MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Asked if he had any special words of encouragement for Justin Morneau before Saturday's game against Kansas City, Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire got right to the point.
"I told him to hit a home run," he deadpanned. "I say that every day, though."Morneau capped an otherwise quiet opening week by hitting his first homer of the season and driving in four runs, and the Twins had their best offensive output of the young season in a 6-4 victory over the Royals.Morneau had been 1-for-17 heading into his second at-bat of the day, a microcosm of the team's struggles at the plate. But he launched the offering from Gil Meche to right-center to put Minnesota up 3-2, perhaps giving the Twins the breakthrough they needed.Not that Gardenhire was worried."We've got a great hitter, a guy that's been an MVP, and he's going to hit," the manager said. "Just a matter of time."Morneau, who recorded his 400th career RBI, raised his batting average to .150."Ignore the average for now," he said. "The power numbers and all of that stuff won't go away. Average is going to go up and down all year, but at the end of the year it will be where it's supposed to be."Livan Hernandez won his second straight start, pitching seven solid innings as the Twins won their second consecutive game against the Royals, who started the season with a three-game sweep of Detroit. Hernandez allowed four runs and seven hits, didn't walk a batter and struck out two.It's been an impressive start to Hernandez's American League career. The 12-year veteran has lasted seven innings in each of his outings with the Twins, averaging 79 pitches, and hasn't walked a batter. He gave up only two runs in Minnesota's season-opening win over the Angels."You could see the big, slow curveball," Gardenhire said. "He's got a good changeup and he locates very well. He's a pleasure to watch. He's fun to watch."Matt Guerrier worked a scoreless eighth for Minnesota, and Joe Nathan the ninth to record his third save.Kansas City led 2-0 and Meche (0-1) was off to a strong start before giving up the three-run homer to Morneau in the fourth inning."The first three innings couldn't have been any better for me," Meche said. "Stuff-wise it was there. ... Then all of a sudden I just started making mistakes, falling behind, probably trying to do too much when I didn't have to."Two innings later, Meche was in trouble again.Matt Tolbert led off with a single after Alberto Callaspo nearly made a great grab at short. Two doubles and single later, Minnesota led 6-2 and the Royals pulled Meche for Ron Mahay.Meche gave up six runs and six hits, striking out five. He's 1-3 against the Twins since 2005."I stuck with him a little too long and I shouldn't have put him or us in that situation," Royals manager Trey Hillman said. "I was pleased overall with his performance, but that one inning specifically he got out of sync."Kansas City pulled to 6-4 in the seventh when Miguel Olivo doubled to score Jose Guillen and Alex Gordon. Olivo played his first game after serving a four-game suspension for a fight with the New York Mets during the final weekend of last season while he was with the Florida Marlins.
Gardenhire said OF Michael Cuddyer, who was placed on the 15-day DL Friday night with a dislocated and lacerated right index finger, could begin swinging in about 10 days. ... Royals RHP Yasuhiko Yabuta made his major league debut, allowing one hit in one inning. ... Twins DH Craig Monroe snapped an 0-for-10 drought with a sixth inning RBI double, his first hit of the season. ... Twins starter Francisco Liriano's wife gave birth to a son, Kevin, in Miami. ... The Royals lost their second-straight series to Minnesota and sixth in the last eight meetings dating back to last season.