Power outage for Twins in KC
Bonser gives up four earned runs in seven innings
KANSAS CITY -- The nearly two-week power outage continued for the Twins, both literally and figuratively.
Minnesota had managed only one run against the Royals in the first eight innings Tuesday night when the first-base light bank at Kauffman Stadium went dark. Some 36 minutes later the lights came back on, but the Twins' bats remained in their own power outage.
Minnesota dropped a 5-1 decision to the American League Central cellar-dwelling Royals and fell to 6 1/2 games behind division-leading Cleveland.
The Twins had entered the game in a run-scoring funk. The power outage had actually started two weeks earlier, on a road trip through Toronto and Cleveland. It continued last week during a seven-game homestand. The team has scored just 72 runs in the 25 games since the All-Star break, an average slightly under three runs per game. Those 72 runs are the fewest of any Major League team since the break. The Twins have stumbled to a 12-12 record in those games.
Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire summed up the night, which also summed up the two-week-long drought.
"Overall, we're not driving in runs. We're not doing little things, like moving runners over," Gardenhire said. "When you're not scoring runs, you can't afford to make those mistakes."
Gardenhire said he thought his team hit the ball hard numerous times in the game and saw that as a positive sign. But he also noted that his players are not executing the fundamentals, and that is leading to "no runs."
"When you're scoring one run a night, you don't have many chances to win," he said.
The game actually started on a positive note. In the second inning, Justin Morneau broke out of a 1-for-22 slump by doubling into right-center. Torii Hunter, who was hitting only .194 in the past 10 games, followed with a run-scoring double. After a Rondell White infield single, Luis Rodriguez grounded into a double play. Minnesota managed only five scattered hits in the final seven innings.
Hunter, Morneau and Rodriguez each finished the game with two hits each, but the rest of the Twins lineup went 2-for-22, including 1-for-12 in the top three spots in the lineup.
Morneau called it a "tough day" and lamented his team's inability to string hits together. But like his skipper, he was encouraged by the number of hard-hit balls.
"If you hit it hard, eventually they start to fall," Morneau said.
Morneau hit one hard when he fouled a pitch off his leg in the top of the eighth. He retired to the training room when the lights went out at Kauffman.
"We kept him out as a precaution. It was swelling up," Gardenhire said. "If we don't have the delay, we send him back out there."
Morneau echoed his manager: "They didn't know how long the delay was going to be, and we figured it would tighten up, so just get in and ice it."
Morneau said he expects to be ready to play on Wednesday.
Pitching continued to be solid for Minnesota -- "good, but not great" as Gardenhire put it. The team began the night with the third-best ERA in the American League, which has kept the team in numerous games during the past two weeks while the offense has sputtered.
"We're pitching pretty good, but we've got to get picked up by our offense," Gardenhire said.
Boof Bonser started on the mound for Minnesota. He went seven innings and gave up four earned runs on nine hits, giving up two of the runs in the fifth.
"I just had a little bump in the road there. They kept finding the holes, and there's nothing you can do about that," he said.
"He battled pretty good," Gardenhire said.
After Bonser gave up the four runs, the manager sent him out for another two innings to help save the bullpen.
"He kept us in the ballgame and gave us a chance," Gardenhire said.
Bonser's record dropped to 5-8 and his ERA rose to 4.63. He scoffed at the notion that the team's lack of run production put more pressure on the pitching staff.
"I've got to go out and do my job. I don't worry about what the guys do at the plate," Bonser said. "We're definitely capable of putting a bunch of runs on the board in one inning, I don't even worry about that."
Max Utsler is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.