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From left, the Minnesota Twins' Justin Morneau, left, Denard Span (2) and Delmon Young (21) greet each other at the end of their baseball game against the Oakland Athletics in Oakland, Calif., Thursday, May 19, 2011. Minnesota won the game 11-1.

Eric Risberg, Associated Press

TWINS 11, OAKLAND 1

Up next: Three-game series at Arizona • Game 1: 8:40 tonight • TV: FSN (1500ESPN)

Adding up -- and coming up threes: Twins rip Oakland

  • Article by: LA VELLE E. NEAL III
  • Star Tribune
  • May 20, 2011 - 1:54 PM

OAKLAND, CALIF. - The Twins on Thursday scored in the first inning for the third consecutive game.

They hit three home runs in a game for the first time all season.

And they will bring a three-game winning streak into Friday's series opener in Phoenix against the Diamondbacks.

"You really can't make it up,'' Twins President Dave St. Peter said.

The Twins headed to Arizona on Thursday night as relaxed as they've been all year. And their offense Thursday afternoon looked as potent as it has all year during an 11-1 rout of the Athletics. Why now?

"I definitely think he is looking down on us,'' Twins outfielder Michael Cuddyer said. "I have no question about that.''

"A lot of stars aligned up for us right now,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire added.

The Twins wondered about three-plicity as they prepare to attend the funeral on Friday for the greatest No. 3 in Twins history, Harmon Killebrew.

"If he's up there helping us,'' Cuddyer said, "I'm glad.''

They are preparing for a weekend series against the Diamondbacks in Phoenix -- near Killebrew's home in Scottsdale. So coaches and players will be out in force on Friday for the noon service. It's a sad event, but what a coincidence that the Twins are scheduled to be there.

Team officials are flying in from the Twin Cities. Hall of Famers Frank Robinson and Robin Yount will join Twins Hall of Famers Bert Blyleven, Rod Carew, Paul Molitor and other Twins greats.

Carew, Molitor, Gardenhire, Cuddyer, Tony Oliva, Frank Quilici, Justin Morneau and Joe Nathan will be pallbearers. The Twins players were humbled by their inclusion in the program.

"It's just an honor to be asked,'' Morneau said. "They asked me if I wanted to do it. I said, 'Of course.' It's hard to put into words. He was just an amazing person. I'd do anything they asked."

Cuddyer, who developed a good relationship with Killebrew through the years, said he was shocked when he was asked to be a pallbearer.

"Definitely the biggest honor of my life,'' he said.

Killebrew died Tuesday morning after a five-month battle with esophageal cancer. The Twins went out that night and had three hits, gave up three hits and won 2-1 -- the combined score, of course, being three.

That victory ended a nine-game losing streak.

"Nine games in a row we had lost, and we lost every game on the homestand,'' Cuddyer said. "It was weighing on us. It was tough. Harmon passes away, and that weighs on you as well. To be able to smile after that game was nice.''

Their 11 runs and 16 hits on Thursday are season highs, as every Twins starter reached base. Righthander Nick Blackburn, 3-4, has a 1.63 ERA in his past four starts.

As great as they felt following Thursday's game, they all know Friday is going to be a tough day as they remember Killebrew.

It will be especially tough on Gardenhire, who developed a great friendship with Killebrew through the years and got a thrill out of seeing him in uniform during spring training.

"It's going to be a real hard morning for all of us,'' Gardenhire said, "and hopefully we'll be able to get to the ballpark and go about our business. But it will be a real hard morning for us, saying goodbye."

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