Hunter had a homer and four RBI in his return from the disabled
list and Silva pitched seven strong innings to lead the Twins to a
15-2 victory over the Texas Rangers on Monday night.Josh Rabe had a homer and three RBI and Nick Punto had four
hits, four runs and three RBI to back Silva (7-9), who gave up one
run and six hits and struck out four.It was the kind of performance the Twins are going to need a lot
more of from Silva if they are going to contend for the postseason.
Johan Santana and Francisco Liriano are aces at the top of the
rotation, but Brad Radke's shoulder is ailing and Silva and Scott Baker have struggled for most of this season."He's the key," Hunter said of Silva. "We know what Liriano
can do, we know what Santana can do. ... We need him."Silva was there Monday night, helping to hand the Rangers their
seventh loss in eight games. The slide dropped them into last place
in the AL West and has prompted general manager Jon Daniels to do
some wheeling and dealing at the non-waiver trading deadline.Daniels acquired All-Star left fielder Carlos Lee from Milwaukee
last week, then got Pittsburgh starter Kip Wells and Kansas City's
Matt Stairs for a couple of minor leaguers on Monday.The Twins jumped all over John Rheinecker (4-5) in the first,
getting a little help from the Metrodome in a five-run inning.Lee lost a bloop by Joe Mauer in the lights and Justin Morneau's
lazy pop fly dropped among Lee, center fielder Gary Matthews Jr.
and shortstop Michael Young for an RBI.Michael Cuddyer also had an RBI single before Rabe capped the
big inning with a three-run homer to left for a 5-0 lead.Morneau and Punto each had run-scoring singles in the second to
push the lead to 7-0, chasing Rheinecker after 1 2/3 innings.
Hunter, who spent the last 15 days on the disabled list with a
stress fracture in his foot, followed with an RBI single off
Joaquin Benoit for the Twins' 10th hit of the game and an 8-0 lead
after two."It kind of snowballed on him," Rangers manager Buck Showalter
said. "We didn't play that well defensively and probably should've
gotten out of those first couple innings with only one or two runs.
It's a place that things like that seem to happen."Rheinecker gave up eight runs and nine hits in the shortest
outing of what is shaping up as a rough rookie season. He has gone
0-3 in his last five starts and hasn't lasted longer than 4 1/3
innings in his last four.Showalter hinted that Rheinecker could be removed from the
rotation with Wells' arrival."It's real frustrating, especially when you're trying to help
the ball club win every time out," Rheinecker said. "We're in
contention for this thing."It was a game in which everything went right for the Twins.With two outs in the fourth, first base umpire Jim Wolf ruled
that Hunter did not go around when he checked his swing with two
strikes, though replays showed he might have.Hunter hit the next pitch into the seats in left for a three-run
homer and an 11-0 lead."It felt good," Hunter said, sitting on a couch with his left
foot in a bucket of ice. "Every player wants to do something the
first day you get back."Hunter had three of the Twins' 18 hits, one shy of their season
high.With offense like this, who needs Alfonso Soriano?GM Terry Ryan was in talks with Washington GM Jim Bowden about
bringing the All-Star outfielder to Minnesota, but a deal never
materialized.Silva gave up a solo homer to Mark Teixeira in the seventh, but
received a standing ovation when he left after the inning. Willie Eyre pitched the last two innings.Of course, it helps when you pitch with a big lead, something
Silva knows a little about this season. The Twins have scored 36
runs in his last three starts, and the Twins put 15 on the board
when he took the mound against Texas on May 9"Today's game, everyone was talking about Soriano, Soriano, but
it doesn't look like we needed Soriano," Silva said. "It's good.
It makes it easy for us when you've got a five-run lead. You go out
there relaxed a little more."
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire had to leave before the game
to receive IV fluids to treat a cold. ... When Lee caught an easy
fly ball by Luis Castillo to end the third, the crowd gave him an
extended Bronx cheer. So much for "Minnesota Nice." ... Texas
rookie Nelson Cruz hit his first career homer in the ninth.