Twins 6, Braves 0
MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—The day after his wife gave birth, Carlos Silva found his new son a welcomed distraction from the usual pitching jitters.
“Most of the time, it’s game, game, game, game. Today, it was game, baby, baby, baby, baby,” Silva said after throwing his second career shutout in Minnesota’s 6-0 victory over Atlanta on Wednesday night.
Torii Hunter dropped down a rare bunt for an RBI single and later hit the last of his team’s three home runs, helping Silva and the Twins hand the Braves the eighth loss in their last 11 games.
“I’m sure he had that on his mind, too,” manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Yes, but that was overwhelmed by the euphoria of his first look at Justin Silva, who was born early Tuesday morning and kept the right-hander at the hospital for about 22 hours.
“I don’t know if he hear me, but I say to him … ‘I’m going to do my best for you,”’ Silva said.
That he did, striking out only two—but avoiding a walk and allowing eight singles. He got double-play balls hit by Willie Harris in the third, Brian McCann in the fourth and Jeff Francoeur in the seventh.
“We’re in a pretty frustrating point in our season. Let’s snap out of it soon,” said Chipper Jones, who came off the disabled list to hit singles in each of his first three at-bats. Bruised hands kept Jones out for the past three weeks.
As Silva fanned Kelly Johnson to finish the eighth, the pitcher bent over and leaned forward—his body language encouraging a called strike from home plate umpire Ed Rapuano—before pumping his fist as he sprinted off the mound.
One inning later, Silva wrapped up the first complete game shutout for Minnesota since Johan Santana blanked the Oakland Athletics on Aug. 12, 2005. This was Silva’s first complete game in nearly two years.
To get there, he used his favorite sinker effectively but also tossed in some tricky changeups at the right times.
“We just couldn’t get the big hit when we needed it tonight to put the pressure on the guy,” said Jones, who finished 3-for-4. “Tip your cap.”
Atlanta starter Chuck James (5-6) was knocked around throughout his 4 1-3 innings, allowing nine hits and six runs with one strikeout. James had allowed three runs or fewer in each of his last eight starts.
After Morneau’s groundout drove in the game’s first run, Hunter surprised James with a well-placed, two-out drag bunt in front of the mound while Michael Cuddyer—who had three hits—streaked home.
Even though Hunter is one of their few power hitters, the Twins don’t mind him doing what they teach—to think about bunting when the third baseman is playing deep in an RBI situation.
“I just try to play the game. I know I have a little speed,” Hunter said.
Ford, who entered the game batting .218 with only two extra-base hits, hit a 1-2 pitch off the football seats above right field for a 3-0 lead to start the second.
Then came the fourth, when Cuddyer doubled ahead of Morneau’s 18th homer. After taking two quick strikes, Hunter followed by taking James the other way for his 14th long ball this year.
“I don’t know exactly what happened, but they had some good rips at him, that’s for sure,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said.
James has been provided only 12 runs over his last six starts, but this was his season high for runs allowed.
“I felt like I had a good fastball and everything today. It just worked against me,” James said. “I lifted it up in the zone a little bit, and those guys hit it pretty good.”
Ford played LF for Jason Kubel (sprained knee), who was available Wednesday but will likely start Thursday. Kubel was hurt last Saturday. … RH John Smoltz (shoulder inflammation) decided to make his next start for Atlanta on Saturday. His last turn was skipped. … RH Peter Moylan relieved James in the fifth. Moylan, an Australian who was signed by the Braves after catching their eye last spring in the World Baseball Classic, actually began his pro career with the Twins in 1996. He pitched two seasons of rookie ball with them before being released. … After the game, Minnesota activated LH reliever Dennys Reyes (shoulder inflammation) from the disabled list and optioned LH Carmen Cali to Triple-A Rochester.