Pair of Royals tax Twins' Baker

Pair of Royals tax Twins' Baker

KANSAS CITY -- Tony Pena Jr. and Willie Bloomquist made Twins starter Scott Baker work overtime, but, ultimately, it was Baker who cashed in with a 2-1 victory on Tuesday night.

The two batters forced Baker to throw a whopping 26 pitches in just two at-bats.

"Sometimes you're just wanting them to put them in play and just putting it over the plate so they'll put it in play," Baker said. "They don't do that, so you just keep doing that until they do. Fortunately, it worked out."

Pena had an 11-pitch at-bat before striking out with the bases loaded and two outs in the fourth inning. He worked the count from 0-2 to full and fouled off five pitches before fanning on a foul tip that catcher Joe Mauer hung on to.

"It was right on the corner. It would've been a strike if I didn't swing at it," Pena said. "Especially you've got two strikes, 3-2, you don't want to take a chance with the bases loaded and take a strikeout looking."

Baker felt Pena was the toughest at-bat of the night.

"I always felt like Pena, even though he's not hitting well this year, always sees me well. I don't know what the numbers are, if they are good or bad," Baker said, unaware Pena was just 1-for-9 against him. "But I had to come at him. It's the nature of the situation. If he hits it, he hits it. If he doesn't, he doesn't."

Bloomquist went even longer with Baker in the fifth inning. His at-bat lasted 15 pitches, with four pickoff throws to first base also in the mix. Alas, David DeJesus, who had walked, was picked off for the first out.

"He gave me some good pitches to hit; I'm just a little off right now. Instead of squaring 'em up, I was fouling 'em back," said Bloomquist, who fouled off a total of 11 pitches before he flied out deep to left field.

"He takes his time between pitches, too, so it was one of the longer at-bats I can remember having. You like to end those by getting under the pitcher's skin and getting on base, but, unfortunately, it didn't happen."

Those two at-bats helped drive Baker's pitch count to 111 in just five innings, after which he was relieved. But the Twins broke a 1-1 tie in the top of the sixth, so he got the victory.

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