Early hole sinks Garza, Twins in opener
Rough first inning, throwing error in the sixth unravel starter
MINNEAPOLIS -- A season-low 15,736 fans turned out to watch the Twins make up their postponed Aug. 2 game against the Royals on Friday afternoon at the Metrodome.
With the way the Twins played, they may be OK with not having a sellout crowd to witness their 9-4 loss.
To start things off, Matt Garza put the Twins in an early hole, when he gave up three runs in the first inning.
But the Twins chipped away at Royals starter Kyle Davies to keep the game close. Torii Hunter put the Twins on the board with his 27th home run of the year, a solo shot, in the first. Hunter's home run put him in a tie with Justin Morneau for the team lead in RBIs with 95.
Minnesota scored two in the fourth, on RBI singles from Jason Kubel and Jason Tyner. Tyner's hit extended his hitting streak to 13 games, a career high.
"We got behind early," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We got back in the ballgame. Got some bunts down, still didn't get them in enough, but we got some bunts down and did some things to get men out there."
Garza seemed to get his pitching back on track after the shaky first inning, but defensive miscues in the sixth put the game out of reach for good.
Emil Brown reached first on what was originally ruled an error on third baseman Brian Buscher. The call was changed to a base hit, but Buscher admitted if he hadn't been so slow, it would have been an out. The next batter, Tony Pena bunted the ball up the middle and just out of Garza's reach for a single.
Those two plays could have been erased, but Garza's error on the next play opened the floodgates to what ended up a five-run inning.
Garza cleanly fielded Joey Gathright's bunt down the third-base line, but then threw it away into the Twins bullpen allowing two runs to score and Gathright to slide safely into third.
"They came out and said, 'We need a bunt down the third base line, can you get there?' I said, 'Yea, I can get there.' I got there. I just threw it away," Garza said. "That one's going to haunt me for awhile. It's one of those plays you do over and over so many times in this game and in the Minor Leagues, and you get your big chance and you throw it away. That one hurt the worst."
Hunter also made an error in the inning, just his second of the season, and Buscher made an error in the seventh, to give the Twins three errors in the game -- tying their season high.
"You've got a five-run inning there and that just shows you that you can't give people extra outs in this ballgame. If they're giving you the outs, you've got to get the outs," Gardenhire said. "A routine ground ball and two bunt plays are supposed to be outs and we didn't get any of them, and now you've got a five-run inning and we're out of the ballgame. That just tells you a little bit about the game of baseball. You can't not field your position and you have to understand the quickness of a Major League baseball game."
It was Garza's 10th career start at the Metrodome and he remained winless, with an 0-9 record and a 6.40 ERA.
The Twins got an almost immediate chance to rebound from the loss, with the nightcap of the doubleheader beginning almost exactly three hours after the final out of Game 1.
"You've got to come out and forget about it," Gardnehire said. "That's the game of baseball. You can't do anything about that one now. We pretty much screwed that one up, so now we have to come back, and try to win the second one, and split the doubleheader and turn around, and play another one [Saturday] at 11 in the morning."
Leslie Parker is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.