MINNEAPOLIS — Carlos Silva usually sleeps until 1 p.m. when he’s pitching later that night, but trade-deadline anxiety had him up four hours earlier to turn on the television for updates.
Backed by Torii Hunter’s homer, Silva fought through the distraction and cruised through eight innings to help the Minnesota Twins win their fourth straight, 5-3 over the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night.
“No matter what’s going on off the field, we’re out there trying to win,” Hunter said. “We’re trying to get the job done. We’re not out there sad.”
After second baseman Luis Castillo was traded the day before, players hoped the team would acquire a hitter to boost the lineup. No deals were made, although Silva, Hunter and a few others were relieved that they weren’t traded away themselves.
“We need to put that on the side and play the game,” Silva said. “We need to play with more heart and less pressure, you know?”
Hunter’s homer, his 22nd, led off the second against Jorge De La Rosa (8-11). Three hits and two errors later, the Twins had a 4-0 lead.
That proved to be plenty of support for Silva (9-11), who surrendered solo home runs to Jason LaRue in the third inning and Jason Smith in the eighth — but no walks and just seven hits.
“You give ‘em something to work with, the veterans especially know how to throw the ball over the plate,” said manager Ron Gardenhire, who watched his team draw within five games of Cleveland in the AL wild-card race.
Silva struck out three and raised his record after the All-Star break to 3-1. He retired 13 of the last 15 batters he faced, turning it over to Joe Nathan for the ninth. Nathan notched his 24th save in 26 attempts despite allowing a leadoff homer to Mark Grudzielanek.
The Royals finished their second straight winning month and are 28-24 since June 1, but they’ve fallen flat in the first two games of this four-game series _ a frustrating follow-up to the four-game winning streak they brought to Minnesota.
Manager Buddy Bell blamed a passive approach at the plate.
“For whatever reason — I can’t answer why — we haven’t swung the bats the way we have the last four days,” Smith said.
Grudzielanek had three hits, but made an error and was caught stealing twice. DeLaRosa had a chance to turn a double play after Hunter’s homer, but Grudzielanek’s relay throw from second base was well wide to allow Jeff Cirillo to advance _ setting up the big inning.
“I think De La Rosa deserved better,” Bell said. “He should’ve gotten out of there with one or two at the most.”
Lew Ford drove him in with a single, and LaRue dropped the throw home for the second error of the inning that let Ford move up to second base. Alexi Casilla drove him in with a single, and Jason Bartlett drove Casilla in with a double.
“That was the end of the game,” said De La Rosa, who gave up eight hits and two walks.
The Twins added a fifth run against De La Rosa in the fourth when Ford doubled, Casilla reached on an infield single, and Jason Tyner grounded into a double play that allowed Ford to jog home.
Hunter nearly hit his second homer of the night in the third inning, but Royals center fielder David DeJesus took it away with a leaping catch over the wall.
“Sensational,” Bell said.
“Usually you see Torii making that play.”
Hunter waved his hand in frustration and pointed with respect toward DeJesus, who smiled back and hid his face behind his glove. Hunter was torn, expressing obvious disappointment — but remembering what his emotion ultimately meant.
“Now I know how the guys feel running around the bases when I take one away,” Hunter said.