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Twins' bats extend drought vs. Yanks

Twins' bats extend drought vs. Yanks

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NEW YORK -- All the talk coming into the Twins' series with the Yankees was how much the talented New York lineup had been struggling to score runs.

So much for those scuffles. Instead, it's the Twins' offense that has been nonexistent of late.

The Twins were shut out for the second time in their past three games, as they saw their losing streak extended to three games with an 8-0 loss at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night.

"We're having a very hard time scoring runs right now," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "And it's been that way for three games now. We get some hits and we're getting men on, but we can't get the big hit."

Since capturing an 8-5 win in Detroit on Saturday, the Twins have hit just .165 over their last 27 innings. They've scored just one run over that span and found plenty of trouble getting any sort of running game going.

But unlike the previous two games, in which the Twins felt they were just dominated by a quality pitcher, this time they had chances to get to Yankees starter Chien-Ming Wang.

Chances like a one-out double in the second inning by Justin Morneau off Wang (8-4) went wasted. But it was more than the offense's inability to come up with the big hit that irked Gardenhire. Rather, it was the little mistakes that signaled trouble, like Jason Bartlett getting thrown out for the first time on the bases this year when he tried to run on the first pitch after drawing a leadoff walk in the fourth.

The Twins still managed to load the bases with one out in that inning, but Torii Hunter grounded into a 5-4-3 double play to end that threat. It was the first of three straight innings that the Twins got a leadoff batter on base and could not tally a run.

"We had a couple of silly things, like getting on and then being thrown out on the first pitch," Gardenhire said. "Those kinds of mistakes, it's just not good enough, certainly not against this team. You make mistakes against them and they'll eat you up over there. We just have to do better."

It was clear that the frustration had set in when Hunter was ejected in the eighth inning by home-plate umpire Ron Kulpa. After a third called strike in Nick Punto's at-bat, Hunter emerged from the dugout pointing and yelling at Kulpa.

Just one inning earlier, during Hunter's at-bat, he had been called out on strikes and Hunter appeared visibly upset with the call.

But Hunter said the frustration leading to his outburst was more than just that call. Add to it Hunter's inability to drive in a run in that fourth inning and an error that Hunter made earlier in the game that eventually led to a run for New York, and well, it was the ending to a difficult night for the center fielder.

"It had to do with a little bit of everything," Hunter said of the ejection. "There was a little build-up there. It felt pretty good to get it out."

Still, to see their veteran leader get thrown out was a surprise for the Twins. Hunter didn't want to discuss what led to his intense anger that forced him to be held back by bench coach Steve Liddle, but it was clear that something had set him off.

"I was pretty upset," Hunter said. "For me to go off, something ain't right. When I get frustrated and you see me go off like that, something is wrong."

Wrong for Hunter and the Twins, yes. But whatever had been ailing the Yankees' offense has disappeared over the past two days.

New York tagged Carlos Silva (6-9) for six runs over 5 1/3 innings, with most of the damage coming in a rough sixth, which included Hunter's error in center. The Yankees have now scored 13 runs off the Twins over the first two games of the series.

"I know all of you say this team is really struggling, but this is the New York Yankees," Gardenhire said. "It's an All-Star lineup and they can come out and run off 10 wins in a row with the best of them. That's the type of baseball team they are."

The club has hope that things can change on Wednesday when Johan Santana takes the mound. If there is one pitcher who helps get the club back on track, it's their ace. But in the end, it all comes down to being better offensively.

"He'll give us a chance and we'll see if we can score some runs," Gardenhire said. "That's what this ballclub needs right now."

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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