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Archive for Sunday, August 6, 2006

Minnesota packs punch

K.C. starter Hernandez walks nine

August 6, 2006

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— Justin Morneau, Luis Castillo and Nick Punto provided much of the offense for the Minnesota Twins on Saturday night, but they went about it in different ways.

Morneau jump-started the Twins' offense with a three-run homer in 14-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals, who matched a franchise record by issuing 14 walks.

Castillo had his 15th career four-hit game and drove in a run in the fourth, fifth and eight innings.

Punto drove in three runs without a hit, using two sacrifice flies and walking in the fifth with the bases loaded.

"I tell him you get three RBIs, the same as I got, and I got four hits and you've got no hits," Castillo said and laughed.

Said Punto, "That's got to be the first time for me, 0-for-1 and three RBIs. That's amazing."

Morneau has been amazing lately.

Morneau, who is second in the American League with 97 RBIs, homered into the Royals' bullpen in the third inning. Punto and Joe Mauer had walked before Morneau's 29th home run.

Morneau, who has nine RBIs in the first three games of this series, has hit safely in 14 of his past 15 games with four home runs and 19 RBIs.

"We had a lot of good performances offensively," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We beat the ball around. It started again with Morneau early with a three-run homer."

In the first three games of this series, Royals pitchers have walked 34, hit three batters and had three wild pitches. The last time the Twins drew 14 walks in a game was Sept. 10, 1976, also against the Royals.

"Fourteen walks doesn't set very well for your pitching staff if you're on the other side," Gardenhire said. "We were patient enough or they didn't throw enough over, you can look at it either way you want to. (Runelvys) Hernandez early looked like he was flinging it all over the place. We wanted to make him work, and we did."

From the other side, Royals manager Buddy Bell was frustrated with the walks, which included nine walks and a hit batter in 42â3 innings by Hernandez.

"It is hard to watch," Bell said. "Runelvys' stuff is probably as good as I've seen it since I've been here as far as velocity. It doesn't matter if you can't throw your fastballs for a strike. Walks are hard for me to explain at this level."

Carlos Silva (8-9) was the benefactor of the Twins' offensive splurge. Silva is 4-0 since the All-Star break and is 6-1 in his past 10 starts. He gave up three runs and 10 hits in 61â3 innings.

"The only thing was it was a little tough with the long innings, sitting there for that long, but I don't mind," Silva said. "The first five innings my sinker was working pretty good. I feel very good with my change-up, commanding both sides of the plate. It is a big difference now with that change-up. I've been using that pitch a lot, and it is helping me a lot."

Hernandez (2-7) threw just 52 strikes in 108 pitches. In his past two starts, Hernandez has allowed 16 earned runs in 72â3 innings to balloon his earned-run average to 8.54. He joined Dick Drago and Dan Reichert as the only other Royals pitchers to walk nine batters in a game.

"I don't have nothing to say," Hernandez said.

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