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Updated: September 27th, 2011 9:40pm
Twins Daily: Rene Tosoni's grand slam helps stave off loss No. 100

Twins Daily: Rene Tosoni's grand slam helps stave off loss No. 100

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Thanks in large part to a grand slam by Rene Tosoni, the Minnesota Twins avoided loss No. 100 with a 7-4 win over the Kansas City Royals at Target Field on Tuesday night.

The skinny

Tosoni played the hero in Sunday's win against Cleveland with a 10th-inning blast, and on Tuesday his sixth-inning grand slam broke the game open.

With the Twins leading 3-2, left-hander Sean O'Sullivan loaded the bases with nobody out to start the frame -- Danny Valencia blooped a single to right, and Chris Parmelee and Trevor Plouffe each singled sharply.

Right-hander Vin Mazzaro came in to replace O'Sullivan, and Tosoni turned on the first pitch he saw for a grand slam over the seats in right.

"With the bases-loaded situation, we haven't exactly been very good lately," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We've hit a lot of balls back to the mound. So to actually see the ball go flying in the ball was pretty good, and Tosoni put a really nice swing on that."
Tosoni's blast was the first grand slam ever hit by a Twins player at Target Field.

"That situation, with bases loaded, you don't want to miss the fastball if he gives it to you," said Tosoni, who didn't recall ever hitting a grand slam at any level previously. "I was just looking for something over the plate that I could drive to the outfield. ... It felt pretty good off the bat."

Twins starter Anthony Swarzak allowed two earned runs on 10 hits in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out six, walked nobody and threw 98 pitches.

"Really the story for me was Swarzy," Gardenhire said. "This young man's pitched really, really well for us all year, and every role we've put him in he's done a heck of a job for us. And I can't say enough good things about him."

The Royals scored two runs off Joe Nathan in the ninth with help from a throwing error by right-fielder Joe Benson and a triple by Johnny Giavotella that bounced off the glove of center fielder Denard Span, who crashed into the wall two steps later.

The victory kept the Twins from losing their 100th game -- a mark only reached one other time in franchise history.

"You guys are the ones talking about it," Gardenhire said. "We can't worry about that. We've got one more game tomorrow, and when you guys ask the questions we answer them. No, we don't' want to lose 100."

Turning point

The game sort of dragged into the middle innings tied at 1-1, but back-to-back two-out triples by Denard Span and Ben Revere put the Twins up 3-1 before Tosoni finished things off.

Revere was thrown out at the plate to end the inning after blowing through a stop sign by third base coach Steve Liddle.

"Once I was at second, I was thinking, 'OK, I might have a chance,'" Revere said. "And I was coming around third and I saw Steve Liddle kind of waving me, 'go, go,' so I started coming. I Looked back up and I saw him (put the stop sign up). I was like (wide eyes). So I just kept going. I (thought) maybe he'd make a bad throw, then I saw Perez catch it and tag me. ...

"I'm probably dumb doing that. ... It's the end of the year. I just said let's go for it, see what happens."

Despite being thrown out, Revere walked back to the dugout to a standing ovation.

Numbers game

2: Grand slams for the Twins this season. The first one was hit by Michael Cuddyer in Anaheim on Aug. 3.

4: Home runs for Parmelee, whose second-inning blast tied the game 1-1. Parmelee's four home runs are enough to rank him sixth on the team for the entire season.

3: Singles for Plouffe, who raised his batting line to .238/.307/.395 with a 3-for-4 performance.

12: Errors this season for Plouffe, who fired one past first baseman Chris Parmelee in the sixth inning while trying to spin a double-play ball.

4.32: Swarzak's ERA to finish the season. "I'm glad that I got up here as early as I did this year," he said. "I kind of ran with the opportunity. I could look back on the season now and be pretty happy, whether it was pitching in the second dinning down seven runs, or pitching in the eighth inning with a no-hitter going, I gave the fans here everything I had and the coaching staff and the team everything I had this year. So I can hang my hat on that. I feel good about it."

Overheard

"We like the way he's gone about his business, the way he's handled himself very professionally all year long. He's showed a rubber arm, thrown a lot of pitches and came back a day or two later and do it again. Really, he's never backed away from wanting the ball."
-- Gardenhire on Swarzak

Health report

• Span said he was "a little shaken up" after crashing into the wall in the ninth inning, but he didn't seem too out of sorts in the clubhouse after the game. "I'm a little shaken up, I'm not going to lie," he said. "But I'm more pissed off that I missed the abll to be honest. That's a ball I want to catch, but a few people have been asking me, even when I came back, about whether I'm going to be thinking twice about running into walls or running into catchers. I'm going to play the game hard, and that's what I was trying to do. ... I was hoping that it didn't happen this soon. I was hoping that it would happen next year, but we'll see how I feel tomorrow."

• RHP Nick Blackburn is scheduled to have surgery on his sore right forearm Friday, according to the Pioneer Press. Blackburn has been sidelined since Aug. 21 with the discomfort.

• OF Jason Kubel (sprained foot) was officially ruled out for the final two games of the season prior to Tuesday's contest.

• 2B Alexi Casilla (hamstring) was placed on the 60-day disabled list as a procedural move to make room on the 40-man roster for right-hander Esmerling Vasquez.

On deck

It all comes down to this.

To avoid losing 100 games, the Twins must defeat crafty Royals left-hander Bruce Chen (12-8, 3.98) in the final game of the season on Wednesday (7:10 p.m., 1500 ESPN).

In his last outing against the Twins on Sept. 13, Chen allowed only two hits -- one of them an infield single -- and no runs in eight innings. He struck out eight and walked one.

Chen's mound opponent, right-hander Carl Pavano (8-13, 4.48), will enter the game having allowed a major league-high 257 hits, including at least nine in 11 of his last 13 starts. Part of that is due to poor middle-infield defense, however, as Pavano has induced at least 10 groundballs in 10 straight games.

Coming up

Offseason begins

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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