What looked like extenuating circumstances the first 18 games of the season has become official this week in Kansas City:
The Twins can't hit on the road, and in particular the run-producing middle of the order really can't hit on the road.
The struggles on the opening road trip were blamed on everything from cool weather in Cleveland to a slow start that lots of teams go through. The three-game series last weekend in Chicago -- well, that's White Sox pitching, right?
But not even the Twins can come up with a reasonable excuse for why a lineup at full strength for the first time has just 10 hits in 65 at-bats (.154) through two games at Kansas City against the worst pitching staff in the majors. The heart of the order? Heck, start with No. 2 and go through No. 7 -- those six hitters have gone just 2-for-21 on back-to-back nights.
Meanwhile, the team has just three runs to show for the two games, including one in a 3-1 loss to right-hander Runelvys Hernandez on Wednesday.
The Twins are hitting just .243 (89-for-367) in 11 road games, averaging just 3.3 runs per game.
"It's got to turn around," designated hitter Rondell White said. "I mean, it has to."
REPLAY: Ruynelvys Hernandez, in his return from a minor league exile forced because he showed up to spring training overweight, shut down the Twins on two hits over seven innings, leading Kansas City to a 3-1 win. The Royals evened the three-game series at one game apiece.
Justin Morneau homered off Hernandez for the Twins' only run, as Minnesota dropped to 2-9 on the road, 1-4 on the current nine-game road trip.
NOTES, QUOTES:RHP Scott Baker produced to the Twins' fifth quality start of the season Wednesday -- and third straight that did not net a victory for the starter. Baker dropped to 1-2 despite owning the best ERA on the starting staff (3.47) by more than a point.CF Torii Hunter, the No. 5 hitter in the order, is just 3-for-22 (.136) in his past six games with only one RBI. That RBI came on a solo home run in a 9-2 loss to the White Sox on Saturday.DH Rondell White, the cleanup hitter who seemed to turn a corner on his season-opening slump while playing in left field over the weekend, is 1-for-8 against a Royals pitching staff that ranks last in the majors in ERA and that White has hit well in his career.1B Justin Morneau was 0-for-15 before hitting a solo home run in the fifth inning Wednesday.After the Twins' starting rotation took a major league worst 6.75 ERA into this week's series in Kansas City, RHPs Kyle Lohse and Scott Baker combined for 13 innings in which they surrendered just four earned runs (2.77).