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Updated: April 12th, 2011 10:34pm
Twins Daily: Danny Valencia's walk-off hit wins it in 10 innings

Twins Daily: Danny Valencia's walk-off hit wins it in 10 innings

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Danny Valencia's walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th inning off right-hander Robinson Tejeda gave the Minnesota Twins a 4-3 win over the Kansas City Royals.

The skinny

The 10th-inning rally began with a one-out single to right field by Delmon Young, who was replaced by pinch runner Jason Repko.

After Michael Cuddyer's walk put runners on first and second with one out, Jason Kubel drove a long fly ball toward the fence in right field. Right-fielder Jeff Francoeur corralled it on the warning track momentarily, but dropped it at the last second.

Repko -- who got caught up between second and third while waiting to see where the fly ball fell -- wound up only gaining third base.

But Valencia sent everyone home, driving a fastball into right field for the game-winning RBI single.

Regarding Tejeda's fastball up in the zone, Valencia said the right-hander "was doing me a favor really at that point, because I was kind of defensive. But he left it up, and I was able to poke it into right and win the game."

Turning point

Back-to-back unmade defensive plays in the seventh inning nearly sealed the Twins' fate, but the bullpen came through to slam the door shut.

With the Twins leading 3-2, Alcides Escobar led off with a slow groundball to third baseman Valencia's left. Valencia fielded and threw on the run, but his toss pulled first baseman Justin Morneau off the bag.

The next batter, Chris Getz, dropped down what was supposed to be a sacrifice bunt in front of Duensing, who fielded and threw high over the head of Luke Hughes, who was covering first base on the play. Escobar advanced to third on the play and Getz to second.

Melky Cabrera followed with a liner off Duensing's leg, leading to an infield RBI single that tied the score 3-3.

With runners on first and third and nobody out, the Royals had a golden opportunity to break the game open -- or, at the very least, take a late-inning lead.

But Jose Mijares fanned Alex Gordon swinging, and Matt Capps came on to induce a harmless infield pop-out by Billy Butler before freezing Francoeur for an inning-ending strikeout, stranding Getz at third base.

Numbers game

4: Hits for Michael Cuddyer on Tuesday (all singles) -- the 10th such game of his career. Cuddyer's last four-hit game came on August 9, 2009 at Detroit. He also drew a walk in his fifth plate appearance Tuesday.

11: Runners left on base for the Twins, including two in the bottom of the ninth. After praising Valencia for coming through with the clutch hit, manager Ron Gardenhire was also critical of his third baseman's baserunning in the ninth inning, when he failed to move from first to third on Jim Thome's single to right. "I think he knows that," Gardenhire said. "We have to play aggressive, and he has to be aggressive there. (We) could have won it then." With right-fielder Jeff Francoeur having a cannon, Valencia played it safe and held up at second base. "He's probably right," Valencia said about Gardenhire's assessment. "So it's my mistake. I've been messing up a little too much on the base paths -- probably should clean that up."

Of course, he did make up for it later. "Yeah, thank God," Valencia added. "Jeez."

0: Number of runs scored this season by the Twins in the first two innings this season.

38,154: Tuesday night's paid attendance, which ends the Twins' 81-game sellout streak at Target Field.

15: The number of strikes thrown by Capps in 19 pitches over 1 2/3 innings. Capps struck out one while allowing zero runs and zero baserunners.

Health watch

• 2B Tsuyoshi Nishioka (broken fibula) was moving around and playing catch without crutches or a wheelchair prior to Tuesday's game, which is a good sign, but Gardenhire cautioned "It's going to be a while" before he is anywhere near being ready to return. Nishioka will not travel with the team on the road.

• RHP Kevin Slowey (shoulder bursitis) will not travel either.

Overheard

"I thought Kubel's was going to be in the upper deck. Honestly. Like, he crushed it. It was a combination of the wind blowing in, this park being big. It was almost an out. It's unbelievable."
-- Valencia on Kubel's warning-track fly ball in the 10th.

"I thought it was too."
-- Kubel, aggreeing with Valencia's assessment.

On deck

The Twins wrap up a five-game homestand Wednesday (12:10 p.m., 1500 ESPN) when left-hander Francisco Liriano (0-2, 7.71) battles right-hander Kyle Davies (1-0, 6.75).

Liriano has not gotten off to a good start this season, allowing eight earned runs in only 9 1/3 innings over his first two outings. He has walked eight to go along with eight strikeouts, and he has fallen behind hitters more often than not (46% first-pitch strikes, compared to 62% last season).

Davies, however, has been one of the more hittable pitchers in baseball over the last few years. Davies' 5.08 ERA since 2008 is the second-highest mark of any pitcher behind Brian Bannister (5.57). Against current Twins hitters, Davies has allowed a .288/.406/.429 batting line in 187 plate appearances.

Coming up

• Thursday: @ Tampa Bay, 5:40 p.m. RHP Carl Pavano (1-1, 6.00) vs. RHP Wade Davis (0-2, 4.38).
• Friday: @ Tampa Bay, 6:10 p.m. RHP Nick Blackburn (1-1, 0.77) vs. RHP Jeff Niemann (0-2, 8.31).
• Saturday: @ Tampa Bay, 3:10 p.m. RHP Scott Baker (0-2, 6.55) vs. Jeremy Hellickson (0-1, 15.88).

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
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