He grew more incredulous by the second as the list was read to
him -- 10 wins in a row, 18 of 19, 20 of 22.
Since June 11, the Twins are an other-worldly 18-1. One of the biggest reasons behind Minnesota's recent surge has been the performance of 22-year-old rookie pitcher Francisco Liriano. This is how Liriano has done over his last five starts:
To read more about Liriano's recent surge, check out Elias Says.
"What! I don't ..." Hunter stammered. "I didn't even think
about that. We're playing great ball."
Liriano (9-1) allowed just three hits and won his fifth straight
start for the streaking Twins, who have won 13 in a row at the
Metrodome to improve to a major league-best 30-10 at home.
The Twins' surge has coincided with the 22-year-old Liriano's
insertion into the starting rotation back on May 19. He faced the
Brewers at Miller Park in his debut, and he's only gotten better
since giving up one run and two hits in five innings to win that
"I don't know how many different ways you can describe the way
he's throwing the baseball," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It's
pretty nasty. He dominated the game."
Rookie Zach Jackson (1-1) gave up eight runs -- seven earned --
and walked three in five innings for Milwaukee. He wasn't hit all
that hard on Sunday, but an error and two walks in the third got
the Twins rolling toward the three-game sweep.
"That's not my game," Jackson said. "I'm not a big walk guy.
I need to have control and I wasn't able to do that today."
After Michael Cuddyer's RBI single gave the Twins a 1-0 lead in
the first, Minnesota broke the game open with an opportunistic
Morneau came up with the bases loaded and one out and hit a high
chopper toward Rickie Weeks at second. But the ball handcuffed
Weeks and scooted past him for an error, allowing Luis Castillo and
Mike Redmond to score to start the rally.
Jackson also walked two in the inning, then Shannon Stewart
blooped a double to shallow right field that scored two more runs
to make it 6-0.
Morneau's solo homer in the fifth -- his 21st of the season --
rattled a suite in right field, and Jason Kubel added an RBI single
to make it 8-0.
"I don't care how hot a team is, I have to give my team a
chance to win," Jackson said. "I didn't do that today."
Liriano got off to a rough start, hitting Weeks to start the
game and giving up a single to Jeff Cirillo. He then stumbled
during his delivery to No. 3 hitter Corey Hart, and the balk
allowed Weeks and Cirillo to each move up a base.
Liriano walked around the mound gingerly after the stumble and
was examined by Twins trainers.
"I don't even know what happened," Liriano said. "I tried to
use the slide step and just slipped."
Once he regained his footing, it was all over for the Brewers.
The Brewers managed just two hits the rest of the way as the
Twins continued their remarkable run.
The dominating June led to a clean sweep of the AL monthly
awards for the Twins. Joe Mauer was named player of the month,
Johan Santana pitcher of the month and Liriano was named the top
rookie, the first time in the five-year history of the trifecta
that all three players came from one team.
"That's never been done before," Hunter said. "That's pretty
impressive. It lets everybody know that we're playing good
Cirillo's single in the sixth was his 1,500th career hit.
He had two hits. ... Mauer, the majors' leading hitter, got the day
off. He fouled a pitch off his toe in Saturday night's win and also
was suffering from a bout of the flu. ... The announced crowd of
35,466 pushed the Twins' attendance over the 1 million mark, the
fastest the team has reached that mark since 1992.