Pittsburgh extended his streak to 12 games Sunday with a hit against Cincinnati.
  • The three hits were a season low for the Twins.
Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Brian Bannister celebrates his three-hit gem over the Twins on Sunday.  (AP)
Brian Bannister celebrates his three-hit gem over the Twins on Sunday. (AP)

Players of the Game
Kansas City

B. Bannister
IP 9.0
H 3
ER 0
BB 1
K 3
Kansas City

A. Gordon
AB 3
R 3
H 2
HR 1

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Minnesota Twins
Carlos Gomez, CF4000001 .269
Brendan Harris, 2B3100000 .333
Jason Kubel, DH4010001 .263
Justin Morneau, 1B4011003 .225
Delmon Young, LF3000012 .244
Mike Lamb, 3B2000110 .176
Mike Redmond, C3000001 .000
Denard Span, RF3000000 .250
Adam Everett, SS2010000 .130
   a- Matt Tolbert, PH-SS1000010 .435
a-struck out for Everett in the 8th
RBI - Justin Morneau (9)
2-OUT RBI - Justin Morneau (2)
Team LOB - 3
DP - Everett-Harris-Morneau
Minnesota Twins
Francisco Liriano (L,0-1) 4.2644540 7.71
Brian Bass 2.1000100 3.27
Juan Rincon 1111001 6.75
Pitches-Strikes - Francisco Liriano 90-51, Brian Bass 16-10, Juan Rincon 8-6
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Francisco Liriano 5-5, Brian Bass 6-0
Batters Faced - Francisco Liriano 25, Brian Bass 7, Juan Rincon 4
Kansas City Royals
Joey Gathright, CF4120001 .239
Esteban German, 2B3011000 .143
Mark Teahen, LF4000013 .286
Billy Butler, 1B1011300 .386
    Ross Gload, PR-1B0000000 .333
Jose Guillen, RF4000024 .122
Alex Gordon, 3B3321101 .333
Miguel Olivo, DH3011111 .167
John Buck, C3100103 .206
Tony Pena, SS3001001 .033
2B - Alex Gordon (4, Liriano), Miguel Olivo (2, Liriano)
HR - Alex Gordon (3, Rincon)
SF - Tony Pena (1)
SH - Esteban German (1)
RBI - Esteban German (1), Billy Butler (4), Alex Gordon (7), Miguel Olivo (3), Tony Pena (3)
2-OUT RBI - Esteban German (1), Billy Butler (4)
SB - Alex Gordon (1, 3rd base off Liriano/Redmond)
Team LOB - 7
DP - Pena-Butler, Pena-German-Butler
E - Jose Guillen (1, Dropped fly)
Kansas City Royals
Brian Bannister (W,3-0) 9310130 0.86
HBP - Harris (by Brian Bannister)
Pitches-Strikes - Brian Bannister 111-72
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Brian Bannister 13-10
Batters Faced - Brian Bannister 31
Game Information
Attendance - 13886
Game Time - 2:10
Temperature - 37
Umpires - Home - Derryl Cousins, First Base - Angel Hernandez, Second Base - Eric Cooper, Third Base - Marty Foster