MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—The rare chance to relax came early for Carlos Silva and the Twins. Minutes into Wednesday’s matinee against Seattle, their ragged offense broke loose for a seven-run first inning fueled by Michael Cuddyer’s grand slam.
“I’m going to sound like a broken record again,” Cuddyer said, smiling. “Hopefully, we can sustain this, and hopefully we can carry it into the next series and be able to put some runs together to help our pitching staff out.”
Cuddyer’s big hit against Miguel Batista sent Minnesota toward an 8-4 victory that ended the Mariners’ winning streak at five.
Silva (10-12) brought the second-worst run support among AL starters into the game, but he cruised behind the big lead and completed seven innings for his first victory this month. Silva gave up two runs and eight hits, hitting one batter with a pitch and striking out three.
Even two-time Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana has told Silva, his best friend on the team, that it’s difficult to loosen up when the lineup isn’t providing much help.
“When it’s always 1-1, 1-0, you always want to make perfect pitches,” Silva said. “You don’t want to make mistakes.”
Batista (13-9) insisted he felt fine and threw most of his pitches to the right places, but this one was essentially over before he even got two outs.
“That wasn’t the Batista we’re used to seeing,” Mariners manager John McLaren said.
The Twins, who have been shut out a major league-high 12 times and managed only nine runs on the first five games of this homestand, sent 11 batters to the plate against Batista in the first.
Jason Kubel, who went 3-for-4, hit an RBI single in the second to cap Batista’s shortest start this year. After allowing eight runs, nine hits and one walk in two innings, Batista lobbied to stay in the game and avoid some extra work for the bullpen—Seattle doesn’t have a day off until Sept. 6—but McLaren had seen enough.
“Sometimes you have to recognize when you don’t have it and save yourself for the next series,” said Batista, who lost for only the second time in his last eight starts.
Ben Broussard broke up Silva’s shutout by going deep with one out in the seventh, giving the Mariners seven homers in the three-game series. Kubel nearly caught it with a fully extended leap over the left-field wall, and the fans sitting in the nearby seats groaned loudly when they saw the ball glance off his glove. Kubel sat glumly on the warning track and slapped his hand in frustration.
“I’m just glad I was able to sneak one in there,” said Broussard, who had only one at-bat over the last 11 games. Seattle is 17-7 since ending a seven-game losing streak on July 27, the best mark in the majors during that span, and McLaren has tried to keep his streaking lineup in tact.
Despite this setback, the Mariners—who woke up with a 2 1/2 -game lead over the New York Yankees in the AL wild-card race—began a daunting stretch in strong fashion. They travel to Texas for a four-game series in the heat against the Rangers, who swept them in Arlington the last time.
The Twins, who moved back to the .500 mark, began the day 6 1/2 games behind the first-place Cleveland Indians in the AL Central.
“We cannot say, ‘Let’s win the series,”’ Silva said. “No, let’s sweep the series. You know what I mean? That’s like how tough it’s getting.”
Silva has done his part, after an awful 2006 and a shaky spring training left most people surprised to see him in the rotation.
“He took a lot of heat. … We all did: `Carlos can’t do this and can’t do that,”’ manager Ron Gardenhire said. “But he’s a major league pitcher. He’s got a good track record of getting people out.”
Twins catcher Joe Mauer had the day off with a bruised ankle, but was available to play. Jason Tyner came in for center fielder Torii Hunter, who had a sore shoulder but said he’d be in the lineup on Thursday. … Rookie Ryan Rowland-Smith, selected by Minnesota in the winter-meeting draft but returned to Seattle when he didn’t make the roster in 2005, turned in a career-high four hitless innings in relief of Batista. The Australian lefty struck out six with two walks. … Reigning AL MVP Justin Morneau’s career-long home run drought reached 27 games and 103 at-bats. He was still tied for second in the league with 28 homers when the day began.