Guthrie blanks Twins as Hoz collects five RBIs
Righty earns career-best 12th win as KC goes to 14-3 since break
KANSAS CITY -- The Wizard of Hoz and Jeremy Guthrie brewed up a magical evening.
Eric Hosmer conjured up a career-best five RBIs and Guthrie mystified Minnesota on four hits for his 12th victory, most of his career, as the Royals flattened the Twins, 13-0, on Monday night at Kauffman Stadium.
For the Royals, who've specialized in tight heart-stoppers this season, the blowout was a pleasant diversion.
"This was probably the least stressful game that we've played all year long. It was literally a stress-free game," manager Ned Yost said. "I can't remember a game all year that there wasn't some degree of stress involved at some point of the game."
The Royals haven't won such a lopsided shutout since May 16, 1987, when they beat Milwaukee, 13-0. Charlie Leibrandt pitched a one-hitter to win that one.
And it's a pleasant habit of winning that the Royals have developed, punching out their 14th victory against just three losses since the All-Star break. Four of those wins have come at the Twins' expense.
"This is a hot baseball team right here," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "They're doing a lot of things good. If you make mistakes against them right now, they'll kill ya."
Hosmer had a three-run homer, a two-run single and a double, but there was fun for all. Mike Moustakas had four hits to match his career high and he, Billy Butler and Alcides Escobar each had two RBIs.
"That's always nice when you're setting career highs and tying stuff like that, but at the end of the day if you ask me and you ask Hoz the only thing that matters is that we get a W," Moustakas said. "We're more concerned with trying to win a ballgame and all that other stuff will come when it comes, but right now we're right in this thing, right in the hunt so every win we get is big."
Guthrie (12-7) had reached his previous high in victories with 11 for Baltimore in 2010. He's won each of his last four starts. This was the second shutout of his career; the first came on May 4 over the Chicago White Sox, 2-0.
"Unfortunately, I've had big leads and not pitched as well so I try to stay focused," Guthrie said. "Runs can really pile up in a hurry so even with a 6-0 lead, I felt that I was pitching with a two- or three-run lead and trying to avoid a leadoff hit and a drive because this team's guys can really drive it. They've got some tough hitters throughout that can do damage if you lose focus."
That 6-0 lead came in a hurry and all in the second inning against Twins starter Kevin Correia.
Moustakas started the big inning with a double and finished it with a two-run single. In between, Escobar bunted safely, Hosmer lashed a two-run single, Butler belted a run-scoring single and Correia doled out three walks.
It stayed like that until Hosmer blasted his three-run homer, following singles by Jarrod Dyson and Lorenzo Cain, in the sixth inning. He connected off reliever Ryan Pressly, driving a 3-2 pitch over the center-field wall.
Four more runs came in the seventh, which featured Escobar's two-run single and Justin Maxwell's run-scoring single. All told, the Royals piled up 16 hits.
Guthrie's only real test came in the first inning with a long at-bat against leadoff man Brian Dozier that resulted in a strikeout followed by Joe Mauer's single and his only walk.
"Jeremy got his pitch count up in the first inning, but it all came off Dozier's first at-bat. It was like a 10-pitch at-bat," Yost said. "But from that point on, he really controlled the pitch count and executed his pitches to a high degree."
Guthrie retired the last 13 batters he faced and finished the game with just 106 pitches. An enormous fringe benefit was that the relief pitchers, worked to a frazzle on the just-completed road trip, didn't pick up a ball all night.
"The perfect timing came with Guthrie throwing a complete game and resting a bullpen that needed it," Yost said.
"It was good to give them a break," Guthrie said. "They've thrown a lot of big innings for us, so to get a win without having to tax them is going to be important for us."
The 8-1 road trip stirred up interest in Kansas City and the Royals sold 6,954 tickets on Monday alone. They're the talk of the town.
"It's fun. We're out there having fun," Hosmer said. "Guys are playing for each other and we're feeding off their energy. It's nice after a good road trip to come back home and see how much the fans appreciate the way we're playing, and it just makes everything we're doing so much fun."
The Royals can't seem to gain ground on first-place Detroit -- the Tigers won their ninth straight game by beating Cleveland on Monday -- and they're still 7 1/2 games behind in the American League Central standings. But the Royals aren't fading into oblivion as they've done in so many Augusts before.
"I think the fans have been waiting 10 years for this, I really do," Yost said. "And I'm glad that we can play well for them, I'm glad that we can bring some excitement to them, I'm glad that we can bring some hope to them because we feel pretty good about where we're at right now."
The Royals shook off a horrible May and regained respectability. Yost has seen his players, many of them relatively young and inexperienced, find themselves.
"I think that early in the year they thought they had enough talent to win. I think we're at a point in the year where they know they have enough talent to win," he said. "And there's a big difference between thinking you can and knowing you can."