MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Twins entered the final series of the season with one goal — to avoid losing 100 games.
They’re one game away from making that happen. In a season that has been so disappointing, they’ll take any small victory they can get.
Rene Tosoni hit a grand slam and Chris Parmelee also went deep to lift the Twins to a 7-4 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night.
Anthony Swarzak (4-7) gave up two runs on 10 hits with six strikeouts in 6 1-3 innings for the Twins (62-99), who are hoping to avoid becoming just the second team in franchise history to lose 100 games in a season.
“We want to win tomorrow and stay away from that stuff,” manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Sean O’Sullivan (2-6) gave up six runs on nine hits with one strikeout in five innings for the Royals. Johnny Giavotella had two doubles and a triple and Salvador Perez added two hits and an RBI for Kansas City.
O’Sullivan gave up three straight singles to start the sixth before leaving. Tosoni hit Vin Mazzaro’s first pitch well into the right field seats for a 7-2 lead.
Tosoni said he couldn’t remember the last time he hit a grand slam. He didn’t hit one in the minors and couldn’t remember hitting one as a prep star in Canada, either.
“It felt pretty good off the bat,” Tosoni said with a chuckle.
The Royals scored twice in the ninth off Twins closer Joe Nathan before Eric Hosmer struck out to end the game.
Parmelee had two hits to raise his average to .351, continuing his impressive showing since being called up from Double-A New Britain. His 427-foot homer to right-center field tied the game 1-1 in the second inning.
Trevor Plouffe had three hits while Ben Revere and Denard Span had RBI-triples for the Twins. Revere tried to turn his into an inside-the-park home run in the fifth, but he was thrown out by Alcides Escobar at home after running through coach Steve Liddle’s stop sign.
It ended up not mattering after Tosoni a fastball from Mazzaro soaring out of the ballpark for just the second grand slam by a Twins player this season.
“I was trying to make contact on the guy and get a double play,” Mazzaro said. “It was just middle down and I was trying to go in on him and it just leaked back over the plate.”
The Twins have only lost 100 games one other time in their proud history, back in 1982 when they went 60-102.
“I haven’t talked about it much with other guys, but you don’t want to get to that mark,” Tosoni said. “We want to finish winning, so that’s our plan.”
The struggles this season seemingly came out of the nowhere.
The Twins won the previous two AL Central titles and came into this season brimming with confidence. But injuries to practically every starter on the roster, including stars Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Jim Thome and Jason Kubel, were too much to overcome.
They sunk to the bottom of the American League and started the day a full 10 games behind the improving Royals for last place in the division.
The setback slightly stunted some nice momentum the Royals had been building as the season comes to a close. They had won 11 of their previous 14 games, getting promising performances from a bevy of highly touted youngsters including Mike Moustakas, Hosmer and Escobar.
Moustakas had two hits in the game.
Swarzak gave up an RBI single to Lorenzo Cain in the second and one more run on a fielder’s choice in the sixth in an impressive performance. He has been a jack of all trades for the Twins’ banged up pitching staff, and his versatility has put him in good standing with the organization heading into next season.
“I’ve put myself in pretty good position for a job next year,” Swarzak said. “Where that is, I don’t know and honestly I don’t care. I just want the ball.”
NOTES: Tosoni’s slam was the first by a Twins player at Target Field in the two-year history of the park. … The Royals traded 1B Kila Ka’aihue to the Oakland Athletics for minor league RHP Ethan Hollingsworth. He went 6-5 with a 3.61 ERA in 17 appearances at Double-A Midland and was assigned to Triple-A Omaha. … The Twins claimed RHP Esmerling Vasquez off waivers from Arizona. Vasquez went 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA in 31 relief appearances for the Diamondbacks. … The Twins will send RHP Carl Pavano (8-13, 4.48 ERA) to the mound for the season finale on Wednesday. Pavano is 1-2 with a 4.45 ERA in four starts against the Royals this season. Pavano also started on opening day for the Twins. … The Royals will pitch LHP Bruce Chen (12-8, 3.98). A victory in the finale would give Chen a career high 13 wins on the season. The last time the crafty lefty faced the Twins, he pitched eight shutout innings in a 4-0 win on Sept. 13.
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