A switch to the AL seemed to cure Livan Hernandez’s problem of giving up home runs - until his most recent outing. Avoiding the long ball might be a lot easier in his upcoming one.
The Twins (9-10) have won all four starts Hernandez (3-0, 3.00 ERA) has made, though the free-agent acquisition failed to emerge victorious for the first time Wednesday. He had his worst performance in a Minnesota uniform, giving up five runs - three earned - and eight hits in six innings of a 6-5 victory over Tampa Bay.
Hernandez gave up three homers after not allowing one in his first three starts. He allowed 34 last season with Arizona, second-most in the majors behind Woody Williams (35), and the 269 he’s allowed over the last 10-plus seasons are the third-most in baseball behind Javier Vazquez (275) and Jamie Moyer (271).
“You don’t give up home runs, you don’t pitch,” Hernandez told the Twins’ official Web site after Wednesday’s start.
The good news for Hernandez is Oakland (12-8) has hit just seven home runs all season - two in the last 14 games.
“I think there are some home runs coming,” A’s manager Bob Geren said. “We definitely have some power in this lineup, it just hasn’t shown yet.”
The A’s offense, though, came to life over the weekend during a three-game sweep of Kansas City. Oakland totaled 26 runs and 42 hits in the series, with Bobby Crosby going 8-for-13 with a homer and seven RBIs.
“We’re coming together,” said Crosby, whose 15 RBIs are tops on the A’s. “It’s not one guy driving in all the runs. We’re getting guys on and it’s a complete team deal.”
When Minnesota has guys on, no one has been better than Justin Morneau. He drove in three of the Twins’ five runs this weekend, including an RBI single in the 10th inning Sunday to give Minnesota a 2-1 win over Cleveland. Morneau homered the previous day in a 3-0 victory.
The 2006 AL MVP is 9-for-15 with 12 RBIs with runners in scoring position this season.
“He’s the guy we want up there in big situations,” manager Ron Gardenhire said of Morneau, who leads the Twins with five homers and 16 RBIs.
He’s one of the few position players producing for Minnesota, which has scored eight runs over the last four games and has the second-fewest in the AL this season with 71.
Many of the Twins’ offseason acquisitions have been struggling. Delmon Young is hitless in his last 10 at-bats and is batting .236 with two extra-base hits in 19 games. Mike Lamb is in a 2-for-27 slump and hitting .145 overall, and Craig Monroe is batting .231 with no homers and three RBIs.
Monroe, though, is 7-for-11 against Joe Blanton (1-3, 4.24), who starts for Oakland on Tuesday.
Blanton has been given two runs of support or less in four of his five starts. He went a season-high eight innings Wednesday, but tied a career high by allowing 12 hits and gave up all of Seattle’s runs in a 4-2 loss.
The right-hander is 3-3 with a 4.39 ERA against the Twins and split two starts against them last season.
Minnesota was 5-2 against the A’s in 2007, but has lost its last three series in Oakland.