Four-hit night has Morneau in swing of things

Four-hit night has Morneau in swing of things

Four-hit night has Morneau in swing of things
MINNEAPOLIS -- Justin Morneau's performance in Monday's 19-7 victory over the Orioles might be a watershed moment as he works to recapture the swing earned him four All-Star selections and an American League Most Valuable Player Award.

The first baseman registered the 10th four-hit game of his career, and his first since July 4, 2009. Morneau also extended his hitting streak to 14 games, two shy of his career-best of 16 from June 22-July 9, 2006.

Morneau is hitting .356 during the streak, after struggling for most of June. The 31-year-old hit just .232 last month with a .316 slugging percentage.

"I have to keep working hard and keep trying to get back to being the hitter I want to be and I expect myself to be," Morneau said. "Hopefully this is just a step along the way."

Morneau's use of the entire field has been paramount during his streak. Three of the left-hander's four hits in Monday's game went to either the left side or center field, taking advantage of another dramatic right-side shift by an opposing defense.

"I'm just trying to take what they give me," Morneau said. "When I'm going good, I'm using the whole field.

"I wouldn't say I'm trying to hit the ball over there, but if the opportunity presents itself -- if they throw something over there -- it's just been managing to get through there."

Manager Ron Gardenhire noted something else Morneau has displayed recently -- a big smile.

"Right now, it's just about seeing him smile and actually enjoying the game," Gardenhire said. "Getting some hits, he needed that. Once you get your confidence, everything seems to follow along behind it."