MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Hitting is supposed to be contagious, and a power surge has been spreading through the Minnesota Twins’ lineup.
“If one guy gets hot,” Morneau said, “it always seems to get another guy hot.”
Kubel, whose grand slam gave the Twins a 5-2 win in the 12th inning the night before, hit a two-run shot in the second off Matt Clement (5-5). Morneau’s slam in the sixth was the sixth of the season for Minnesota and the fourth in seven games. The team record is eight, set in 1961.
“I’d like to see a lot more of it,” said Kubel, who has four homers since he being called up from Triple-A three weeks ago. “I’m not trying to hit home runs. I think I can start lifting a little more, instead of hitting groundballs all over the place. I’m starting to feel a lot more comfortable doing that, and we’ll see what happens.”
This is a team that hasn’t had a player hit 30 home runs since 1987, by far the longest drought in the majors. Morneau, who has 15 homers and 51 RBIs, is on pace to end that streak.
“It’s June, isn’t it?” he said, smiling. “It’d be nice, but it’s not what we’re here for.”
The Twins won for the fifth time in six games and moved into a tie for third place in the AL Central with Cleveland, 11 games behind Detroit, but they’re still four games under .500.
Brad Radke (5-7) was the beneficiary of the strong offensive showing, allowing five hits, two walks and Coco Crisp’s home run in six innings while striking out three. He gave up less than four runs for only the fourth time in his 14 starts.
“I think they’ve had better lineups in the last couple of years, but they still have some pretty good boppers,” Radke said. “You don’t want to make mistakes.”
The Red Sox, who lost their third straight, dropped to second in the AL East, one game behind the Yankees. They were mostly concerned about Clement, who is in the middle of what is so far his worst of eight major league seasons.
Manager Terry Francona said he was experiencing pain in his right shoulder and biceps in the fifth inning, when he was pulled with two outs. Clement is scheduled to return to Boston on Thursday morning to be examined by the team’s medical staff.
“Hopefully it’s just fatigue,” Francona said, “but we have to find out.”
Clement, whose ERA actually dropped slightly to 6.61, had the same feeling in his last start—which was 10 days ago. He has had three layoffs of one week or more this year.
“I felt good playing catch in the days before, but it’s different when you’ve got big league hitters in the batter’s box,” Clement said.
Minnesota bailed Clement out twice. With one out and the bases loaded in the third, all on walks, Torii Hunter hit the first pitch he faced into a 5-4-3 double play. In the fourth, with one out and runners at second and third, Nick Punto popped the first pitch he saw to second base. Joe Mauer’s sharp drive was picked gracefully on one hop by second baseman Mark Loretta to end the inning.
The Twins, though, were far more patient in the majority of their plate appearances. They drew 10 walks, one intentional, without a strikeout. Michael Cuddyer’s bases-loaded walk against Jermaine Van Buren forced in a run in the sixth, and Morneau followed with his opposite-field drive on a fastball from Manny Delcarmen that made it 8-1 Minnesota.
An All-Star last year whose season soured after the break, Clement has posted quality starts of six innings or more and three runs or less in only four of 12 outings, none consecutive.
Clement—who signed a three-year, $25.5 million contract before the 2005 season—tied a season high with six walks. Without a strikeout, he allowed three runs, five hits and hit a batter.
“I felt rusty the entire game,” Clement said.
A couple of customers interrupted the top of the eighth inning, running all over the field before their capture. One of the men managed to high-five Hunter and sprint around the bases. After a headfirst slide into home, the visiting team bat boy slammed him to the turf with a perfect open-field tackle and pinned him down until security arrived. “As soon as the guy rounded third, there weren’t any guards around, so I thought I’d hit him,” said Nate Reese, 25, who received plenty of praise afterward in both clubhouses.