Grand slam No. 1 helps Twins avert loss No. 100

The Twins' run to 100 losses was halted for one night.

Anthony Swarzak pitched into the seventh inning and Rene Tosoni crushed a grand slam in the sixth Tuesday night as the Twins eased to a 7-4 victory over Kansas City. The Twins, at 62-99, can avoid losing 100 games for the second time in club history if they can beat Bruce Chen and the Royals on Wednesday in the curtain-closer.

"We don't want to lose a hundred," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Maybe there's a guy out there who wants to, I don't know. Maybe go find someone who will say, 'Yeah, I want to lose 100, that would be really fun.'

"Not me. We want to win. We want to win tomorrow and stay away from that stuff. [But] 99 is not too far away, though."

The announced crowd of 34,228 roared when Tosoni hit a first-pitch grand slam -- the first of his career -- off Royals reliever Vin Mazzaro in the sixth. Singles by Danny Valencia, Chris Parmelee and Trevor Plouffe loaded the bases for Tosoni, who has hit two home runs in the past three games.

It was the first grand slam hit by a Twin at Target Field and second this season.

"If you make some mistakes over the plate he has shown he can put a swing on the ball," Gardenhire said.

Swarzak, who improved to 4-7 as he held Kansas City to two runs over 6 2/3 innings, jumped off the bench and pumped a fist as the ball sailed into the seats.

"As a pitcher," he said, "that tells me I can relax and attack guys."

Blackburn surgery set

Nick Blackburn will have surgery Friday to relieve pressure on a nerve in his right forearm muscle. The estimated recovery time is six to eight weeks.

Last October, Blackburn had arthroscopic surgery to remove loose particles from his right elbow. The rehab from this procedure will be a little more intensive, he said, since Dr. Thomas Varecka will be cutting into his forearm muscle. Still, Blackburn expects to be back at full strength by spring training.

"I'll be ready for my throwing program [this winter], at the right time," Blackburn said.

Kubel heading to clinic

Twins outfielder Jason Kubel was asked before Tuesday's game if there was any chance he would bat in the last two games of the season. "No," he quickly said.

Then he mentioned that, on Tuesday, he's headed to the renowned Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles to have his troublesome left foot examined.

Kubel said he expects to have another MRI exam on the foot but remains confident that nothing serious is wrong. Kubel injured the foot on May 30 in Detroit when he attempted to make a leaping catch in right field and landed on the disabled list for 47 games because of a sprain.

Kubel is concerned over the lingering pain though, and has followed the case of Angels first baseman Mark Trumbo, who played for a 1 1/2 months with pain in the similar area of the foot before recently being diagnosed with a stress fracture.

Twins add pitcher

The transactions don't stop in late September. The Twins have claimed righthander Esmerling Vasquez off waivers from the Arizona Diamondbacks. It's a chance for the Twins to add a hard thrower, even if he needs to refine his control. Vasquez, 27, was 1-1, 4.15 in 31 games with the Diamondbacks with 13 walks and 20 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings. Over the past three seasons, Vasquez is 5-10, 4.66 in 141 games with the D-Backs.

"We actually faced him," Gardenhire said. "A big tall guy. Throws with good velocity.''

According to www.fangraphs. com, Vasquez's fastball has averaged 93.7 miles per hour. He joins Jim Hoey and Lester Oliveros as righthanders who have velocity but need better command.


Danny Valencia batted third in the order for the first time in his career.

Chris Parmelee homered in the second inning. He has four homers in 20 games -- but is tied for fifth on the team.

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