MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Hitting is supposed to be contagious, and a
power surge has been spreading through the Minnesota Twins' lineup.
Don't count the Twins out just yet in the American League. They may not be in the hunt for the AL Central, but they can hang in the wild-card race if they continue to get wins against quality foes.
To read more of the Wednesday night Short Hops, click here.
Jason Kubel homered again and Justin Morneau hit a grand slam,
sparking the Twins to an 8-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox on
Wednesday."If one guy gets hot," Morneau said, "it always seems to get
another guy hot."Kubel, whose grand slam gave the Twins a 5-2 win in the 12th
inning the night before, hit a two-run shot in the second off Matt
Clement (5-5). Morneau's slam in the sixth was the sixth of the
season for Minnesota and the fourth in seven games. The team record
is eight, set in 1961."I'd like to see a lot more of it," said Kubel, who has four
homers since he being called up from Triple-A three weeks ago.
"I'm not trying to hit home runs. I think I can start lifting a
little more, instead of hitting groundballs all over the place. I'm
starting to feel a lot more comfortable doing that, and we'll see
what happens."This is a team that hasn't had a player hit 30 home runs since
1987, by far the longest drought in the majors. Morneau, who has 15
homers and 51 RBI, is on pace to end that streak."It's June, isn't it?" he said, smiling. "It'd be nice, but
it's not what we're here for."The Twins won for the fifth time in six games and moved into a
tie for third place in the AL Central with Cleveland, 11 games
behind Detroit, but they're still four games under .500.Brad Radke (5-7) was the beneficiary of the strong offensive
showing, allowing five hits, two walks and Coco Crisp's home run in
six innings while striking out three. He gave up less than four
runs for only the fourth time in his 14 starts.Radke survived what could have been a messy first, his Achilles'
heel of innings, by getting Trot Nixon to pop up to shortstop and
retiring Jason Varitek on a long fly to right."I think they've had better lineups in the last couple of
years, but they still have some pretty good boppers," Radke said.
"You don't want to make mistakes."The Red Sox, who lost their third straight, dropped to second in
the AL East, one game behind the Yankees. They were mostly
concerned about Clement, who is in the middle of what is so far his
worst of eight major league seasons.Manager Terry Francona said he was experiencing pain in his
right shoulder and biceps in the fifth inning, when he was pulled
with two outs. Clement is scheduled to return to Boston on Thursday
morning to be examined by the team's medical staff."Hopefully it's just fatigue," Francona said, "but we have to
find out."Clement, whose ERA actually dropped slightly to 6.61, had the
same feeling in his last start -- which was 10 days ago. He has had
three layoffs of one week or more this year."I felt good playing catch in the days before, but it's
different when you've got big league hitters in the batter's box,"
Clement said.Minnesota bailed Clement out twice. With one out and the bases
loaded in the third, all on walks, Torii Hunter hit the first pitch
he faced into a 5-4-3 double play. In the fourth, with one out and
runners at second and third, Nick Punto popped the first pitch he
saw to second base. Joe Mauer's sharp drive was picked gracefully
on one hop by second baseman Mark Loretta to end the inning.The Twins, though, were far more patient in the majority of
their plate appearances. They drew 10 walks, one intentional,
without a strikeout. Michael Cuddyer's bases-loaded walk against
Jermaine Van Buren forced in a run in the sixth, and Morneau
followed with his opposite-field drive on a fastball from Manny
Delcarmen that made it 8-1 Minnesota.An All-Star last year whose season soured after the break,
Clement has posted quality starts of six innings or more and three
runs or less in only four of 12 outings, none consecutive.Clement -- who signed a three-year, $25.5 million contract before
the 2005 season -- tied a season high with six walks. Without a
strikeout, he allowed three runs, five hits and hit a batter.That came in the fourth, when scuffling designated hitter
Rondell White was plunked in the chest. He scored on Luis
Castillo's double off the right-field wall to make it 3-0."I felt rusty the entire game," Clement said.
A couple of customers interrupted the top of the eighth
inning, running all over the field before their capture. One of the
men managed to high-five Hunter and sprint around the bases. After
a headfirst slide into home, the visiting team bat boy slammed him
to the turf with a perfect open-field tackle and pinned him down
until security arrived. "As soon as the guy rounded third, there
weren't any guards around, so I thought I'd hit him," said Nate
Reese, 25, who received plenty of praise afterward in both