Twins' sweep is step in right direction

  • Article by: LA VELLE E. NEAL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 31, 2012 - 6:41 AM

Twins outfielder Ben Revere (sliding)

Photo: Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune

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On Monday, Matt Capps bounced back from a blown save the day before.

On Tuesday, Josh Willingham ended a power drought with a walk-off home run.

On Wednesday, Francisco Liriano won a game for the first time since last August.

The Twins beat Oakland 4-0 on Wednesday -- with Willingham adding another home run -- and swept the three-game series.

"Nice finish to the series here," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

It was the Twins' second shutout of the season and first three-game sweep since last June 17-19 against San Diego.

The Twins scored twice in the first on RBI singles by Willingham and Brian Dozier. Willingham added a two-run homer in the fourth.

It allows the Twins to begin a six-game road trip with some momentum, something they haven't had in a while. Carl Pavano will start on Friday against the Indians with P.J. Walters and Scott Diamond to follow. Walters and Diamond have been the Twins' most reliable starters since being called up from Class AAA Rochester earlier this month.

"You have to stay positive and keep going and keep going out there and playing," Willingham said.

Revere works on bunts

Outfielder Ben Revere moved Denard Span from second to third in the first inning with a sacrifice bunt Wednesday. It's a step in the right direction for Revere, who somehow got through the minors without honing his bunting skills.

He's trying to address that now, with mixed results.

He's been out early this week working on his bunting. On Tuesday, he got lucky with a bunt that popped over the pitcher's mound for a hit in the seventh. In the ninth, he tried to bunt a pitch that was up and in and popped it up for an out.

"He cares," Gardenhire said. "I know that. He's very upset about it and will work on it."

Revere is batting .311 in 11 games since being recalled from Class AAA Rochester. Think about what his batting average could be if he added 10-12 bunt hits a year.

"It opens up a lot of avenues for him," Gardenhire said. "He's got to continue to do that."

Blackburn update

Gardenhire said Nick Blackburn was "rusty" on Tuesday during a rehab start at Class AAA Rochester. In 3 2/3 innings, Blackburn gave up four runs on four hits and three walks while striking out two.

"Started off good," Gardenhire said. "Fastball was good. As it went along, he kind of a struggled with his command. Healthwise he was good, which is the biggest part of the whole deal.

"You're hoping he'd have a little better outing, but that's the first time throwing."

Blackburn will start for Rochester again Sunday. After that, the Twins are expected to decide whether they want to activate him.

Blackburn is on the disabled list because of a strained left quadriceps.


• Dozier ended an 0-for-14 skid with an RBI single in the first inning. He has 13 RBI in his first 23 games, a record for a shortstop starting a Twins career.

• Willingham has 10 homers in 47 games. Last season, the Twins didn't get their 10th homer by a player until the 62nd game, when Michael Cuddyer went deep against the White Sox.

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