Twins Daily: 99 losses is 'a lot better than (expletive) 100'
Get the 1500 ESPN SportsWire delivered to your inbox daily, and keep up with all the news in Twin Cities Sports
MINNEAPOLIS -- A complete-game shutout by Carl Pavano coupled with a walk-off single by Trevor Plouffe helped the Minnesota Twins avoid loss No. 100 in the final game of the season with a 1-0 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday night.
Pavano pitched around a leadoff triple in the top of the eighth inning to preserve a scoreless tie, and Plouffe's two-out, RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning sent everyone home happy.
With back-to-back victories to finish the season, the Twins (63-99) avoided reaching the 100-loss plateau.
"I don't even know how to say this, but at this point right now, how you could feel so glad to lose just 99 games," said Pavano, who pitched the full nine innings, allowing only five baserunners. "The 100th was like... I mean, not that I'm happy about losing the 99, but it's a lot better than (expletive) 100 games to be honest with you."
Even though he came to the ballpark feeling a bit jarred after crashing into the wall on Tuesday night, pinch-hitter Denard Span hit a one-out double down the right-field line to ignite the ninth-inning rally. The extra-base hit set the table for Plouffe, who was mobbed by his teammates after Span crossed home plate.
"When I saw Denard get that hit, I knew that I might have a chance," Plouffe said. "Anybody in our dugout would have traded places with me in a heartbeat. It's kind of what it's alla bout is being in those situations and wanting to be there. And I was the lucky guy to be up at that time, and it's just a good way to end. ...
"It's been a trying year for us. We're not where we want to be. Ninety-nine losses isn't a great year. The 100-loss thing was looming over us, but honestly we didn't care about that, because 99 is not too different than 100."
After retiring the Royals in the top of the ninth, Pavano had thrown only 95 pitches, meaning it appeared that he might come back out for the 10th inning if the Twins didn't score.
"He was doing a Jack Morris imitation on me and we told him no," said manager Ron Gardenhire, who added, "We wanted (Joe) Nathan to get in the game one way or the other."
Had Plouffe not driven in Span, Nathan would have entered the game.
Royals' left-hander Bruce Chen shut the Twins out for eight innings. He allowed eight hits, two walks and struck out four, and it marked the second straight start in which Chen shut the Twins out for eight.
With the game still scoreless, Mike Moustakas led off the top of the eighth inning with a towering fly ball to the right-field corner that bounced off the wall and back over Michael Cuddyer's head toward the infield. By the time first baseman Chris Parmelee fielded the ball, Moustakas coasted into third base with a triple.
The next batter, Lorenzo Cain, ripped a changeup back up the middle, but Pavano knocked it down and tossed to first base for the first out.
Mitch Maier followed with a swinging bunt in front of the mound that Pavano turned into out number two.
Pavano then induced an inning-ending groundout off the bat of Alcides Escobar to end the frame.
619: Total runs scored by the Twins this season, which marks their lowest 162-game total since 1968 (562).
804: Runs allowed by Twins pitchers, marking the most since 2000 (880).
2: The number of Twins hitters, out of the 22 who batted at least once, that finished the season with a .300 batting average or higher. Brian Dinkelman finished with a .301/.346/.315 line, and Parmelee batted .355/.443/.592.
"First mustache I've had all year. I've tried everything else, and I guess I don't even know what to say. Everybody wants to point to the 'stache. I'm not that superstitious, but I was trying to have a little fun. And we definitely had some fun tonight winning the ballgame. So whatever you gotta do. Maybe it'll be back in spring training, I don't know. The elusive mustache."
-- Pavano, who sported a mustache for Wednesday night's game.
• OF Denard Span said he felt "a little jarred" on Wednesday after crashing into the center-field fence in the ninth inning of Tuesday's game, but he apparently felt good enough to pinch hit in the ninth inning. Span called his end-of-the-season return a success, and his manager concurred. "Oh, absolutely," Gardenhire said. "I think you saw (Tuesday) night, you saw what he can do. He was running around out there, it was nice to have him back out there, and it was nice to have him back out there. People forgot this guys been out for a long part of the season too and he's a big part of our lineup. Your leadoff guy, high on-base percentage guy, takes a lot of pitches, plays a pretty good center field, not a lot of talk about him, but that's huge, getting on in front of the big guys and we didn't have that."
• 1B Justin Morneau said he still feels numbness in his left hand, and it could be a long period of time before he regains full feeling. Still not fully over his concussion symptoms that re-triggered in August, Morneau expressed his desire Wednesday for the front office to keep its foot on the gas pedal.