Minnesota pounds KC with another 19 hits
Valencia first Twins rookie to post consecutive four-hit games
KANSAS CITY -- Having recorded back-to-back games with 19-plus hits, it seemed a virtually impossible task for the Twins to continue to deliver this type of offensive onslaught when they faced the Royals again on Tuesday night.Guess again. In what has become a ridiculous stretch of games offensively for the Twins, the club delivered 19 hits for the third consecutive contest in an 11-2 victory over the Royals at Kauffman Stadium. "We've got a lot of guys swinging good," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "You go through these cycles and right now we're in a good cycle. Everything is falling. We're rolling balls through the infield. We've also been there when those balls have been caught. So we'll take them." Tuesday night was the continuation of what has been a four-game offensive onslaught for the Twins on this road trip against some poor pitching by the Orioles and Royals. Over those four games, the Twins have tallied a total of 72 hits while scoring 47 runs. And it's been quite some time since the club has delivered an offensive showing like this. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Twins have scored at least 10 runs in three consecutive contests for the first time since July 11-13, 1967. The 40 runs are the most the club has scored in a three-game stretch since April 23-25, 1996. And the last time a team delivered at least 19 hits in three consecutive games could perhaps date back even further. "You certainly can't expect 72 hits in four games," said Twins first baseman Michael Cuddyer. "We're putting together good at-bats and even when we're not, it feels like we're just making contact and it's rolling through the hole. You can't explain it but it's nice." Minnesota has now outscored the Royals 30-3 in the first two games of their series, completing what has been the worst three-game pitching span in Royals history. That stretch began with a 12-6 loss to the Yankees, followed by a 19-1 loss to the Twins and then this 11-2 loss. The 42 runs, as well as 53 hits, are the most ever allowed by Kansas City in three games. "They're both tremendous lineups, both great offensive lineups and that's obvious the way they've been swinging the bats," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "And you make a bit of a mistake and they're going to crush it somewhere." Minnesota's sudden offensive surge has come at an unexpected time considering that they are missing some of their key hitters. Justin Morneau has been out since July 7 due to a concussion while Orlando Hudson is on the disabled list with a strained right oblique muscle. But in the meantime, other hitters have stepped up and delivered. That includes seven Twins delivering multi-hit games in the victory on Tuesday night. One night after delivering a career-high four hits, rookie third baseman Danny Valencia matched that output. Valencia went 4-for-5 with three RBI singles and a double on Tuesday night, as he became the first Twins rookie to ever deliver four hits in back-to-back games. Valencia's average has gone from .346 to .400 thanks to his last two games, in which he was 8-for-9 with a walk and seven RBIs. "He's been working really hard," Gardenhire said of Valencia. "He's been balancing his swing and you can see it. He's shooting the ball the other way, he's driving the ball and right now his legs are underneath him. He's just putting really good swings on the ball." Cuddyer, who has been filling in at first base for an injured Morneau, has also stepped things up offensively. Cuddyer went 3-for-5 with two RBIs in the win to extend his season-high hitting streak to 12 games. Over that stretch he's batting .380 with eight RBIs. "I told Gardy for the sake of the team, Morny needs to come back and DH. Just leave me at first base," Cuddyer said with a laugh. "I think it's coincidence, I guess. I don't feel any different at the plate while playing first base." "Not enough gets said about Michael Cuddyer," said Gardenhire. "He's probably our MVP right now because he's had to pick up Morny and everybody else in the infield everywhere else. He doesn't get a lot of credit but from the manager, I can tell you how much I appreciate it." Joe Mauer, who was 5-for-5 with seven RBIs Monday night, doubled and scored in his first at-bat on Tuesday and finished the night going 2-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs. Minnesota took a 2-0 lead in the first thanks to RBI singles by Cuddyer and Valencia. The Twins added two more runs in the third on another pair of RBI singles -- these two by Valencia and J.J. Hardy. And the club would take a 6-1 lead in the sixth thanks to Jason Repko's RBI single and a sacrifice fly by Mauer, as it tagged Royals left-hander Bruce Chen for a total of six runs on 11 hits over 5 1/3 innings. Carl Pavano has been the steadiest starter for the Twins so far this year, but he delivered a rare short outing on a night when the team didn't really need him to carry it like he's done so many times this season. Coming off back-to-back complete games, Pavano wasn't able to pitch past the fifth inning after telling his manager that he was gassed. It was the first time Pavano did not pitch at least six innings in a start since May 18. But he still managed to limit the damage by the Royals, allowing just one run on five hits while throwing 98 pitches, as he picked up win No. 13 on the season Kansas City wasn't able to score a run until the fifth inning when Pavano saw his 18-inning scoreless streak come to an end on a Jose Guillen sacrifice fly to center. "The guys picked me up huge today," said Pavano, who now has eight consecutive victories. "A win is a win and that was great. Everyone is having quality at-bats and there are guys stepping up. That's when teams really start playing well, when everyone contributes." They're doing it so well that even Gardenhire said it's tough to figure out just who to sit, as on Tuesday night the Twins got the hits with Jason Kubel and Jim Thome on the bench. "You can never have enough production," Gardenhire said. "You hope to have to find spots for guys. Right now, the lineup is hard to fill out because guys are playing good."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.