Twins 7, Royals 0

Andrew Albers still remembers exactly what he was thinking about

as he drove the 40 hours from Arizona to Florida for one last

chance at being a big league ballplayer.

”I just wanted a shot,” he said.

The left-hander made the most of his tryout with the Minnesota

Twins that day two years ago, earning a minor league contract.

On Tuesday night, Albers got an even bigger shot at realizing

his dreams when he made his major league debut against the Kansas

City Royals.

Just like he did back then, Albers made the most of it. He

allowed four hits while pitching into the ninth inning, leading the

Twins to a 7-0 victory at Kauffman Stadium.

”It’s hard to put into words, but it was special to go out and

have that kind of performance in your debut,” he said.

”Unfortunately, it’s probably not going to get much better from

there.”

The first big leaguer from Saskatchewan in more than 20 years,

Albers only allowed a collection of singles to one of the hottest

teams in baseball, and at one point retired 15 straight.

He ended up two outs shy of his third straight complete game

dating back to his days with Triple-A Rochester, and the first

shutout in a big league debut since Detroit’s Andy Van Hekken did

it in 2002. Casey Fien wound up finishing it up when Albers began

to labor in the ninth inning.

”I didn’t want to go out there and take him out,” Twins

manager Ron Gardenhire said, ”but he was completely out of gas

there at the end. Wow that was fun to watch.”

The Twins took most of the pressure off Albers with a big night

at the plate. Brian Dozier homered and drove in three runs, and

Justin Morneau and Chris Colabello also went deep.

All that damage came against Shields (6-8), who even balked in a

run during his worst start in nearly two years.

The former All-Star gave up three runs in the first inning and

never settled down the rest of the evening, laboring through six

innings on an uncomfortably humid night.

”Sometimes this can happen,” Shields said, ”but I’ve got to

do a better job.”

The Twins hammered Shields right from the start. Dozier’s homer

was the first leadoff shot for Minnesota since Denard Span went

deep against the Phillies on June 12, 2012.

Jamey Carroll promptly worked a walk and Morneau, who came into

the game hitting .371 against Shields, added a two-run shot later

in the first to stake the Twins to a 3-0 lead.

Shields continued to struggle with his command in the second

inning, walking Chris Herrmann to lead it off and then plunking

Clete Thomas. Doug Bernier laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to

move both runners up, and Herrmann scored on Dozier’s sacrifice

fly.

Colabello hit his third homer of the year in the fourth, and

then plunged Shields into more trouble with a leadoff single in the

sixth. Herrmann added a single to put runners on the corners, and a

balk by Shields on a pickoff move to third base brought in another

run.

Dozier drove in his third run of the game with a single to make

it 7-0.

It was the first time Shields allowed at least seven runs since

Aug. 21, 2011, when he was still with Tampa Bay. The three homers

he allowed were the most since June 2 of the same year.

”He just had trouble getting the ball down,” Royals manager

Ned Yost said. ”Command was the issue most of the night for him.

After the second inning it got a little better.”

Albers couldn’t have gotten a whole lot better.

The first big leaguer from Saskatchewan since 1991, when Terry

Puhl retired, Albers showed promise when he was drafted by the

Padres in 2008.

But he needed Tommy John surgery the next year and was released

before showing what he could do with a rebuilt elbow, finally

ending up with the Quebec Capitales of the Can-Am League when he

was healthy enough to pitch again.

Albers failed to impress in a pair of big league tryouts in

Arizona in 2011, but he was willing to drive at his own expense to

Florida for another try with the Twins.

His only other option was to head home to North Battleford and

get on with life, Albers showed just enough to earn himself a

job.

”For a guy who’s not a prototypical prospect, for them to stick

with me the way they have, it’s pretty special,” said Albers, who

was 11-5 with a 2.86 ERA at Rochester before getting called upon to

replace fellow Canadian Scott Diamond in the Twins’ rotation.

”You dream about this,” he said, ”but you never know if it’ll

actually happen.”

Notes: The Royals will recall LHP Danny Duffy from Triple-A

Omaha to start Wednesday night against the Twins’ Samuel Deduno. It

will be Duffy’s first big league start since May 2012 after having

Tommy John surgery. … Twins 3B Trevor Plouffe was held out of the

lineup as a precaution after tumbling head-first into the dugout to

catch a foul ball Monday. … Twins SS Pedro Florimon (sore left

wrist) took BP and could start Wednesday. … Twins OF Darin

Mastrioianni (left ankle stress reaction) left to begin a minor

league rehab assignment with Triple-A Rochester.