Without Puckett, Twins shake slump


ANAHEIM, Calif. -- And all of this with Kirby Puckett on the bench.

Puckett had the night off, but Minnesota momentarily halted its nearly season-long slump Monday night with a 22-hit attack including four hits apiece by Dave Winfield and Shane Mack that backed starter Willie Banks to a 13-3 victory over the California Angels at the Big A.

"Same lineup tomorrow," Puckett said.

Asked whether he would keep Puckett out of the lineup again tonight, manager Tom Kelly said he might consider it. He wasn't kidding either. Puckett had a dreadful game Sunday and Kelly said he thought Puckett looked tired. The Twins, who have seen opponents bat around eight times this season, did so themselves for the first time in a six-run fourth inning that blew open the game. Trailing 1-0, the Twins strung together seven singles and a walk all with two out. They sent nine more men to plate in a four-run eighth inning.

This is supposed to be the type of game the Twins play regularly but it hasn't worked out that way. The Twins are near the bottom of the league in runs and hadn't seen this sort of production for awhile (at least not when they were batting), so it's worth recording the highlights for posterity:

The 22 hits (two shy of the club record) and 13 runs were both season highs. Every starter had at least one hit, and every starter but Brian Harper scored. Twenty-nine of their 54 batters reached base.

Winfield, whose batting average had dipped dangerously close to the Mendoza Line, had his first four-hit game as a Twin. The four hits were as many as he'd had since April 28. "He'd been hitting the ball hard and had nothing to show for it," Kelly said. "I've never seen anything like it. He could be hitting .250 or .260, easily.."

Mack, bothered by a sore shoulder much of the season, entered the game batting .202, so he shaved his trademark mustache and then had four hits, including his first home run of the season, and drove in three runs.

Rookie Pat Meares had three hits, or three times his previous career total.

With Mack and Chuck Knoblauch struggling, manager Tom Kelly had Gene Larkin batting leadoff again and he responded with two hits.

Even Mike Pagliarulo chipped in. He had three hits, including his first home run since 1991, a three-run shot in the eighth inning.

All that was good enough for Banks, who pitched in and out of trouble but held the Angels to two runs in 52/3 innings.

Banks' three previous games had been some of Minnesota's worst of the season. He took a 5-1 lead into the seventh inning two weeks ago only to see Minnesota lose 16-5. They were shut out 8-0 and 3-0 his previous two starts and he had pitched poorly each time.

Banks was better about getting ahead of the hitters Monday, but still walked three batters. He wriggled off the hook several times though, striking ouy Gary Disarcina with the bases loaded and two out in the second inning, and watching reliever Mike Hartley bail him out of a jam in the sixth.

After Banks balked Chad Curtis to second base in the third inning, ex-Twin Chili Davis singled home California's first run to give the Angels a 1-0 lead. It didn't last.

California starter John Farrell is coming back from two years of arm injury but he didn't have much against the Twins. Leading 1-0 in the top of the fourth, he gave up a two-out single to Pagliarulo and that opened the floodgates. Six singles and a walk later, the Twins led 6-1.

The Angels threatened a time or two after that, but Mack delivered a killing blow in the seventh inning when he hit his first home run since last September.

Minnesota poured it on in the eighth inning with four more runs, the final three scoring on Pagliarulo's first homer since the 1991 postseason. Minnesota closed out the scoring with a run in the ninth.

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad