Baseball / Sports

San Francisco Giants second baseman Brandon Hicks throws the ball to first base against the Minnesota Twins in the fifth inning at AT&T Park in San Francisco on Saturday, May 24, 2014. (Josie Lepe/Bay Area News Group/MCT)

Giants edge punchless Twins, 2-1

SAN FRANCISCO -- If the Minnesota Twins' season was a pulp-comic serial, today's panel would have Josh Willingham and Oswaldo Arcia spotting a signal in the sky, pulling on their uniforms and grabbing their bats. Hurry home, guys, the Twins offense needs a rescue.

Those power threats, missing from the lineup since the season's first week, are expected to rejoin the lineup Monday, and the infusion of strength can't come soon enough. The Twins' West Coast trip has gradually ground down into something straight out of nearby Silicon Valley: Nothing but zeros and ones. The Twins have played 36 innings so far in San Diego and here at AT&T Park, and in only one of them have they managed a two-run outburst.

Saturday night's four-hit offensive slumber was the most distressing, since it wasted a brilliant start by Sam Deduno, the Twins' own purveyor of zeros and ones. He made one mistake, which Pablo Sandoval deposited into the left-center seats, and Brian Dozier made a throwing miscue that cost Deduno another run. But the Dominican righthander was otherwise a complete mystery to the Giants -- who cruised to a 2-1 victory over the Twins anyway.

Ryan Vogelsong, who has been getting stronger as the season goes along, made the power outage in the Twins lineup obvious all night, giving up fly ball after fly ball, but none of them anywhere near deep enough to reach the seats or the bay beyond. The Twins never collected more than one hit in an inning, only twice moved a runner as far as third base and went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position, bringing them to 0-for-14 here and 2-for-21 four games into a five-game road trip that ends Sunday.

The Twins hit three home runs at San Diego, all of them solo shots, but just one here against the team with the best record in the NL -- a line-drive bullet by Josmil Pinto that just cleared the left-field wall next to the foul pole. Pinto's blast, off closer Sergio Romo to start the ninth, made the sellout crowd anxious, but only for the handful of pitches it took Romo to retire the next three hitters.

Willingham and Arcia, presumably, can change that dynamic.

"We'd like to see what it's like having some pop in the lineup again," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "These two guys can both hit the ball a long way, so it'll be nice to get them back in there."

Have to think Deduno would agree. The Dominican righthander has made four starts this season, and the Twins have scored a total of four runs while he is in the game -- all of them last week against Seattle, his lone victory. Deduno used his usual mix of a guess-where-it's-going fastballs with an increasing number of curveballs, and the Giants could do nothing but beat them into the ground -- when they made contact.

Deduno recorded 17 outs -- four on strikeouts and 10 via ground balls. He reduced his ERA as a starter to 3.38 on the season -- only Phil Hughes has been better in the rotation -- and would have been even better if not for a hiccup by the defense behind him.

Angel Pagan led off the sixth with a single and Deduno walked Hunter Pence, but he then induced Buster Posey to hit a routine double-play ball to shortstop Eduardo Escobar. But Dozier's relay at second was wild and pulled Joe Mauer off first base, giving the Giants an extra out. Sandoval quickly cashed it in, golfing a fly ball to right that would have been the inning's third out -- but instead was a sacrifice fly that drove Pagan home with an insurance run.

The run became huge when Pinto connected, especially since the Twins' couldn't manage any more runs from their suddenly run-starved offense. Willingham and Arcia, grab your capes.

(c)2014 Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

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Distributed by MCT Information Services

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