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Izturis' slam takes life out of Twins in blowout

  • Article by: Joe Christensen
  • Star Tribune
  • August 11, 2007 - 11:33 PM

ANAHEIM, CALIF. — The Twins watched a second baseman crush their spirits with a home run into the right field seats at Angel Stadium on Friday night.

They'd seen it all before, of course.

Remember when Adam Kennedy hit those three home runs in Game 5 of the 2002 American League Championship Series? That ended the Twins' season.

This time, second baseman Maicer Izturis hit his first career grand slam, just when the Twins were starting to feel good about themselves again, and the Angels rolled to a 10-1 victory.

Izturis' grand slam off Scott Baker (6-5) stretched the Angels' lead to 6-1 in the sixth inning.

Only moments earlier, Rondell White had delivered a two-out, run-scoring single against Kelvim Escobar (12-6) to trim the Angels' lead to 2-1.

White's first run-scoring hit since April 4 broke a 15-inning scoreless streak for the Twins, and the next batter, Nick Punto, walked to load the bases.

But Escobar struck out Alexi Casilla to escape that jam without further damage.

Then Izturis, who had just three home runs in 193 previous at-bats this season, delivered the knockout punch.

"That's probably the last guy you'd think is going to do that to you," Baker said.

With their fourth loss in five games, the Twins missed another chance to gain ground on most of the teams they're chasing in the AL race. Detroit, Cleveland and Seattle each lost, so the Twins remained six games back in the wild-card race and 6½ back in their division.

Take away Wednesday's 11-4 victory at Kansas City, and the Twins' recent run totals look like a computer's binary numeric system — all ones and zeros. Their run totals in their past six games have been 1, 0, 1, 11, 0, 1.

White's hit off Escobar gave them a fleeting moment of happiness. White also hadn't played left field since April 4, but manager Ron Gardenhire put him there, hoping it might awaken his bat, which might in turn awaken the whole team.

"Him putting a good swing on the ball was huge," Gardenhire said. "I wish we could've come up with another one that inning."

When the Angels scored two runs to break a scoreless tie in the third, they successfully tested White's arm.

With runners on first and second, Orlando Cabrera singled.

Reggie Willits scored from second base, and Chone Figgins sped around second base toward third. White charged the ball and made a ragged, one-hop throw to third. Figgins slid in ahead of the tag.

When Vladimir Guerrero followed by grounding into a double play, Figgins scored from third.

Baker unraveled quickly in the sixth.

After retiring Guerrero, he gave up singles to Garret Anderson and Gary Matthews Jr., then walked Casey Kotchman to load the bases for Izturis.

With an 0-1 count, Baker threw a letter-high fastball, and Izturis smashed it into those right field seats, where Twins dreams always seem to die.

Joe Christensen •

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