Sweeney homers twice, but Royals fall

Sweeney homers twice, but Royals fall

KANSAS CITY -- Old-fashioned uniforms and an old-fashioned thriller.

That was the scenario Sunday as the Royals, despite two home runs by Mike Sweeney, lost to the Minnesota Twins in 12 innings, 3-2, at Kauffman Stadium.

On a sunny afternoon with 17,094 at a salute to the Negro Leagues, the Twins wore replica 1909 uniforms of the St. Paul Gophers. The Royals were decked out in 1948 Kansas City Monarchs garb.

In 1909 and 1948, however, the willows and war clubs undoubtedly were more solid than today's whippy, splintering bats.

In the 12th inning Sunday, Royals third baseman Mark Teahen had to battle a reality of the modern game. As Torii Hunter's ground ball rolled toward him at a crucial moment, half of a shattered bat was sailing at him as well.

"I thought we were done with this bad luck but it hit us again," losing pitcher Mike Wood said.

Small wonder, with two objects hurtling in his direction, that Teahen booted the ball.

"We don't have a drill for that," Teahen said.

Although there were two outs, he was playing in a bit just in case Hunter bunted. And the ball hugged the ground, making for a tough play. But, instead of a third out, Teahen got an error and Nick Punto scampered home from third base with the tie-breaking run.

"Both of them were right in front of me so I guess I saw both of them. Then I saw the ball hit off my glove," Teahen said.

"I can make a million excuses but it doesn't really matter, it doesn't change it."

Too bad, because Sweeney had another marvelous day.

In the fourth, against Twins starter Carlos Silva, Sweeney socked a home run to cut the lead to 2-1. It was Sweeney's 10th homer and his first since May 10, three injuries ago.

In the ninth, with the Twins ahead, 2-1, Sweeney struck again. This time closer Joe Nathan was the victim of a long, high drive into the left-field seats.

It was an epic, 10-pitch duel, All-Star closer against All-Star slugger. Sweeney fouled off six pitches before connecting on a 2-2 pitch for a 2-2 tie.

"We were battling, man. It was like two bulls locking horns and it's the first hit I've got off him because he's got great stuff," Sweeney said.

Sweeney also drilled a line drive off the left-field fence in the sixth but was thrown out trying for a double.

   Mike Sweeney  /   1B
Born: 07/22/73
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 225 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R

"He's amazing. He's an All-Star," Wood said. "He comes back from being hurt and I don't think he's made an out yet."

It just seems that way. Sweeney, after missing the series opener with a bruised forearm, was 11-for-15 with seven RBIs and three runs scored. Included was a five-hit game Saturday night.

His last shot Sunday came as he led off the 12th, but he tapped back to pitcher Jesse Crain. A home run bid by Matt Stairs was negated by center fielder Lew Ford's leaping catch against the wall.

"I missed it," Stairs said. "With two strikes, it cuts down on your swing a little bit but I thought it had a chance."

The only lapse for Royals starter D.J. Carrasco came in the second inning. Jacque Jones led off with a single and Justin Morneau stroked a one-out single. Luis Rodriguez's double and Luis Rivas' single each drove in a run.

"I'm going to pretty much live and die with my sinker. I give up ground balls and they found a couple holes and Rodriguez hit a line drive down the right-field line," Carrasco said.

Working in a dark blue, long-sleeved vintage uniform, Silva went seven innings and gave up five hits. Carrasco worked seven innings with 10 hits, but catcher Alberto Castillo threw out two runners and there were two double plays.

Neither starter issued a base on balls.

The Monarchs uniform, Carrasco noted, was a bit heavier than normal gear but the looser, airy fit helped.

"It was pretty tough. I'd go down between innings and sit in the batting cage where it was a little cooler. But Silva was on a roll, man. I'd get a couple of breaths of air and I was back out there," Carrasco said.

It was a fast-moving game, all right, just the way they played them in the old days.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.