Royals 6, Twins 2
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Kevin Appier has heard the whispers since spring training _ the frugal Kansas City Royals will trade one of their few high-salaried players in exchange for prospects as they continue a youth movement.
Appier sees the scouts in the stands. He knows his agent has spent the afternoon talking contract with Royals general manager Herk Robinson without success.
So the right-hander goes out, survives a shaky two innings and turns in a dominant performance for the second straight start to beat the Minnesota Twins 6-2 Friday night.
``I’m aware that they go out there,″ Appier says of scouts from other teams who see him as a possible last piece to a pennant drive. ``I’m aware that they’re coming around. But I don’t think about it when I’m pitching. You’ve got so much to think about when you’re out there. You just think about doing your job. It’s a good game anytime as long as we win.″
Appier gave up single runs in the first and second innings, but settled down and finished his second complete game of the season and 24th of his career by retiring the last 15 batters he faced.
``The first two innings, I didn’t have the rhythm that is so key to me,″ Appier said. ``It seemed like I had none. It seemed like the strike zone was floating around on me. I just couldn’t put it where I wanted to. I had almost no location on my fastball.″
Appier (7-7) finished with eight strikeouts, giving up the two runs on five hits. He walked two.
``The first couple of innings, he didn’t have it,″ catcher Sal Fasano said. ``By the fourth, I could see he had it back. He didn’t have any zip on his fastball at the start. Then he settled down and got in his groove. Then he had as good a fastball as I’ve seen in a while.″
Appier also rediscovered a slider that had deserted him.
``You better believe that makes it tough. I’m just glad I don’t have to hit against him,″ Fasano said with a shake of his head.
Appier had struck out 11 in eight innings in his last start at Baltimore in a 4-0 Royals win. The Orioles are reported to be one of the teams interested in acquiring him.
The Royals and Appier have agreed in principal on money _ Appier being willing to take less than he might get as a free agent. But he wants an absolute no-trade clause in a long-term contract. The Royals want a limited no-trade clause in which Appier can name four teams that he could not be traded to.
``He pitched a good game against Baltimore and he backed it up tonight,″ Twins manager Tom Kelly said. ``I believe that’s one of the better games he’s pitched against us. It looks like he’s got himself straightened out and got himself back on track.″
Keith Lockhart broke out of a 1-for-14 slump with three hits, including two doubles that drove in three runs. Lockhart hit a two-run double in the third to tie the game, and then doubled in the first run in a four-run sixth.
Michael Tucker, Jose Offerman and Fasano had RBI singles in the inning off Twins starter Brad Radke, who lost his fifth straight to drop to 4-10.
Marty Cordova singled in Minnesota’s first run in the first to extend his hitting streak to 22 games, matching Roberto Alomar for the longest streak in the majors this season.
Rich Hollins was hit by Appier in the second, took third on Greg Myers’ single and scored as Jeff Reboulet grounded into a double play.
After that, it was Appier’s night.
``It’s been pretty realistic all year that I might be traded,″ said Appier, a free agent at the end of the season. ``Hopefully, that’s something that doesn’t happen. I hope I can stay here. I hope it happens.″