After going 2-0 with a 3.32 ERA in his first three outings, including a brilliant eight-inning, four-hit effort in a 3-0 victory at Cleveland on April 15, the Twins’ staff ace lasted just two innings in Wednesday’s 11-8 loss to Detroit.
Radke was pounded for six runs and seven hits, striking out one in his shortest outing since May 30, 2002, when he was injured after recording just one out against Anaheim. The last time Radke had been pulled that swiftly without suffering an injury was Aug. 20, 1999, when he lasted just 1 2-3 innings against the New York Yankees.
“I thought I made a few good pitches, but I made some bad ones and they put the ball in play,” said Radke, who threw just 28 pitches.
It didn’t take long for Twins manager Ron Gardenhire to see that Radke wasn’t going to get better as the game progressed.
“Six runs is a lot in two innings,” Gardenhire said. “That’s enough. Rather than let him get his brains beat, you go to the bullpen and see what they can do.”
The Twins continued their strong start with Sunday’s 4-2 victory at Kansas City. Torii Hunter made a dramatic return from the disabled list, belting a three-run homer as Minnesota matched Boston for the AL’s best record at 12-6.
Hunter, out since April 7 with a strained right hamstring, hit a 390-foot shot off Royals left-hander Brian Anderson to cap the Twins’ four-run outburst in the third inning.
By beating Kansas City, Minnesota won its fourth straight series. Now, the Twins return to the Metrodome, where they have won seven of their first nine games for the best home record in the majors.
The Blue Jays enter Minnesota riding their first two-game winning streak of the season after Sunday’s 15-3 rout of the Orioles. Carlos Delgado and Eric Hinske each drove in three runs for Toronto, which is still off to the worst 18-game start in franchise history at 6-12.
Toronto, which set season highs for runs and hits (17) Sunday, has won three of four.