Twins Daily: Monster first inning sinks Giants, propels streak to 8
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There was no jetlag for the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday in San Francisco. Tying a major-league record with eight hits to start the game, the Twins scored eight runs in the first inning, routed the Giants 9-2 and cut their deficit in the division to 6½ games.
It started with a Ben Revere single off of shortstop Miguel Tejada's glove. It ended with Giants starter Madison Bumgarner in the clubhouse and the Twins (32-39) well on their way to an eighth consecutive win and their 15th in 17 games.
Alexi Casilla followed Revere's hit with a double down the left-field line. Joe Mauer grounded an RBI single off the mound. Michael Cuddyer ripped an RBI double into the left-field corner. Delmon Young's RBI single up the middle made it 3-0.
Danny Valencia doubled to left-center to score another run, Luke Hughes singled over third base to bring home two more and Tsuyoshi Nishioka doubled over center fielder Andres Torres' head before Bumgarner finally got an out, fanning Twins pitcher Carl Pavano on three pitches.
He didn't get another one. Revere came up again and blooped a double down the left-field line that scored Hughes and Nishioka to make it 8-0 and sent Bumgarner to the showers. Casilla reached against reliever Guillermo Mota on Pablo Sandoval's fielding error before Mauer lined into a double play, ending the frame.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Twins last had nine hits in an inning on July 21, 2004, against Tampa Bay. Their last eight-run inning came on Aug. 23, 2009, at Kansas City.
It was more than enough support for Pavano, who held the slumping Giants (39-34) scoreless until Eli Whiteside's line-drive home run with two outs in the seventh inning.
Emmanuel Burriss drove in another run with a two-out single in the eighth to cut the Twins' lead to 8-2. But Cody Ross grounded out to end that inning, Casilla provided insurance with a solo homer to right in the top of the ninth and Jose Mijares worked a 1-2-3 bottom half to put away the opener of the three-game series.
If the Giants were going to make a game of it, they probably needed to capitalize in the bottom of the third inning, when they put runners on second and third with one out.
But Andres Torres flew out to left field on Pavano's next pitch and Tejada flew out to right, leaving two runners in scoring position.
The Giants only advanced one more runner to third base before Whiteside's homer in the seventh.
651: Days since a big-league team started a game with eight consecutive hits. The last team to do it was the Chicago Cubs on Sept. 8, 2009, against Pittsburgh.
20: Years since an American League team did it. The Yankees opened with eight straight hits on Sept. 25, 1990.
0: Hits in the Giants' previous 30 plate appearances with runners in scoring position before Burriss' RBI single in the eighth.
2: Hits for Mauer, who added a double to left-center in the ninth -- improving to 3-for-16 (.188) since he returned from the disabled list.
2: Home runs in as many games for Casilla, who had one in his previous 221 games.
.351: Batting average (34-for-97) since May 24 for Casilla, who has eight doubles, a triple, two homers and 11 RBIs in that stretch.
107, 75: Pitches and strikes thrown by Pavano, who allowed two earned runs on nine hits with two strikeouts and no walks in eight innings.
• Valencia (upper-arm strain) returned from a one-game absence and was in the lineup at third base and batting sixth.
• RHP Joe Nathan (elbow tenderness) pitched the eighth inning at Triple-A Rochester on Tuesday, allowing a bloop single before getting a pair of groundouts and a flyout to complete a scoreless inning. He is scheduled to throw another inning on Wednesday. If all goes well, there's a good chance Nathan would rejoin the Twins on Friday at Milwaukee.
Nick Blackburn (6-4, 3.16) has allowed two earned runs or less in eight of nine starts since May 4 -- a stretch in which he's 5-0 with a 2.29 ERA, 15 walks and 33 strikeouts. He'll start Wednesday's game (9:15 p.m., 1500 ESPN) against fellow right-hander Ryan Vogelsong (4-1, 1.92), a 33-year-old North Carolina native who hadn't pitched in a big-league game since 2006 until a relief appearance on April 18. Vogelsong pitched three years in Nippon Professional Baseball, the top league in Japan, and had stints last year with Philadelphia and the Los Angeles Angels before agreeing to a minor-league deal with the Giants in January.
• Thursday: at San Francisco, 2:45 p.m. LHP Brian Duensing (4-6, 4.82) vs. RHP Tim Lincecum (5-6, 3.39).
• Friday: at Milwaukee, 7:10 p.m. RHP Scott Baker (5-4, 3.24) vs. LHP Randy Wolf (5-4, 3.15).
• Saturday: at Milwaukee, 6:10 p.m. LHP Francisco Liriano (4-6, 4.59) vs. RHP Yovani Gallardo (8-4, 4.11).