Twins continue riding offensive wave
Cuddyer's cycle paces 11-run attack; Slowey shuts door
MINNEAPOLIS -- If there was any question as to how the Twins' offense would respond one day after putting up 20 runs against the White Sox, Michael Cuddyer had all sorts of answers.Cuddyer hit for the cycle Friday against Milwaukee -- highlighted by a three-run first-inning homer -- as the Twins trounced the red-hot Brewers, 11-3, in their first Interleague game of the season.
"I think we saw a very good ballgame tonight," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "The boys came out swinging again."For Minnesota, Friday was the latest installment for a recently surging offense. With the 11 runs against the Brewers and the 20 against the White Sox, the Twins crossed the plate more times in the past two nights than they did in their previous seven games combined. "To be able to win like we did yesterday and to continue that momentum and to come back and score another 11 runs is big," Cuddyer said. "Hopefully, we can build off that momentum. Take it into tomorrow's game, win the series and give us a chance to sweep and have a great homestand." The bat of Cuddyer and the arm of starter Kevin Slowey helped to cool off a recently red-hot Brewers team that entered the night having won eight of its past nine games. Slowey (6-1) faced the minimum amount of hitters through three innings before surrendering his first hit in the fourth. His sixth win of the season came after a solid outing against the New York Yankees, during which he allowed just two runs through 7 2/3 innings but didn't factor in the decision. Against an equally potent Brewers offense Friday night, Slowey took advantage of a patient Milwaukee club to establish control early in the count. "We talked about how these guys are hitting very well, but at the same time, they're very patient," Slowey said. "Going up there, they have plans. They're not just up there swinging from their heels. So it kind of gave me the opportunity to get ahead early, throw some pitches that maybe they didn't want to swing at." "I said this is a good fastball-hitting team, you have to spin it on them," Gardenhire said. "He did that and used his slider well." As good as Slowey was, a little help from Cuddyer certainly didn't hurt. Following a one-out, first-inning walk to Joe Mauer -- who hit second in the lineup for the second successive game -- and a base hit by Justin Morneau, Cuddyer tattooed a shot to deep left-center field off Brewers starter Manny Parra, building a 3-0 cushion for Slowey. Two more runs over the next two innings would be all the insurance Slowey needed. The Twins used small ball in the second to make it a 4-0 game. Matt Tolbert reached with a bunt single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Nick Punto. Tolbert then stole third -- with no throw from catcher Jason Kendall -- and wound up scoring on a sacrifice fly by Mauer. "We had some super performances, a couple of days in a row now where the ball is flying around the field and guys are putting good swings," Gardenhire said. "We're running around. Tolbert gave us a lift -- drops a bunt down and ends up stealing third." "We came out and scored early and kind of kept scoring," Slowey said. "That makes my job a whole lot easier." Cuddyer started off the third with a ground-rule double and would eventually come around to score on a base hit by Brendan Harris, putting the Twins up, 5-0. But the bulk of the damage was done in the fourth, as Minnesota went on to plate four more runs, effectively ending the night for Parra. The Brewers starter left the game after giving up nine runs -- eight earned -- on eight hits. Slowey made his exit in the eighth after giving up a run on two hits in the inning. After 91 pitches, he gave way to reliever Sean Henn, who induced a double-play ground ball from Prince Fielder to get out of the inning. "I was thinking it would have been nice to finish that inning," Slowey said. "But you bring in a guy like Sean Henn, who's been throwing the ball really well, especially against lefties. You can't argue with a double play." It was the worst outing of the season for Parra (3-5), as he lasted just 3 1/3 innings before Brewers manager Ken Macha went to the bullpen. Prior to Friday's loss, Parra had gone six innings in each of his past four starts. The eight earned runs were also a season high for Parra. For the Brewers, the 11-3 loss was their largest margin of defeat this season. Milwaukee's largest prior loss was an 11-4 drubbing at the hands of Philadelphia on April 21. With two offensive outbursts in a row, the Twins have already put their latest road woes behind them. "Once we got home, that road trip was over," Slowey said. "I think the season's so long that you can't really dwell on the past series or the past week. The week we had was tough, and we're glad to be home and we'll move forward."
Tyler Mason is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.