<
>

Clutch Hunter returns to lineup as DH

4/25/2004

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Torii Hunter is used to covering
center field for the Minnesota Twins, not starting as the designated
hitter.

But that was his assignment Sunday, his first game back from an
injury, and Hunter came through big, hitting a three-run homer in
Minnesota's 4-2 win over the Kansas City Royals.

"This is the worst job a man can have -- DH," said Hunter, who
was out since April 7 with a strained right hamstring. "I don't
want to do it again, though I think I'll have to do it tomorrow.
You hit a home run and you have to do it the next day.

"I didn't want to be too anxious coming off the disabled list.
You want to hit a five-run home run with nobody on."

In his second at-bat, Hunter hit a 1-2 pitch off Brian Anderson
390 feet over the left-field fence to cap a four-run third inning.

"(Hunter's home run) was pretty nice to see," Twins manager
Ron Gardenhire said. "Torii brings a lot to the table, not just as
a player but as a person. He did what stars are supposed to do."

The Twins scored all their runs in the third with two outs. Lew
Ford walked and advanced to second on Jose Offerman's single. Corey
Koskie followed with an RBI single to center, and Hunter capped the
rally with his first homer of the season.

"It was just far enough away, and he's a guy who's off the
plate anyway," Anderson said. "Giving up four runs when you have
two outs and nobody on is a killer. You just can't let that inning
get away from you. It's just inexcusable."

Anderson (1-1) allowed four runs and nine hits in 7 2-3 innings,
walking one and hitting another batter. He struck out one.

Carlos Silva (3-0) gave up one run and nine hits in seven
innings. He struck out two and walked none, and lowered his ERA
from 5.82 to 4.50.

"I felt good," Silva said. "I got a couple of double plays
that helped us out."

With the Twins up 4-1, he worked his way out of a bases-loaded
jam with one out in the fourth by getting David DeJesus to ground
into a 4-6-3 double play.

"He's got a power sinker," Gardenhire said. "That's what a
power sinker is supposed to do."

J.C. Romero pitched the eighth but was removed after walking
Matt Stairs to lead off the ninth.

Joe Nathan entered and got an out before loading the bases by
hitting Aaron Guiel with a pitch and giving up a single to DeJesus.
Nathan then walked Mendy Lopez to make it 4-2 before inducing Joe
Randa to foul out to the catcher and striking out Tony Graffanino
for his sixth save.

"That's as much pressure as you're going to have to see with
Graffanino up, you had (Carlos) Beltran on deck," Gardenhire said.
"That wasn't very pretty. If he had faced Beltran, I was just
going to take off."

The Royals scored in the fourth when Juan Gonzalez doubled and
Stairs drove him home with a single.

Game notes
Royals second baseman Graffanino extended his hitting
streak to seven games with a leadoff single in the first inning. It
was his fourth consecutive hit. He struck out in his next at-bat.
... Twins shortstop Cristian Guzman committed an error in the
second inning, his third in two games. ... Kansas City short stop
Andres Blanco extended his hitting streak to six games. He has hit
in six of the seven games in which he's played. ... Royals relief
pitcher Justin Huisman made his major league debut in the ninth.