Twins 13, Blue Jays 4

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TORONTO (AP)—Torii Hunter didn’t need much time to find his stroke.

Hunter hit a grand slam and tied a career high with six RBIs, leading the Twins to a 13-4 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night.

The former All-Star missed the final two months of last season after breaking his left ankle and experienced soreness in it during the spring, but the Twins need him if they’re going to contend for a playoff spot.

“I’m anxious,” Hunter said. “I’ve been hungry all offseason trying to get back out there, trying to get healthy. I’m still rehabbing to this day, but I’m just happy to be out there. When you break your ankle and you are out two months that tells you that you don’t want to retire any time soon. I’m a competitor and I want to play and that’s what you saw tonight.”

Hunter went 4-for-5 and scored three runs.

His fifth career grand slam in the eighth against Jason Frasor gave Minnesota a 12-4 lead. He had six RBIs in two other games—the last when he hit his last grand slam June 1, 2005, against Cleveland.

Shannon Stewart and Luis Rodriguez also homered and every starter reached base for the Twins, who are looking for more offense this year after finishing last in the AL in runs last season.

“I’ve been hearing that we don’t score a lot of runs but I think we shocked a lot of people today,” Hunter said.

Last season Hunter was missed in the lineup, the field and the clubhouse while the three-time AL Central champions faded to third place. As the longest-tenured position player on the Twins, Hunter, who turned 30 last July, has become a leader.

“Before I got hurt we were having fun and guys were scoring runs,” Hunter said. “Then next thing you know I got hurt and everything just went south. I don’t know if it was me or not, but maybe it was just the spirit. It wasn’t just all the production and everything, just the spirit went down. I love these guys. They are like my brothers, so it was tough to see.”

Hunter—in the last season of his contract—wants to have a 30-30 season for the first time.

“This year I feel like I’m better at the plate,” Hunter said. “Every year I make adjustments.”

New acquisitions Troy Glaus and Lyle Overbay hit back-to-back homers in the first inning for the Blue Jays, who beat Minnesota in the season opener.

Attendance was just 18,156—a day after the Blue Jays attracted the fourth largest crowd for a home opener.

Minnesota starter Brad Radke got off to rough start, allowing three runs in the first. But Radke (1-0) settled down—allowing four runs on eight hits, while striking out two and walking none in six innings.

“I tried to hold it to 2-0, then I tried to hold it to 3-0 and then I tried to hold it to 4-0. It’s a good thing that the fences aren’t closer to home plate because I had some luck on my side tonight,” Radke said.

Down 4-0, the Twins tied it in the fourth on five singles and two errors.

After Hunter hit an RBI single off Josh Towers (0-1), Justin Morneau hit a run-scoring single to center fielder Vernon Wells, who threw wildly back into the infield allowing Morneau to reach second.

One batter later, Jason Kubel singled off the foot of Towers, scoring Hunter. Shortstop Russ Adams picked up the ball, but his throw to third sailed into the dugout, allowing Morneau to score the tying run.

Stewart led off the fifth with a homer off Towers, giving Minnesota a 5-4 lead.

“It just got bad,” Towers said. “The tough part is I gave up a four-run lead. It was just a poor turnaround and bad effort on my part.”

Stewart—a former Blue Jay—homered off Halladay on Tuesday. He was shocked when fans threw things at him when he was in left field in the opener.

Rondell White’s sacrifice fly, Hunter’s RBI single and Vinnie Chulk’s run-scoring wild pitch gave Minnesota an 8-4 lead in the seventh.

Frank Catalanotto, who entered the game hitting .429 against Radke, doubled in the first and scored on Glaus’ homer. Overbay followed with his drive to give Toronto a 3-0 lead. Glaus added an RBI single in the third.

Towers allowed five runs—four earned—on 10 hits in 4 2-3 innings.

He tied for the team lead with 13 wins and led the Blue Jays with 208 2-3 innings last season. He also posted career bests in ERA (3.71), strikeouts (112) and complete games (two).


Glaus went 3-for-4 with three RBI. … The Blue Jays hit back-to-back homers for the first time since Orlando Hudson and Adams did it August 21, 2005 at Chicago. … Rodriguez hit his first career pinch-hit homer, a solo shot off Justin Speier in the ninth.

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