Renewing old acquaintances comes at a cost

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 9, 2007 - 12:07 AM

The Twins got back together with Cristian Guzman and Jason Simontacchi, and each made it an unpleasant reunion.

There were reunions all around when the Twins played the Washington Nationals on Friday night in the Metrodome. The one that had the least impact on the result was the return of Joe Mauer, this time as the Twins' No. 2 hitter.

Mauer went 1-for-5, with a line drive that was played from a single into a triple by left fielder Ryan Church. Mauer also ended the game with a rocket to first and hit a couple of other balls hard for outs.

So, the swing was good after a 29-game absence, and so was the left quadriceps, but there was nothing Mauer could offer to reverse the whipping the Twins were going to take in this game.

Carlos Silva, offering a flashback to both the summer of '06 and March of '07, was hammered for nine hits and seven runs in three-plus innings by the Nationals.

There was no bad luck involved -- simply one rocket after another -- until the Nationals had built an 8-0 lead against Silva and then Ramon Ortiz, now the Twins' official mopcatcher.

That was the score after six innings, at which point Cristian Guzman had more hits (three) than did the Twins (two) against Washington starter Jason Simontacchi.

Guzman is the Nats' obvious connection to the Twins, since he played here for six seasons (1999-2004) and was a hero to the Dome denizens for at least half of that time.

On Friday, he went 4-for-5 and raised his batting average to .339.

Washington reporters had been asking Guzman about this homecoming, and he had downplayed any special significance. That was his public view again after Friday's 8-5 victory.

"Everywhere I go I want to play well," Guzman said. "It's not just in Minnesota."

Yes, but you spent six years and know a lot of folks?

"I'm happy to be in Minnesota," Guzman said. "It wasn't just players I talked to today. It was the manager, the general manager, people in the office."

The pitchers responsible for all 27 outs also brought a Twins' connection:

Simontacchi pitched for the Twins' Class AAA team in Edmonton in 2001. On Friday, he went 72/3 innings for the longest of his seven starts with the Nationals.

Reliever Billy Traber couldn't get the third out in the eighth, so Saul Rivera came in to get that out and then three more in the ninth. Rivera pitched in the Twins' organization from 1998 through 2001, before being claimed on waivers by the New York Mets.

Rivera finally surfaced in the major leagues with the Nationals last season at 28. That also was Simontacchi's age when he debuted with St. Louis in 2002.

Out of nowhere, he went 11-5 with a 4.02 ERA and finished third in the National League's Rookie of the Year voting. That was the stunning highlight of an otherwise vagabond career.

Simontacchi was the pitching sensation of Rimini, Italy, in the summer of 2000.

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