MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Justin Morneau has arranged to hang out with
a friend over the All-Star break. The Twins are hoping he'll have
to change his plans.
Morneau became the first Minnesota batter to reach 20 home runs
by the end of June since Kent Hrbek in 1987. That was also the last
season the Twins had someone hit 30 homers, when Hrbek, Tom
Brunansky and Gary Gaetti each surpassed that mark.
Joe Mauer, Francisco Liriano and Johan Santana have seized much
of the spotlight lately, but the team believes Morneau should
receive just as much All-Star game consideration. First base is a
crowded position, though. A .288 batting average, 20 homers and 65
RBI still might not be enough.
"It'd be nice to get in there somehow, but hopefully we can
just be more consistent next year and there won't be a question,"
Morneau said. "Do I feel like I could be there? Yeah, but at the
same time, I booked a flight to my buddy's cabin for the All-Star
break today. If that changes, it'd be great, but I'm not expecting
Terry Tiffee hit a two-run homer for the Twins, who have won 18
of their last 20 games -- including 11 straight at the Metrodome --
and improved to 14-2 in interleague play. Their 28-10 mark at home
is baseball's best, and this is their second eight-game winning
streak in the last three weeks.
"There's a lot of energy on this ballclub, a lot of things
going on, and it's fun to watch," manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Radke (7-7), whose stark turnaround has mirrored Minnesota's
this month, easily bested Brewers rookie Carlos Villanueva (0-1) by
scattering four hits without a walk while striking out four.
Radke, who had a 7.44 ERA after his first 10 starts, improved to
3-1 with a 2.22 ERA in his last seven outings. He retired 10
straight, breaking multiple bats, until Corey Koskie's double in
the fifth. Damian Miller drove him in with a single.
But for the fifth time in the last month, the Brewers failed to
move above .500.
"We get there, and then we seem to stumble," Geoff Jenkins
said. "Hopefully it's just one game and we can get it going
Villanueva allowed six hits (all for extra bases), six runs and
two walks while striking out three in five innings. Morneau and
Hunter each went deep, two pitches apart, in the second.
Making only his second major league start, Villanueva didn't
really get in trouble until the fifth when Jason Kubel doubled
ahead of Tiffee's homer.
Koskie slightly bobbled the ball, which cost him a chance to
complete the double play and allowed Punto -- perhaps the Twins'
fastest player -- to score from second and give his team a 6-1 lead.
Milwaukee manager Ned Yost was livid with first base umpire
Brian O'Nora, who coiled in preparation for calling Cuddyer out but
stopped and spread his arms wide to signal safe. Yost and O'Nora
were brim-to-brim for a few seconds, yelling and pointing, and Yost
quickly drew his fifth ejection of the year.
Villanueva twice managed to strike out the leading hitter in the
majors, Mauer, who later hit a two-run double against Rick Helling
in the seventh.
But the Brewers again struggled to find a suitable pitcher for
the back of their rotation. Chris Capuano, Dave Bush and Doug Davis
have formed a steady trio at the top, but injuries to ace Ben
Sheets and Tomo Ohka have forced them to try seven different
"It seemed like every time I kept the ball up, they
capitalized," Villanueva said. "Teams that get hot, things go
Morneau didn't perform up to expectations last year, though he
still finished with 22 homers and 79 RBI in his first full major
league season. He was still stumbling earlier this month when the
Twins finished an awful road trip in Seattle.
Unhappy with Morneau's attitude and approach, Gardenhire pulled
his first baseman in for a closed-door meeting. Since, the
25-year-old Canadian has rededicated himself to the game.
"I think he put it best: You get tired of making outs,"
Gardenhire said. "You have to try to figure out what you need to
do to get better as a player and a person."
Sheets, whose right shoulder problems have kept him out for
all but four starts, is scheduled to throw a bullpen session
Saturday. If that goes well, he'll probably pitch in a simulated
game soon after. ... Brewers rookie Chris Barnwell, playing
shortstop for Bill Hall, hit an infield single in the eighth for
his first major league RBI. ... Hall, 2-for-16 with 10 strikeouts
in his last four games, might get a rest on Saturday, too. ...
Castillo, 9-for-46 in his last 10 games, saved a run for Radke in
the second when he backhanded a slow, broken-bat roller hit by
Miller up the middle with Carlos Lee at second base. He then fired
a perfect off-balance throw to an outstretched Morneau at first.