Hosmer's ninth-inning homer sends KC past Minnesota
Saturday, July 16, 2011
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Eric Hosmer hit a two-run homer in the top of the ninth inning off Matt Capps to lift the Kansas City Royals to a 2-1 victory Friday night over Minnesota, the seventh blown save this season for the Twins’ closer to match the major-league lead.
Capps (2-5) was booed mildly after Melky Cabrera’s leadoff four-pitch walk and loudly after Hosmer’s drive to straightaway center field. Capps couldn’t hold the lead in a save situation for the seventh time in 22 tries, tying Carlos Marmol of the Chicago Cubs for most in the majors.
Tim Collins (4-4) pitched a scoreless eighth for the win, the first by the Royals in their last six games against the Twins, and Joakim Soria escaped a jam in the ninth for his 16th save in 21 tries.
After Cabrera stole second base, Alex Gordon grounded out and Jason Repko raced to catch a sharp flyball by Billy Butler in the right field corner for the second out. But Hosmer — after swinging late and missing a high fastball — connected for his ninth homer this season to spoil seven shutout innings by Twins starter Nick Blackburn.
Soria gave up a leadoff single to Jim Thome, and Matt Tolbert entered as a pinch runner.
Danny Valencia’s drive to the warning track in center raised hope for the home team of a walk-off win, but the ball died in time for Cabrera to catch it for the first out. Delmon Young’s soft single to center sent Tolbert to third, but Tolbert came home on a roller in front of the plate by pinch-hitter Luke Hughes and was easily tagged out. Tsuyoshi Nishioka grounded out to end the game.
Blackburn gave up only four hits and two walks while striking out three after shaving his black beard, his best start in a month. Royals starter Luke Hochevar who looked just as comfortable on the mound and was equally effective, finishing seven innings with only three hits allowed.
Ben Revere had two of the Twins’ hits, including a tumbling triple in the sixth that was perhaps the most exciting play of the game despite not leading to a run. Joe Nathan pitched a perfect eighth inning, but Capps couldn’t come through.
The Twins didn’t get a hit off Hochevar until their rookie leadoff man Revere, one of the fastest players in the majors, barely beat Alcides Escobar’s throw following grounder to the hole at shortstop to start the fourth inning.
Revere then stole second base, moved up on Alexi Casilla’s ground ball and scored easily with two outs on Hochevar’s wild pitch — his first offering to Thome that snapped inside and skidded in the dirt past the slugger’s foot.
With one out in the sixth, Revere really revved up the Target Field crowd with a highlight-reel three-base hit — putting the trip in triple. His line drive to right field bounced past Jeff Francoeur to the bottom of the wall, and he sped so fast around second base that he lost his balance and fell forward halfway to third. The 5-foot-9, 170-pound Revere barely lost momentum as he did a full somersault, got up without his helmet and slid head-first into the base with room to spare. He smiled widely as he raised his hand to call time.
The Twins didn’t take advantage of that one, though. Hochevar retired Casilla and struck out Michael Cuddyer sandwiched around an intentional walk to Joe Mauer. The right-hander struck out four in his first quality start of six innings or more and three runs or less in five turns since June 15.
Blackburn benefited from superb defense, too. Third baseman Danny Valencia made a diving stop of a groundball to his left to throw out Butler and end the first inning with a runner on second. Casilla and Nishioka turned a slick 4-6-3 double play in the fifth following a leadoff walk to Francoeur. Blackburn helped himself, too, with a deft pickoff move to nab Gordon before a double by Butler went for naught in the fourth inning.
Notes: Mauer was intentionally walked twice in front of Cuddyer, the only All-Star and hottest hitter in the lineup. Cuddyer, a career .192 hitter against Hochevar in 26 at-bats, popped out weakly to first base and then struck out. Mauer has a .500 lifetime average in 18 at-bats against Hochevar. ... Twins head athletic trainer Rick McWane said 1B Justin Morneau is “feeling great” in his recovery from neck surgery and will be re-evaluated Monday.
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