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Baker tosses one-hitter, blanks Royals

Sep 1, 2007 - 3:53 AM By Anthony Maggio PA Sportsticker Contributing Writer

MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Scott Baker was almost perfect.

Baker carried a perfect game into the ninth inning before yielding a walk and a single as the Minnesota Twins snapped a four-game losing streak with a 5-0 victory over the Kansas City Royals in the second game of Friday's doubleheader.

Baker (8-6) had been pitching well of late, entering the contest with a 2.88 ERA in his previous six starts despite a 3-2 record over that stretch. But this was the most impressive he has been during his three-year career, tying a career-high with nine strikeouts while completely silencing what was an opportunistic Royals offense earlier in the day during a 9-4 victory.

It was the 15th one-hitter in the history of the Twins franchise. It came one week after the birth of Baker's second son, Easton, who was born five weeks premature.

"I know a lot's been going on and it just keeps things in perspective," Baker said. "Once you get things in perspective, it makes this game go a lot better. Anytime you have something of that nature happen, it makes the game all the more fun."

John Buck drew a five-pitch walk to lead off the ninth inning, breaking up the perfect game. One out later, pinch hitter Mike Sweeney laced Baker's 0-1 offering into center field for a base hit to end his no-hit bid.

"I thought he was going to hit a hard, ground-ball double play," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I honestly thought that. He had such a strong, sinking fastball tonight, I thought for sure a ground ball was coming."

Sweeney was activated from the disabled list after the first game of the doubleheader. He appeared in a game for the first time since June 17.

"It's been so long since I had a hit in the big leagues, I was going to ask him for the ball," Sweeney said.

"I did the best I could," Baker said. "I made the right pitch."

It was nearly the third no-hitter thrown this season - all of which would have come from American League Central Division starters. Mark Buehrle held the Texas Rangers hitless in Chicago for the White Sox on April 18 and Detroit Tigers righthander Justin Verlander accomplished the feat against the Milwaukee Brewers on June 12 at Comerica Park.

It would have been Minnesota's first no-hitter since Eric Milton accomplished the feat against Anaheim on September 11, 1999.

"The goal is always to win," Royals manager Buddy Bell said. "But you never want to be no-hit. That's embarrassing, regardless of who does it."

All the offense Baker needed came in the third inning, as Mike Redmond and Nick Punto both singled and later scored on Jason Bartlett's two-out RBI base hit to right-center field, giving the Twins a 2-0 lead.

Minnesota left the bases loaded in the fourth, but Bartlett scored on Justin Morneau's sacrifice fly in the fifth to make it 3-0.

Royals starter Gil Meche (7-12) dropped his sixth straight decision and has gone eight starts without a win despite allowing just two earned runs in five of those outings. After giving up two runs and seven hits in his first start against the Twins this season, Meche allowed three runs and seven hits and three walks with three strikeouts in seven innings in this one.

"What are you going to do?" Meche asked. "As a pitcher, you respect how good a guy is throwing the game. Obviously, you want to win. You don't see too many games pitched like that in this league too often. Nothing else to do but tip your cap to them and go after them in another five days."

Baker struck out five straight after David DeJesus led off the game with a flyout and had six strikeouts after three innings.

Ross Gload nearly had a line-drive single with two outs in the fourth, but after appearing to lose the ball momentarily, Minnesota center fielder Torii Hunter made the catch while falling down. Billy Butler hit a deep fly ball to left to lead off the fifth, but it played easily by Rondell White.

Baker cruised from there, with only one ball leaving the infield through eight innings. Including his July 30th outing against the Royals in which he allowed one run and two hits in eight innings, Baker had retired 38 consecutive Kansas City hitters before Buck's ninth-inning walk.

Baker claimed nerves were not a factor in the ninth.

"I wasn't nervous, to be honest with you," Baker said. "I know I pitched a great game, even if it didn't work out."

Redmond hit an RBI single and White drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning off reliever Ryan Braun to provide the final margin.

Redmond went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored, improving his average to .419 in eight games against the Royals this season. Michael Cuddyer was 3-for-4 with a run.






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  • AL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    KANSAS CITY 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
    MINNESOTA 0 0 2 0 1 0 0 2 x 5 10 0 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: KAN - GIL MECHE, RYAN BRAUN (8TH) AND JOHN BUCK
    MIN - SCOTT BAKER AND MIKE REDMOND

    HOME RUNS: KAN - NONE
    MIN - NONE

    Aug 31 10:26 PM
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    AT MINNESOTA - SCORING UPDATE (2ND GAME)
    SACRIFICE FLY BY RONDELL WHITE SCORED JASON KUBEL.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, M REDMOND ON FIRST, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: KANSAS CITY 0
    MINNESOTA 5 BOTTOM, 8TH
    DUE UP FOR MINNESOTA: N PUNTO (.197, 1-FOR-3)

    Royals vs. TwinsAug 31 10:11 PM


  • AL
    AT MINNESOTA - SCORING UPDATE (2ND GAME)
    SINGLE BY MIKE REDMOND SCORED MICHAEL CUDDYER.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, M REDMOND ON FIRST, J KUBEL ON THIRD, 0 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: KANSAS CITY 0
    MINNESOTA 4 BOTTOM, 8TH
    DUE UP FOR MINNESOTA: R WHITE (.156, 0-FOR-2, BB)

    Royals vs. TwinsAug 31 10:10 PM
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    AT MINNESOTA - SCORING UPDATE (2ND GAME)
    SACRIFICE FLY BY JUSTIN MORNEAU SCORED JASON BARTLETT.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, T HUNTER ON FIRST, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: KANSAS CITY 0
    MINNESOTA 3 BOTTOM, 5TH
    DUE UP FOR MINNESOTA: M CUDDYER (.277, 1-FOR-2)

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  • AL
    AT MINNESOTA - SCORING UPDATE (2ND GAME)
    SINGLE BY JASON BARTLETT SCORED MIKE REDMOND AND NICK
    PUNTO.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, J BARTLETT ON FIRST, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: KANSAS CITY 0
    MINNESOTA 2 BOTTOM, 3RD
    DUE UP FOR MINNESOTA: T HUNTER (.296, 0-FOR-1)

    Royals vs. TwinsAug 31 8:53 PM