Kansas City, Mo. Cole De Vries had a couple of key strikeouts during what could have been the inning that doomed him to defeat against the Kansas City Royals, allowing him to escape further damage and keep the game tied.
He couldn’t remember what he threw to either of the batters.
“The whole thing is a blur,” he said, “to be honest with you.”
That’s because Minnesota responded to the Royals’ three runs with three of their own the next half inning, helping De Vries pick up his first major-league win with a 10-7 victory Monday night.
“It feels awesome,” said De Vries, a former undrafted free agent out of the University of Minnesota. “It’s something I’ve been waiting for my whole life.”
De Vries (1-1) had a whole lot of help.
Justin Morneau and Josh Willingham each hit two-run homers, and Trevor Plouffe also went deep. Jamey Carroll reached base four times with two RBIs, and Ben Revere also drove in two runs.
“It shows we can ad lib a little bit,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who was forced into a makeshift lineup when Joe Mauer showed up at the ballpark with a sore thumb. “We can pop a baseball, and I’ve always said if our pitcher gives us a chance, we can win some games.”
The Twins have won six of their last seven, to be exact.
The Twins led 4-1 in the bottom of the fourth when Mike Moustakas followed a pair of singles to start the inning with an RBI double. Jeff Francoeur proceeded to slap a grounder to Minnesota shortstop Brian Dozier, who let the ball go right through the wickets for a run.
Hosmer was next to bat and hit a grounder at second baseman Alexi Casilla, who stumbled all over himself for another error. The Royals wound up tying the game on the play.
De Vries ended the rally with the two key strikeouts.
“When something like that happens, someone has to pick it up,” he said. “I was happy to be able to do that, pick it up for the guys.”
Morneau broke the tie with his two-run shot off Will Smith (1-2), who was also making his third big league start. Plouffe’s homer moments later restored the three-run cushion.
The Twins survived two runs in the ninth by Kansas City, and Matt Capps got Johnny Giavotella to ground out with the tying run on deck to finish it.
Moustakas homered and had a pair of doubles with two RBIs, and Eric Hosmer also drove in two runs for the Royals, providing them with at least a few bright spots.
The error by shortstop by Alcides Escobar in the first inning certainly wasn’t one of them. Nor was the stretch of three walks issued by Royals pitchers in the sixth inning.
Smith was charged with seven runs on eight hits and two walks in 4 2-3 innings, a somewhat sobering performance after he allowed two runs over six frames his last time out.
“I thought he threw the ball OK at times. His ball would start on the corner and just drift back to the middle of the plate,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “They put the good end of the bat on it and drove it into the seats.”
Enough times to make De Vries a winner for the first time.
“I was impressed he was able to hang in there,” Gardenhire said. “Any time you get an opportunity to celebrate y our first career win, it’s a special deal.”
Notes: The Twins have committed five errors in their past two games, yet won both. ... Royals OF Alex Gordon went 0 for 4 to snap a seven-game hitting streak. ... Morneau has hit 14 homers at Kauffman Stadium, the most of any road ballpark. ... Hosmer has a seven-game hitting streak. ... The Twins put RHP Carl Pavano (strained right shoulder) on the 15-day DL and reinstated RHP Nick Blackburn (strained left quad) before the game. Blackburn will start Wednesday’s series finale. ... LHP Francisco Liriano goes Tuesday for Minnesota. LHP Bruce Chen starts for Kansas City.