Twins cap sweep of Royals
By Doug Tucker, AP Sports Writer
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- OK, so what if they did all their damage against a couple of last-place clubs?
The Minnesota Twins don't care. Hitting 12 home runs while going 6-1 on a seven-game road swing to Baltimore and Kansas City sent them flying back home with a refreshing, renewed sense of confidence.
"You can tell around the clubhouse," said Brian Duensing, who got the victory in a 6-4 win Wednesday that completed a three-game sweep of the Royals.
"The energy level, the way guys are pulling for each other. You can just tell. Things are kind of going our way right now."
Delmon Young and Jason Repko hit home runs and Joe Mauer was 2 for 4, giving last year's AL MVP nine hits in 13 at-bats in the three games.
"This was a great road trip for us," said Mauer, who had a career-best seven RBIs in Monday night's 19-1 debacle. "Our starters did a great job. I think everything is starting to click."
Minnesota outscored the Royals 36-7 in the lopsided series. While winning has built the Twins' confidence, losing 13 of 16 has shot Kansas City's.
"This game is based on confidence," said Brian Bannister (7-10), who lost his fifth straight decision. "If you don't have confidence, you're not going to succeed."
Bannister gave up Young's three-run homer in the first inning. He left after allowing 11 hits and five runs in six innings.
Altogether in the three games, the Twins scored 11 runs in the first innings.
"It's really nice when it happens, the offense comes out swinging right away and putting runs on the board," said Duensing (4-1), who went six innings and allowed two runs.
"It makes it easier on everybody. It takes a little bit of the edge off, takes a little bit of the nerves off, too because you're not thinking you have to go out and throw zeros up every inning," he said.
Jon Rauch pitched the ninth for his 21st save in 25 chances.
Young has hit safely in 13 of his last 15 games and is hitting .439 in July with six homers and 28 RBIs. Since May 21, his 63 RBIs are the most in baseball.
The streak is particularly gratifying to the Twins because Justin Morneau, one of their top run-producers, has been on the disabled list since July 16 with a concussion.
"We're trying to make up for (Morneau) not being here and everybody's been putting up quality at-bats," said Young. "We're pitching good, playing good defense."
Denard Span singled on Bannister's first pitch and Mauer hit his fourth double in three days before Young muscled a 3-1 pitch 436 feet over the fence in left.
"Young is as hot as they come right now and he hit that ball a mile," Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Repko hit his second home run of the year in the second inning, then the Twins made it 5-0 in the fourth on Span's RBI single. Jason Kubel added a sacrifice fly in the ninth.
The Royals caught a break in the eighth when Billy Butler was safe at second after shortstop J.J. Hardy, who had just come in for an injured Nick Punto, made a high toss to second on a possible double-play grounder. The play was first ruled an error, then changed to a hit, and Rick Ankiel's two-out, two-run single off Jose Mijares made it 5-4.
Punto left the game in the eighth after bunting for a base hit, but manager Ron Gardenhire said it appeared to be a cramp in the left hamstring and not a pull.
NOTES: Scott Podsednik singled in the third for KC to stretch his hitting streak to a career-high 15 games. ... Minnesota rookie Danny Valencia was 0 for 3 after going 8 for 9. ... The 72 hits the Twins rang up in their four previous games were their most in a four-game span in team history. Their previous high was 62. ... The Royals recalled RHP Bryan Bullington from Triple-A Omaha on Wednesday and optioned RHP Victor Marte to the Triple-A club. Bullington went two innings and gave up two hits.