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Twins stage power show


Twins stage power show
The Twins' pregame meeting Friday was routine, didn't last long and the message, Brendan Harris said, wasn't groundbreaking.

"We just wanted to come out and play with a little more energy," he said. "We were just talking about stringing some hits together and playing small ball."

If small ball was the edict, the Twins failed miserably at applying it. After a five-game home-run drought (208 plate appearances without a fence-clearer), Minnesota launched a four-homer assault on the Seattle Mariners in an 11-0 rout Friday night in front of 29,714 in the Metrodome.

Two homers, the first coming from Harris, were three-run shots; the other two were back-to-back; and three were in the fifth inning.

Joe Mauer hit the second home run of his seven-game season in the fifth, and Justin Morneau followed with his seventh of the year. After a walk and a single, Brian Buscher tagged another three-run shot, marking the Twins' first three-homer inning since 2002 when Jacque Jones, Cristian Guzman and David Ortiz went deep in an August game against the White Sox.

The three long balls in the fifth were dramatic, no doubt, but Harris' three-run homer in the second made the biggest impact. Replacing Nick Punto at shortstop in the starting lineup, Harris came to the plate with one out, two on and Minnesota leading 2-0. He pushed the count to 3-1, then muscled a 91-mph fastball to right field, where it barely cleared the baggie.

"I actually was surprised when it went out. I didn't think it had enough height," said Harris, who is batting .321 in 56 at-bats this season. "I came out trucking pretty good because I had Ichiro (Suzuki) out there. I didn't want to get thrown out by 20 feet at second."

Harris' home run put Minnesota up 5-0 in the second inning, a lead that offered relaxation for starting pitcher Scott Baker, but for the first time this season the right-hander hardly needed it.

Baker, 0-4 with a 9.15 earned-run average entering Friday's game, was working to re-establish himself. One start after letting six no-hit innings crumble into his fourth loss in as many starts, Baker finally appeared to be the steady ace of 2008.

For seven shutout innings he exploited an icy Mariners lineup that has mustered just four runs in its past four games. After giving up a one-out single in the first, Baker retired 14 of the next 15 batters he faced, dispatching the side in order in the third, fourth and fifth innings.

His only trouble came in the sixth, when he gave up two singles to start the inning. With Minnesota leading 10-0 at that point, Baker wriggled free from the jam with ease. What was the most impressive thing about Baker, who struck out five, walked none, got his first win of the year and whittled his ERA to 6.83?

"Zero," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "That's always really, really good, when a pitcher throws zeros up there."

The win, peppered with stout Twins defense, snapped Minnesota's three-game losing streak and extended Seattle's to a season-high five straight losses. Of Minnesota's 13 hits, six were for extra bases (one Jason Kubel double came inches from creeping over the center-field wall). All nine Twins starters had at least one hit, and for the first time since 2007, not one Twin struck out.

"It seems like maybe we just needed to get home," Baker said, "to get headed in the right direction."


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 10, 2009

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