Kansas City at Minnesota

Scoreboard
Kansas City (75-86) «0000112004122
Minnesota (87-74)011000000280

Twins lose again to Royals, but remain in Central lead

CBSSports.com wire reports
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Twins fell flat again, forcing themselves into another white-knuckle night of keeping tabs on the Chicago White Sox as the AL Central race that nobody has taken charge of crawls to a finish.

Hmmm. Perhaps the Kansas City Royals could petition to represent the division in the playoffs.

Ryan Shealy blooped a two-run single over a drawn-in infield for the lead in the seventh inning, and the surging Royals handed the suddenly sputtering Twins a second straight defeat, 4-2 on Saturday.

"All the things that go for us went against us, the bloops and the choppers and the off-the-gloves," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. "They did to us what we do to a lot of other people."

The Twins remained a half-game ahead of Chicago, which lost 12-6 to Cleveland. They can clinch the division title Sunday with a win and a White Sox loss.

But thanks to a bunch of missed chances by the batters and a letdown by the bullpen, the Twins failed to follow through on another opportunity to open some breathing room. Instead, they became big Indians fans again.

Nobody was very eager to watch that game, though. The TVs were turned off in the clubhouse. Gardenhire had no interest. Denard Span planned to catch some college football. Justin Morneau was noncommittal.

The possibility of a one-game tiebreaker to determine the division champion increased.

"If we end up having to go to Chicago on Tuesday, we end up having to go," said Morneau, who grounded into one of Minnesota's four double plays. "Right now, the first thing we've got to do is win that ballgame tomorrow. Then we'll see what happens."

Down the hall, the Royals were in a much better mood. They've won 13 of their last 15 games, including eight straight on the road. Their 18 victories in September are the most in the season's final month since the 1985 World Series champions, and the current winning streak away from home is their longest since 1975.

"They're not in the pennant race, but they're definitely playing hard like they are," Span said.

Gil Meche (14-11) pitched into the seventh, getting two innings to end on double plays. The Twins left 11 runners on base and grounded into two more against Royals relievers.

In the eighth, Carlos Gomez's drive to left-center with two outs and two on hung in the air a little too long and Mark Teahen caught it to end the inning.

Joakim Soria pitched the ninth, walking Span and Alexi Casilla. But Joe Mauer bounced into -- what else? -- a double play. With a runner at third, Morneau flied out to Teahen to end the game and give Soria his 42nd save.

"It was a good win. We kept scrapping away," Meche said. "It's been a fun September."

In the second season of his $55 million, five-year contract, Meche has thrived in the second half -- going 11-3 with a 3.09 ERA over 134 innings and 21 starts since June 10. He had runners on in each inning except the sixth, but escaped and struck out seven with only two runs allowed -- one of them earned.

The seventh inning was the most egregious waste of opportunity for Minnesota, when Gomez reached on a throwing error by third baseman Alex Gordon and Span followed with a walk.

Casilla, who hit the winning single in the 10th inning of Thursday's 7-6 comeback win over the White Sox, popped up his bunt attempt for the first out after John Bale relieved Meche. Mauer walked to load the bases, but Morneau -- 3-for-20 on the homestand -- hit a bouncer to shortstop on the first pitch -- a fastball -- for a routine double play. The Twins left eight runners on against Meche.

Morneau just shrugged afterward, saying he got the pitch he wanted.

"Hopefully, I'll get that chance again," he said.

Gardenhire defended his slugger and MVP candidate.

"He's battling. No one wants to do it more than that guy," the skipper said. "He's been there all year for us. ... Mornie will be right there for us. We need to pick him up."

It wasn't only the offense's fault.

The bullpen, after throwing 10 1/3 scoreless innings during one-run wins over the White Sox on Wednesday and Thursday, reverted to its unreliable ways. Boof Bonser gave up four singles before an out was recorded in the sixth, though Teahen's tying hit was a fluke -- off the pitcher's glove and slowly rolling past Casilla when the second baseman had vacated his spot to cover the bag.

After leaving the bases loaded by getting the last two outs of the sixth, Matt Guerrier (6-9) gave up consecutive singles to start the seventh and Shealy's bloop over a diving Morneau's head down the first-base line drove in two to make it 4-2 Royals.

The infield was in on that play. At normal depth, it was a routine catch.

This weekend, nothing has been routine for the Twins. The Royals have something to do with that, though.

"Everybody feels pretty good with the way we're finishing, and I think everybody is realizing we're really not that far," Meche said.

