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Updated: September 13th, 2011 9:30pm
Twins Daily: Offense reaches more new lows in 4-0 loss to Royals

Twins Daily: Offense reaches more new lows in 4-0 loss to Royals

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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Stuck in a battle to stay out of the American League Central cellar, the Minnesota Twins' offense came up empty yet again on Tuesday night in a 4-0 loss to the Kansas City Royals.

The skinny

The Twins' offensive woes may have hit a new low on Tuesday night.

Facing soft-tossing left-hander Chen, the Twins managed only two hits.

Two hits -- one of which was an infield single.

Chen blanked the Twins for eight innings, striking out eight and walking only one, and only one Twins baserunner reached scoring position all night.

Joe Mauer added an infield single in the ninth off reliever Louis Coleman.

The Royals jumped on Carl Pavano early with solo homers by Mike Moustakas and Alex Gordon. Eric Hosmer added an RBI groundout in the third, Gordon an RBI single in the fourth.

Pavano allowed four runs (three earned) on 11 hits in seven innings, striking out five and walking one.

With the loss, the Twins now trail the Royals by three games in the race to stay out of the bottom of the American League Central standings.

Turning point

It's hard to blame Pavano when the Twins' offense put together zero threats.

So the turning point in this game took place when Trevor Plouffe, Mauer and Michael Cuddyer were unable to drive home Ben Revere from second base in the top half of the first inning.

Plouffe popped out, Mauer flew to center and Cuddyer popped out in foul territory.

That effectively killed the Twins' only reasonable chance to score a run.

Numbers game

13: The number of times the Twins have been shut out this season.

15: Consecutive Twins batters retired by Royals pitching until Mauer's two-out, ninth-inning infield single.

3: Baserunners for the Twins against Chen.

2: Home runs for the Twins in nine games since Sept. 4 -- both hit by Mauer.

13: Runs scored by the Twins against the Angels on Sept. 2.

21: Runs scored in 10 games since.

Health report

• OF Michael Cuddyer was back in the lineup after missing six games with more wrist soreness. He and outfielder Jason Kubel (foot) are both likely to experience soreness until the offseason, but both will attempt to play as often as possible.

• RHP Scott Baker (elbow) and LHP Francisco Liriano (shoulder) are scheduled to throw bullpen sessions on Wednesday at Target Field. If all continues to go well, both are hoping to return as relievers before the end of the season.

On deck

The Twins look to avoid a winless road trip on Wednesday (3:10 p.m., 1500 ESPN) when right-hander Liam Hendriks (0-1, 3.86) faces right-hander Luke Hochevar (10-11, 4.73).

For Hendriks, September is somewhat of a litmus test to gauge whether he might be ready to jump into the starting rotation in April 2012, and he got off to a good start last week by allowing only three earned runs on four hits in seven innings against the White Sox in his first career major league start.

Hochevar has faced the Twins three times this season, posting a 4.66 ERA with seven strikeouts, seven walks and 19 hits allowed in 19 1/3 innings.

Coming up

• Thursday: Off day
• Friday: vs. Cleveland, 7:10 p.m. RHP Kevin Slowey (0-5, 6.07) vs. RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (4-11, 4.61)
• Saturday: vs. Cleveland, 12:10 p.m. RHP Anthony Swarzak (0-1, 3.86) vs. RHP Jeanmar Gomez (3-2, 3.95)

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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