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Updated: May 19th, 2011 5:22pm
Twins Daily: Justin Morneau's bat leads 11-1 drubbing, sweep of A's

Twins Daily: Justin Morneau's bat leads 11-1 drubbing, sweep of A's

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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A rare offensive outburst combined with yet another spectacular outing by Blackburn lifted the Minnesota Twins to one of their most comfortable margins of victory this season -- an 11-1 drubbing of the Oakland Athletics on Thursday.

The skinny

The 11-run outburst by the Twins offense provided more than enough cushion for Blackburn, who pitched seven innings, allowing only one earned run on five hits while walking two and striking out one.

Offensively, the Twins (15-27) jumped in front early with a run in the first inning and another in the second, but it was Justin Morneau's two-run bomb in the fifth inning that essentially broke the game open, 4-0.

From there, the floodgates opened. The Twins scored six runs in the eighth inning, with help from an RBI single by Michael Cuddyer, an RBI double by Danny Valencia and a three-run homer by Trevor Plouffe.

The 16 hits and 11 runs pounded out were both season highs for the Twins.

Turning point

The Twins were set to face right-hander Tyson Ross, who has yet to allow more than three earned runs in a start this season. After allowing a leadoff single to Denard Span, Ross called for trainers while facing Trevor Plouffe.

The right-hander left with a strained left oblique without retiring a batter in the first inning, meaning the A's (22-22) were forced to tap into their bullpen for nine full innings.

Span advanced to second base on a passed ball, and Jason Kubel drove him in shortly after with a base hit off left-hander David Purcey.

The A's went on to use five total pitchers.

Numbers game

1: Home runs by Twins catchers this season after Rene Rivera went deep in the second inning. Rivera now has four career major league home runs, and this was his first since 2006.

3: Consecutive games the Twins have scored at least one run in the first inning. The Twins led the major leagues in 2010 with 132 first-inning runs -- 33 more than they scored in any other inning.

3: The number of times the Twins have won a game by more than two runs this season.

13: Runs driven in for Morneau, who with a 3-for-5 performance has upped his batting line to .245/.309/.367. The two-run blast was Morneau's first home run in nearly three weeks.

Health report

• DH Jim Thome (strained oblique) and OF Jason Repko (strained right quad) are both expected to be activated prior to Monday's game against the Mariners at Target Field.

• 2B Tsuyoshi Nishioka (broken fibula) is not yet ready to play in rehab games, according to the Star Tribune. When he does start playing games, Nishioka will likely have to play in at least 10 before returning to the big leagues. Nishioka has been in Fort Myers, gradually increasing his workload.

• C Joe Mauer (weakness/soreness) continues to work out in Florida.

On deck

Following a memorial service for Hall of Fame slugger Harmon Killebrew, the Twins kick off a three-game interleague series in Arizona against the Diamondbacks on Friday (8:40 p.m., 1500 ESPN). Left-hander Brian Duensing (2-3, 4.61) will face right-hander Ian Kennedy (4-1, 3.05).

Duensing posted a 2.91 ERA in five April starts, but in his last three outings -- two starts and one relief appearance -- the left-hander has yielded 10 earned runs (12.86 ERA) on 14 hits and seven walks while striking out only three in seven innings.

Kennedy, outside of a nine-earned run clunker against the Cardinals on April 13, has been fantastic this season, allowing three earned runs or fewer in each of his other eight starts. Four times this season Kennedy has struck out eight batters or more, including a nine-inning, three-hit shutout on April 25 against the Phillies when he struck out 10 and walked nobody.

Coming up

• Saturday: at Arizona, 9:10 p.m. RHP Scott Baker (2-3, 3.99) vs. RHP Armando Galarraga (3-4, 5.91).
• Sunday: at Arizona, 3:10 p.m. LHP Francisco Liriano (3-5, 6.12) vs. RHP Daniel Hudson (4-5, 4.03).
• Monday: vs. Seattle, 7:10 p.m. RHP Carl Pavano (2-4, 5.30) vs. LHP Jason Vargas (3-2, 3.39).

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
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