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Archive for Saturday, April 5, 2008

K.C. absorbs first setback

Minnesota second baseman Matt Tolbert, left, bobbles the ball as Kansas City's Joey Gathright steals second base. The Twins defeated the Royals, 4-3, on Friday night in Minneapolis.

Minnesota second baseman Matt Tolbert, left, bobbles the ball as Kansas City's Joey Gathright steals second base. The Twins defeated the Royals, 4-3, on Friday night in Minneapolis.

April 5, 2008

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— The Minnesota Twins' second victory of the season came at a hefty price.

Carlos Gomez went 3-for-4 with a double and two stolen bases, but star right fielder Michael Cuddyer was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of a dislocated right index finger in Minnesota's 4-3 victory over Kansas City on Friday night, the Royals' first loss of the season.

Scott Baker (1-0) gave up three runs on seven hits in 62â3 innings and Joe Nathan picked up his second save, but the postgame mood was noticeably sullen with the news on Cuddyer.

He was going from first to third on a single by Justin Morneau in the third inning when he collided awkwardly with Alex Gordon on a headfirst slide into third base.

Cuddyer was 2-for-2 in the game, but needed stitches to close the gash on his finger and could be on the bench for a while.

"He's swinging the bat very well. He's very important in the outfield and he's our No. 3 hitter, which is huge," Morneau said. "Hopefully he's not out for too long."

Billy Butler had two hits and an RBI for the Royals (3-1), who lost a little momentum after a surprising sweep of the big-money Tigers in Detroit to start the season.

The perennially rebuilding Royals entered the night as the last unbeaten team in the majors and were three games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 2003 season.

"Well, the undefeated season is over I guess," first-year manager Trey Hillman said with a shrug. "But we'll line up again tomorrow."

The struggling Twins offense was able to get just enough against John Bale (0-1), who was making his first major-league start since Sept. 18, 2003, when he was with Cincinnati. He played in Japan for three seasons before signing with Kansas City last year, when he spent the first 89 games on the disabled list.

He was following in some big footsteps after Gil Meche, Brian Bannister and Zack Greinke shut down the heavy hitters in Motown to start the season.

Bale, the brother-in-law of Tampa Bay Lightning star Vincent LeCavalier, gave up four runs on 10 hits in 61â3 innings.

"Definitely excited about being back in the rotation," Bale said. "Hope to come back strong next week and give the team a chance to win."

His counterpart, Baker (1-0), endured his own frustrations this spring when he missed time because of a sore shoulder and the flu at camp.

"It was a tough spring training for me," Baker said. "I felt like I persevered through it."

The Royals worked him into deep counts and fouled off plenty of offerings, scoring three runs and running Baker's pitch count to 40 after two innings. But the right-hander settled down and retired 11 straight hitters, needing just six pitches to get through the third.

"His first start was fantastic," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

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