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Twins: A bit down but not out

  • Article by: La Velle E. Neal III
  • Star Tribune
  • August 1, 2007 - 12:05 AM

The events of the past couple of days haven't made a lot of sense to many Twins players.

They knew General Manager Terry Ryan was searching for a hitter before Tuesday's non-waiver trade deadline. Instead, he dealt one of their leading hitters for prospects. Bizarre logic, several said.

How's this for strange thinking: What if the Twins make it to the playoffs anyway?

"That," outfielder Torii Hunter said, "would be something."

The Twins are trying to move on, and they began by defeating Kansas City 5-3 at the Metrodome for their fourth consecutive victory. With the victory and Cleveland's loss to Texas, the Twins are five games out in the AL wild-card race.

With leadoff hitter Luis Castillo traded to the Mets on Monday, the Twins might have to scramble the top of their order the rest of the season. And Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has heard his players complain about how Ryan navigated the final hours before the deadline and how they lost the popular, yet hobbled, Castillo.

Gardenhire has spent some time staring at the walls of his office, too. But he says it's time to pound out any frustration on opponents.

"I'm going to manage just like I'm doing right now," he said, "and you can either walk off the field and say, 'I don't want to play anymore,' and take my ball home, or you can go out there and play baseball.

"That's all I know how to do is take the baseball and keep playing baseball games."

Hunter homered during a four-run second inning and had a potential second homer stolen by Royals center fielder David DeJesus in the third. But a lot of Twins contributed.

Righthander Carlos Silva gave up two runs over eight innings to pick up his ninth victory. Catcher Mike Redmond threw out three would-be base stealers. Shortstop Jason Bartlett was at his slick-fielding best. Joe Nathan gave up a homer in the ninth but picked up his 24th save.

"Guys have turned up the energy level a little bit," Redmond said. "We have reached a point in the season where we have to win ballgames, and we're getting it going."

Hunter said players can be sad about losing Castillo, but not feel sorry about themselves.

"We have to use what we have," he said.

Hunter led off the second inning with his 22nd home run, a shot to left field off Kansas City lefthander Jorge De La Rosa (8-11). Lew Ford followed with a run-scoring single that scored Jeff Cirillo. Second baseman Alexi Casilla, who was called up from Class AAA Rochester to replace Castillo, lined a single off the glove of Royals shortstop Tony Pena Jr., allowing Ford to score. Bartlett doubled to left to score Casilla.

The Twins led 4-0. It was the first four-run lead the Twins had in 15 games. It allowed Silva, who got up at 9 a.m. to monitor trade developments, to relax and pitch his game.

Silva gave up solo homers to Jason LaRue in the third and Jason Smith in the eighth. Silva (9-11) got the next three outs to finish the eighth and received a standing ovation from the announced crowd of 22,890.

Even Silva knows it's time to stop worrying about who is getting help.

"We don't need players," Silva said. "We need that attitude on the field."

La Velle E. Neal III • lneal@startribune.com

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