Notes

  • Twins starter Kevin Slowey's bruised right wrist was still stiff, casting further doubt on his ability to recover in time to take the mound for the potential one-game tiebreaker against the White Sox on Tuesday.
  • The Royals have shut down David DeJesus, who left Wednesday's game with tightness in his right hip flexor muscle.
  • Twins starter Glen Perkins did well on eight days of rest. September struggles led the team to skip his last turn, but he gave up only one run in the fifth.
 
Copyright 2014 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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Mike Redmond and the Twins are feeling down after following a sweep of Chicago with two losses.  (AP)
Mike Redmond and the Twins are feeling down after following a sweep of Chicago with two losses. (AP)

Players of the Game
Kansas City

R. Shealy
AB 5
R 0
H 2
HR 0
RBI 2
Kansas City

G. Meche
IP 6.0
H 7
ER 1
BB 3
K 7
 

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Kansas City Royals
Mike Aviles, SS-2B3111101 .323
Alberto Callaspo, 2B5110004 .311
    Joey Gathright, CF0000000 .254
Jose Guillen, RF5120010 .266
    Tony Pena, SS0000000 .169
Ryan Shealy, 1B5022021 .306
Mark Teahen, LF5011012 .255
Billy Butler, DH4120011 .276
Alex Gordon, 3B4010014 .261
John Buck, C4020014 .226
Mitch Maier, CF-RF3000014 .284
Totals38412418  
Batting
2B - Jose Guillen (42, Perkins), John Buck (23, Perkins)
SF - Mike Aviles (2)
RBI - Mike Aviles (51), Ryan Shealy 2 (20), Mark Teahen (59)
SB - Alex Gordon 2 (9, 2nd base off Reyes/Mauer, 3rd base off Reyes/Mauer)
Team LOB - 10
Fielding
DP - Aviles-Callaspo-Shealy, Callaspo-Aviles-Shealy, Aviles-Callaspo-Shealy, Aviles-Pena-Shealy
E - Alex Gordon (16, Throwing), Ryan Shealy (1, Dropped line drive)
Kansas City Royals
Gil Meche (W,14-11) 6721370 3.98
John Bale (H,2) 1000100 4.39
Ramon Ramirez (H,21) 1100100 2.64
Joakim Soria (S,42) 1000200 1.60
Pitches-Strikes - Gil Meche 99-63, John Bale 7-2, Ramon Ramirez 22-11, Joakim Soria 22-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Gil Meche 8-3, John Bale 1-1, Ramon Ramirez 1-2, Joakim Soria 1-1
Batters Faced - Gil Meche 28, John Bale 3, Ramon Ramirez 5, Joakim Soria 4
Minnesota Twins
Denard Span, RF3100212 .296
Alexi Casilla, 2B3010212 .284
Joe Mauer, C2001201 .330
Justin Morneau, 1B5010024 .303
Jason Kubel, DH3110012 .275
   a- Matt Tolbert, PH-DH1010000 .283
Delmon Young, LF4000012 .292
Brendan Harris, 3B4011011 .266
Nick Punto, SS3020100 .282
Carlos Gomez, CF4010003 .261
Totals3228277  
a-singled for Kubel in the 8th
Batting
2B - Jason Kubel (22, Meche), Brendan Harris (29, Meche)
SF - Joe Mauer (11)
RBI - Joe Mauer (83), Brendan Harris (49)
SB - Denard Span (18, 2nd base off Meche/Buck), Alexi Casilla (7, 3rd base off Meche/Buck), Carlos Gomez (33, 2nd base off Meche/Buck)
Team LOB - 11
Minnesota Twins
Glen Perkins 5411040 4.41
Boof Bonser0411000 5.93
Craig Breslow 0.1000010 1.91
Matt Guerrier (L,6-9) 0.2222000 5.19
Jesse Crain 1100020 3.59
Dennys Reyes 1100110 2.33
Jose Mijares 1000000 1.13
IBB - Aviles by Dennys Reyes
HBP - Maier (by Glen Perkins)
WP - Jesse Crain (2)
Pitches-Strikes - Glen Perkins 85-59, Boof Bonser 9-5, Craig Breslow 7-4, Matt Guerrier 12-8, Jesse Crain 14-10, Dennys Reyes 21-10, Jose Mijares 13-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Glen Perkins 4-7, Matt Guerrier 1-1, Dennys Reyes 1-1
Batters Faced - Glen Perkins 20, Boof Bonser 4, Craig Breslow 1, Matt Guerrier 4, Jesse Crain 4, Dennys Reyes 5, Jose Mijares 3
Game Information
Attendance - 38072
Game Time - 3:34
Temperature - 69
Umpires - Home - Marty Foster, First Base - Derryl Cousins, Second Base - Eric Cooper, Third Base - Angel Hernandez