Twins fall to Royals in series finale
Bonser turns in shortest outing of his career; bats mostly silent
MINNEAPOLIS -- Manager Ron Gardenhire has stressed all season that "it all starts with your starter," and that was just the case Sunday in the Twins' 8-1 loss at the Metrodome.
The game featured two starting performances that could not have been more different. Twins starter Boof Bonser lasted just 1 2/3 innings, giving up five earned runs on seven hits. Meanwhile, Royals starter and American League Rookie of the Year candidate Brian Bannister lasted eight innings and surrendered just one run on six hits.
"All you can do is put a pitcher out there, give him the ball and hopefully he has his good stuff," Gardenhire said. "They're going to have their bad days, and that's what it was for Boof, a bad day. He's given us some good performances and he's had some bad ones like all the other pitchers, and today was a bad one."
Bonser looked good in the first inning, giving up just a two-out single to Ross Gload, but he started struggling immediately in the second. The first batter, Alex Gordon, belted the fourth pitch he saw 427 feet into the right-field upper deck. Bonser gave up another three hits and a run before he got the first out of the inning.
"It was one of those where I had command of absolutely nothing," Bonser said. "My fastball was up in the zone, no offspeed [control], just absolutely nothing.
"I guess it was just all adrenaline in the first inning, after that, there was nothing there."
Bannister, on the other hand, seemed to have it all. Before the eighth inning, the Twins only managed four hits. They led off the eighth with back-to-back singles, and then Luis Rodriguez sacrificed in their only run.
The 5-0 deficit after the second inning took all the wind out of the Twins' sails after they had already played three games in 25 hours over Friday and Saturday.
"You get down 5-0, it takes completely away from anything. You can't run, you can't do anything," Gardenhire said. "You have to sit there and try to get hits, and you're facing a very good pitcher in Bannister. He threw strikes and worked ahead in the count all day. He just kind of shut us down. You get behind like that, and it takes the air out of you early."
Gardenhire admitted that Sunday was the most difficult day of the weekend, and that personally, he felt tired.
"I don't think anybody in this clubhouse would say we're not tired. It was tough, but they had to play this many games in that many days. They just played better than us today," Michael Cuddyer said. "It's tough to claw back when guys are tired. At the same time, that was the position we were in, and we just couldn't gain enough momentum and climb back."
Garrett Jones, filling in for Justin Morneau at first base, provided half of the Twins' six hits. The three hits were a career high for Jones, and it was his second career multihit game.
"I felt good at the plate," Jones said. "Not being in there at all, I was trying to see the ball and not do too much. That's all I was focusing on, and I was able to take some good swings at some pitches that he left over the plate. He definitely has some good stuff, he's a great pitcher, but I felt good today."
Julio DePaula and Carmen Cali came in and pitched 5 2/3 innings of one-run relief for Bonser. Pat Neshek came in and after getting through the last two outs of the eighth, gave up two earned runs on a John Buck home run in the ninth.
Gardenhire said that Bonser would make his next start, scheduled for next Monday in Kansas City. But just in case, the Twins called up pitchers Kevin Slowey and Nick Blackburn after the game.
Slowey is scheduled to start Tuesday against the Indians, and Blackburn will be used out of the bullpen, for now.
"We're just going to play it by ear as we go along and see how everything breaks down. We're going to bring [Blackburn] up and use him out of the bullpen. If it doesn't look good for somebody else, [starting is] a possibility.
"I'd definitely like to see him throw the ball. I'll try to get him in a ballgame for sure and see him throwing, if it has to be in a start then that'd be fine."
Leslie Parker is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.