KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Samuel Deduno fixed Twins manager Ron Gardenhire with a stare. Gardy stared right back.
Nobody wanted to budge.
It was the sixth inning and Deduno had been shutting down the punchless Kansas City Royals all night, but he’d just allowed a leadoff double. Gardenhire trundled out to the mound while calling to the bullpen, only to receive a withering look from his young right-handed pitcher.
“He was definitely eyeballing me,” Gardenhire said. “And I was definitely eyeballing him when we got out of the inning. I told him, `I think I know what I’m doing, Sammy.”‘
The Twins’ bullpen picked Deduno up by escaping his sixth-inning jam, and then kept the Royals off the scoreboard the rest of the way in a 3-0 win Tuesday night that left Kansas City with its franchise-record 11th consecutive home loss.
“I want him to eyeball me. I don’t want him to come out of the game. But that was actually a really cool stare,” Gardenhire said afterward, recalling his light-hearted exchange with his pitcher.
“He stared me down,” Gardy said. “I melted, but I went and got him anyway.”
Deduno (2-1) allowed four hits over six-plus innings for the Twins, who have rebounded nicely from a 10-game losing streak to win eight of 10. They also managed to exact a little revenge on the Royals, who swept them in early April — a three-game set that seems long ago.
While the Twins have soared, the Royals have lost 22 of their last 28 games.
“We’re just not getting the job done right now. It’s plain and simple,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “You can come up with all the reasons and all the excuses why, but we’re just not producing offense for our pitchers right now. Those things turn, but it’s an extended stretch for us where we’ve been struggling offensively.”
The way Kansas City has been hitting lately, the game was basically decided when Ryan Doumit went deep off Luis Mendoza (1-3) leading off the fourth inning. Just to be safe, Doumit and Josh Willingham added RBI singles in the fifth inning to provide the Twins with a three-run cushion.
Glen Perkins pitched a perfect ninth for his 12th save.
“We can’t get the guys in when we need to,” said Billy Butler, who had one of the Royals’ four hits. “I was on second with nobody out and we had a guy (Lorenzo Cain) on third with less than two out. There are two runs right there. We’ve got to pick up the easy ones when we can.”
Mendoza didn’t allow a hit until Doumit’s shot in the fourth. The right-hander escaped the inning, but four straight one-out hits in the fifth ultimately knocked him from game.
It was the 18th straight time that the Royals’ starter has failed to win a decision.
Their offense has been the biggest culprit: The Royals are hitting.183 with runners in scoring position since May 21, when they led the AL with a .308 average in such situations. That includes going 0 for 7 on Tuesday night, and 2 for 27 over their past three games.
It’s certainly not the start that Hall of Famer George Brett wanted to get off to as the team’s interim hitting coach. The Royals’ offense has continued to scuffle in the five games since Jack Maloof and Andre David were reassigned and Brett given his familiar No. 5 jersey to wear.
“You just keep hoping every day you come to the park that you’re going to break out of it,” Yost said. “George is working tirelessly with these hitters, with their mental and physical approach. We come to the park everyday hoping we snap out of it.”
The Twins, meanwhile, have already snapped out of their malaise.
After enduring one of the longest losing streaks in franchise history, their offense has propelled the Twins to seven wins in their last eight games — four straight over Milwaukee and a series win over Seattle that was highlighted by a 10-0 blowout in the finale on Sunday.
Doumit has been one of the catalysts for the resurgence. He’s hitting .324 with four homers and 13 RBIs over his last eight games, just as the Twins have been catching fire.
“I’m just getting back to basics,” Doumit said. “After a slow start, I watched some video and just tried to get back and simplify things.”
Maybe that’s the approach the Royals should take.
Deduno, who turned heads for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, struck out five while walking just two of them. It was his second straight strong start after allowing one run on four hits in seven innings in a victory over the Brewers last Wednesday night.
“Everything was working — the fastball was working, the curveball and changeup. Everything was working,” Deduno said. “I’ve got a lot more confidence, and everything was working.”
NOTES: Royals C Salvador Perez was reinstated from the restricted list and RHP Kelvin Herrera recalled from Triple-A Omaha. C Adam Moore and RHP Louis Coleman were optioned to Omaha. … Twins OF Clete Thomas joined the team after his contract was selected from Triple-A Rochester on Monday. … RHP J.P. Walters starts Wednesday night for Minnesota against Royals RHP Jeremy Guthrie.
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