What a difference a weekend can make for how you are feeling about your favorite baseball team. After coming off the road with six consecutive losses, the Kansas City Royals faced the Minnesota Twins who long have been not only a nemesis but also a thorn in the side of Kansas City and the rest of the American League Central Division.
After a 10-3 win on Sunday, the Royals completed a three-game sweep of the Twins and now the fans seem too be back on the positive side of thinking. The sweep was the first of a Minnesota team in Kansas City since July 29-31, 1994. That previous sweep happened to fall during a stretch when the Royals had won 14 straight games, but then the baseball strike took over and the season was over on August 10th.
Luke Hochevar took the mound today for the Royals to try and complete the sweep, and he was pretty solid tossing 6.1 innings, while giving up three runs on five hits. The only drawback in his day seemed to be the four walks versus just one strikeout, as he evened his record at 3-3 overall.
The Royals scored double-digit runs for the second day in a row and third time overall this season, ironically all three have come against the Twins. If you want to pick the one negative, combined with Sean O`Sullivan's seven walks given up yesterday, the Royals walked 16 batters in the past two days, though they won by a combined total of 21-5.
Offensively the Royals got off on the right foot in the second inning via Jeff Francoeur's team leading sixth home run of the season. The home run was a solo shot into the Royals left-field bullpen off Twins starter Carl Pavano, who allowed seven runs (six earned) on 12 hits in 5.1 innings. Pavano was so angered with his performance he was seen taking out his frustration in the Twins dugout after being pulled.
Mike Aviles was the star of the day offensively, going 2-for-5 at the plate with 4 RBI, and a stolen base. Holding a 7-3 lead in the bottom of the 8th, Aviles hit a three-run home run off former Royal Dusty Hughes. It was the fifth home run of the season for Aviles, who now shares the team lead in RBI's at 21 with Francoeur. After getting off to a slow start, Aviles has really seemed to turn it on in the last 10 games, and now has upped his batting average to .250.
Mitch Maier produced three hits on the day, including a double and a triple as he filled in for Jarrod Dyson in center, after Dyson bruised his ankle trying to stretch a single into a double in the bottom of the first inning. It was good to see manager Ned Yost turn to Maier and give him some playing time instead of inserting regular Melky Cabrera back into the line-up. Billy Butler and Matt Treanor also had two hits apiece for the Royals, as Treanor has recently snuck his batting average back up to .204 after going 6-for-12 over his last few games.
With the Royals win they improve to 15-13, while Minnesota fell to 9-18 and now sits 10 games back of division leading Cleveland. Kansas City is 4.5 games out of first at the moment and has an off day tomorrow, before welcoming the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday evening. Jeff Francis (0-3 5.03 ERA) will look to improve upon a bad start last time out and keep the winning streak going against Brad Bergesen (0-3 4.76 ERA) and the 13-13 Orioles.