MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins finally are showing signs of pitching to their potential.
Brad Radke pitched his best game of the season, allowing four hits in seven innings to lead the Twins over the reeling Kansas City Royals 6-1 Wednesday night.
“I’ve been playing this game a long time,” he said. “I know what I have to do out there.”
Radke (3-3), coming off the poorest April of his major league career, struck out seven and walked none, lowering his ERA from 8.89 to 7.29. When he fanned Angel Berroa on a changeup in the fourth, Berroa slammed his bat against the ground in frustration, breaking it.
After seven strong innings by Johan Santana on Tuesday, Radke helped Minnesota lower its ERA to 5.94, still the highest in the major leagues.
“The big thing is we got a couple good starts in a row now,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Hopefully we can continue that. That’s how we’re going to win ballgames, is by our starters. We know that.”
Kansas City, on its second losing streak this season of six games or more, is 0-12 on the road this year, one shy of the record for most consecutive road losses at the start of a season, set by the 1969 Houston Astros and 1988 Baltimore Orioles.
The Royals, a major league-worst 5-20, have lost a team record 13 straight road games dating to last year. They are only the sixth team since 1900 and the fourth in the last 70 years to lose their first 12 road games.
“We’re not going to hit tomorrow,” Royals manager Buddy Bell said, looking ahead to batting practice before Thursday’s game. “We’ve been doing a lot of cage work recently for obvious reasons, and we’re going to try and mix it up a little bit and do whatever we can to try and turn this thing around.”
Radke allowed runners in each of the first three innings, then retired 11 in a row before Matt Stairs led off the seventh with his first home run of the year. Radke has given up a home run in 10 straight games.
“He had guys off balance,” Hunter said. “That’s the Brad Radke I know.”
Joe Mays (0-4) gave up six runs, two earned, and eight hits in 3 1/3 innings against his former team. Minnesota scored four unearned runs in the third after Rondell White’s sharp leadoff grounder bounced off Berroa’s glove at shortstop and into left field for a two-base error.
Juan Castro reached on an infield single, Shannon Stewart singled for a 1-0 lead, Joe Mauer hit an RBI groundout and Torii Hunter connected on the next pitch for a 427-foot, two-run home run to center.
“It seemed like when I made a good pitch, they’d beat a couple of them into the ... ground and get base hits off of them,” said Mays, whose ERA dropped from 11.07 to 10.27. “I missed my spot horribly against Stewart when hit that double, and I got taken out. It was just a matter of trying to make as many quality pitches as I could, and I’m the one that made more mistakes than the other team.”
Stewart chased Mays with an RBI double in the fourth, and Mauer hit a run-scoring double off Jimmy Gobble.