Bullpen, batters combine in sweep

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 6, 2006 - 10:20 PM

As the temperature soared Sunday in Kansas City, relief pitchers jumped into action -- and the lineup kept connecting.

Jason Bartlett had five of the Twins' 22 hits Sunday.A SERIES OF NUMBERS

The Twins' sweep of Kansas City was chock-full of numbers:

4

Games swept by the Twins in the series -- a first for Minnesota in Kansas City.

22

Minnesota hits Sunday -- the most in a game this season.

9

Combined hits for No. 8 and No. 9 hitters Jason Tyner and Jason Bartlett on Sunday.

36

Walks issued by Kansas City pitchers to Twins in the series.

WILD CARD

Chicago --

Twins ½

Boston ½

KANSAS CITY, MO. - As the temperature climbed to 105 degrees Sunday at Kauffman Stadium, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire had one basic concern about his red-hot offense: overheating.

Gardenhire hated watching his hitters wilt in the sun while minor-league journeyman Mike Smith exhausted 80 pitches through the first three innings against the Royals.

So the manager turned things over to his ever-efficient bullpen, and the Big Road Machine kept rolling for an 11-5 victory that gave the Twins their first four-game sweep at Kansas City in club history.

Minnesota matched a franchise record with its eighth consecutive road victory and pulled within a half-game of the White Sox for the American League wild-card lead.

"The first three innings, for both sides, felt like watching paint dry, and that's not the way we like to play baseball," Gardenhire said after his team moved a season-high 20 games over .500 at 65-45. "We expect you to attack the hitters. If they hit you, they hit you, but we're not going to sit there and watch ball one, ball two, ball three."

Asked if the 28-year-old Smith would get another start, Gardenhire said, "I haven't even gotten there yet. We'll see where we're at when we get to Detroit."

The Twins begin a three-game series with the first-place Tigers tonight, and all signs point toward another roster move, with Smith going back to Class AAA Rochester and top prospect Matt Garza coming up to face Toronto on Friday.

Smith, who hadn't pitched in the majors since 2002, fell behind 4-1 in the third inning.

"It was really hot out there," he said. "Just the excitement of being back in the majors, maybe it got the best of me."

The Twins trimmed Kansas City's lead to 4-3 in the fourth, and Gardenhire gave Smith the hook.

Matt Guerrier, Dennys Reyes, Juan Rincon and Willie Eyre combined to give up one run the rest of the way, with Reyes (4-0) pitching two innings for the victory.

Michael Cuddyer hit a two-run homer off Royals starter Odalis Perez in the fifth inning.

Torii Hunter broke a 5-5 tie with a run-scoring single in the seventh off Todd Wellemeyer (0-2), and the Twins added five runs in the eighth, forcing the Royals to stand in the sweltering sun.

By the end, the Twins had a season-high 22 hits, with Jason Bartlett getting five and Jason Tyner adding four.

"Nine hits out of your bottom two guys [in the lineup]," Gardenhire said. "That's unbelievable."

That word summed up the whole series, as the Twins had 97 runners reach base via hits (56), walks (36) and being hit by pitch (5). Kansas City also committed four errors.

The Royals fell to 38-73, but they had gone 22-22 in 44 games before the Twins reached town.

"The fact is, the Twins played as good as you possibly can, and we didn't play well," Royals manager Buddy Bell said. "It's as simple as that."

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