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Byrd latest to baffle lifeless Twins

  • Article by: Joe Christensen
  • Star Tribune
  • August 10, 2007 - 11:53 AM

Cleveland pitcher Paul Byrd has an old-school windup, but it's not every team that can make his games look like a tribute to the dead-ball era.

Leave that to the Twins, who have scored the fewest runs of any team in the majors since the All-Star break.

Remember that nice surge up the standings they'd been enjoying?

It all looked like such a mirage Monday night, as their lineup got completely exposed by Byrd in a 4-0 loss at the Metrodome.

Byrd (10-4) tossed a four-hitter for his fifth career shutout and first since July 1, 2005.

"Our offense didn't give us much of a chance, and that's something we've got to fix around here," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, whose team has been blanked a major league-high 10 times this season. "We can't keep scoring one run or zero runs and expect to stay in the race."

An announced crowd of 28,314 could be heard booing at times as the Twins settled for a split of the four-game series and fell 5½ games behind the first-place Indians.

Carlos Silva (9-12) gave the Twins another strong start, giving up two runs in seven innings.

Casey Blake hit a two-out, run-scoring single in the fourth, and Travis Hafner hit his 18th home run leading off the seventh. Cleveland added two insurance runs in the eighth, as Twins reliever Dennys Reyes filled the bases, leaving Pat Neshek to clean up the mess.

The Twins have been shut out in six of Silva's 23 starts.

"It's very tough," he said. "I don't really like my record right now, but there's nothing I can do. The only thing I can do is give is give my team a chance. Last year I always complained about that. Nobody in here -- my teammates, my coaches -- they don't like that, but that was a learning process for me."

Silva isn't the only starter on the team suffering. The Twins have scored 71 runs since the All-Star break. Pittsburgh has the next-fewest runs since the break, with 85.

"Our pitchers are throwing the ball good, and that gives you confidence," Gardenhire said. "But they can't do it by themselves. Our offense has to get going, or we're going to have a lot of trouble."

Byrd uses a two-arm, windmill motion and unleashes pitches that could barely break glass. He throws 86-mile-per-hour fastballs, but everything he throws seems to move.

The middle of the Twins' order -- Michael Cuddyer, Justin Morneau and Torii Hunter -- combined to go 1-for-10, making that trio 1-for-22 in their past two games.

When Nick Punto hit a two-out single in the eighth inning, that ended his 0-for-19 stretch.

"I don't think we're struggling; I think we're just running into good pitching," Hunter said.

That includes the 36-year-old Byrd, who finished with one strikeout and one walk.

"He's not a bad pitcher," Hunter said. "You look at his stuff, you think he would be, but he's actually pretty good. He's smart."

Joe Christensen •

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