05/21/09 7:08 PM ET
Twins put up 20-spot against White Sox
Lineup tweaks pay off; Mauer hits grand slam, drives in six
By David Just / Special to MLB.com
After a 20-1 victory over the White Sox to close out their seven-game road trip, the Twins will return home with all the momentum they could need. And then some.
If only Minnesota had spread out its 20-run offense over the previous six games, a 1-6 trip could just as well have been 7-0.
"Things went our way today," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, understating the offensive clinic his club had just finished putting on in front of 23,048 on the South Side. "Things haven't been going our way, and sometimes you have to make them go your way. Today, I thought we pushed the issue and put some good swings on the ball."
It marked the 13th time in franchise history that the Twins scored 20 or more runs in a game. The last time was also against the White Sox back on July 6, 2007, in the first game of a doubleheader.
Gardenhire looked like the smartest man in the room after shaking up the lineup Thursday to see if the offense would click. Joe Mauer, batting in the No. 2 hole, went 3-for-4 with two doubles and a grand slam. He extended his hitting streak to 14 games and his six RBIs set a new career high.
Jose Morales, making a rare start at catcher, went 3-for-4 with two walks and three runs scored.
The Twins (19-23) scored at least one run in six of the game's nine innings, including a seven-run second, a six-run sixth and a four-run seventh. Michael Cuddyer and Joe Crede hit back-to-back home runs in the second, marking the fourth time Minnesota has hit back-to-back shots this season. Matt Tolbert added a three-run blast in the seventh.
Every starter scored at least one run and six different players recorded an RBI. The club's 20 hits marked a season high.
As far as the new lineup goes, the general consensus among the players was if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
"I like that lineup," said Cuddyer, who was 4-for-6 with four runs scored and three RBIs. "If we score 20 runs a night, heck yeah."
|The White Sox gave up 20 or more runs for the fourth time in the past 50 years during a 20-1 loss to the Twins on Thursday in Chicago.|
|August 30, 1970||vs. BOS||22|
|May 21, 2009||vs. MIN||20|
|July 6, 2007||vs. MIN||20|
|April 2, 1998||at TEX||20|
"I like scoring 20 runs," Mauer added. "I don't know, I think it worked today. If we keep scoring runs, I guess we'll just have to see how it goes."
But Gardenhire put a stop to the fun, saying the lineup will be different again Friday, crediting the bottom of the order with the bulk of the club's success.
"Sure the big guys there are killers," Gardenhire said, "but the guys at the bottom of the lineup got on the bases to load them up for those guys. The guys at the bottom did their job today."
Nick Blackburn (3-2) won for the first time since April 29 against Tampa Bay, and picked up his first win in six career starts at U.S. Cellular Field. He scattered four hits and three walks over seven innings without allowing a run. He struck out two.
If the Twins' offense had been a little less intense, Blackburn said he probably could have finished off the game. He had thrown only 89 pitches when he was relieved by Jose Mijares after the seventh.
"Once you get to the fifth, sixth inning, it gets hard to actually keep your focus," Blackburn said. "After a while, you start to tighten up a little bit. In that seventh inning, it felt like I hadn't made a pitch in 45 minutes."
"He was getting stretched by our strength guy every stinking inning," Gardenhire added. "He probably could have finished the ballgame, but how many times are you going to watch him get stretched? We're not complaining, but we also have a starting pitcher to think about."
On the other side, White Sox starter Bartolo Colon (2-4) needed 61 pitches to get through two innings. He was relieved by Lance Broadway after giving up seven unearned runs in the second.
The Twins didn't let up for Broadway, who got beat up for six runs in 3 1/3 innings of relief. Jimmy Gobble came on to try to stop the bleeding and gave up the grand slam to Mauer.
"We did everything we could do wrong today," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said of his team's humiliating loss. "You just name it, we did it wrong. We made bad pitches, we didn't make the plays when we had to make the plays, we made a lot of mistakes on the basepaths and that's the result."
Blackburn could have told Guillen exactly what the White Sox (17-23) were doing wrong.
"The White Wox were just swinging at everything today, so it didn't take too long to get three outs," the Blackburn said.
Minnesota dealt Chicago its largest margin of defeat in franchise history and got exactly the kind of win it needed after a six-game losing streak.
"It was a good win and a good way to try and build up some momentum going into the homestand," Cuddyer said. "We didn't play well the first two games, and to be able to go out there and play well today on all sides of the game is huge."
"Everything kind of blew up out there, probably us [letting out] a little aggression on the whole road trip," Gardenhire added. "Just one of those days where everything we swung at found a hole somewhere. And if you've been in the game long enough, you've seen those. The big thing here is to try and carry it over into the weekend, and hopefully we'll start consistently swinging the bats."
David Just is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.