An ailing, flailing Twins lineup took another hit over the past two series when shortstop Juan Castro and right fielder Jacque Jones were sidelined with injuries.
Castro, the Twins' best fielding infielder, was placed on the DL Saturday because of a patella tendon strain in his left knee suffered running the bases in Seattle on Wednesday.
Jones, the team's top run producer, hasn't played since that Wednesday game, either, because of an oblique strain on his lower right side.
The Twins entered the week anticipating they can keep Jones off the DL, which is significantly good news for a team with the worst batting average in the majors since the all-star break. But the lefty hitting Jones still was expected to miss at least Monday's series opener against the major-league front-running Chicago White Sox -- and possibly the whole series.
If that's the case, it would put Jones out for a full week.
Throughout most of the weekend series at Oakland in which the Twins scored just five runs and hit just .203, manager Gardenhire had just two moves off the bench available to him because he was carrying both Castro and Jones on the active roster.
"It's not the time of year to play short or the teams to play against to play short," Gardenhire said.
The Twins won the Oakland series despite the shortcomings, because of exceptional pitching performances from LHP Johan Santana on Friday (1-0 victory) and RHP Carlos Silva on Sunday (2-1 victory).
NOTES, QUOTESAlready the worst-hitting and lowest-scoring team in the American League since the all-star break, the Twins got worse Friday when they learned their top run producer, RF Jacque Jones, along with SS Juan Castro might face DL time with injuries that are expected to sideline them at least through the weekend.
Jones, who leads the team with 17 home runs and 57 runs batted in, suffered an oblique strain to his right side during an at-bat in Wednesday's 14-inning victory at Seattle, and Castro suffered a patella strain in his left knee later in the 10th inning of the same game.
Both were held out of pregame activity before Friday's game and were to be held out of Saturday's pregame work as well.
And both could wind up on the disabled list by the time the team heads to Chicago for a three-game series against the White Sox starting Monday.
"You win a 14-inning game and lose two players. That's tough," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "And it's not like I can just DL them. You've got to give them a look for a couple of days."
The team already is playing without CF Torii Hunter, who led the team in homers and RBIs when he broke his ankle July 29.
"It's not the time of year to play short or the teams to play against to play short," Gardenhire said, referring to the A.L. West-leading Athletics and the A.L. Central-leading White Sox.
The injuries meant the Twins had just three players on the bench for Friday's game -- and for practical purposes two, because one was backup C Mike Redmond, who can't be used without risking a catching crisis with even a minor injury. Both extra players are rookies: 1B/3B Terry Tiffee and SS Jason Bartlett.When OF Lew Ford was pulled from the lineup Tuesday night in Seattle, it said as much about the fallen state of a team that was considered a playoff favorite when the season started as it did about Ford and his fifth-inning bunt.
Ford, who was also out of the lineup Wednesday, bunted poorly enough after the first two batters of the inning reached base in a scoreless game that rookie RHP Felix Hernandez was able to throw out the lead runner on the play, squandering the Twins' lone, best scoring chance in a game they lost 1-0.
That Ford had issues with the play, prompting manager Ron Gardenhire to have words with him afterward merely served to underscore the biggest issue facing a team that has plummeted out of contention since the All-Star break.
It's about youth, confidence, playing smart at the major league level and understanding how to accomplish the basics.
"It's not that they're not trying," Gardenhire said of his youthful lineup. "They just haven't got it yet."
Team officials tried to protect Ford, using a bothersome hip flexor as a contributing factor to the benching. But it's clear it had far more to do with Tuesday's play and his reaction to it.
"It's been addressed. We discussed it," Gardenhire said. "We took care of it."
"The most important thing is it's over with," Ford said.
But not so the growing pains of a Twins' season that has come to be defined by one-run losses and countless missed scoring chances.LHP Johan Santana tied his career low-hit game Friday night with a three-hit, 1-0 shutout of the Oakland A's, his third career shutout and second of the season. Santana (11-6) struck out nine and walked one, retiring 26 of the first 28 batters he faced -- including 20 straight -- until DH Mark Kotsay's two-out double in the ninth.Santana is one of only three Twins starting pitchers to record a victory since the All-Star break, and he has four. The two others, RHP Scott Baker (who returned to the minors after his lone post-break spot start) and RHP Brad Radke have one each. Santana is 4-1 with a 1.98 ERA since the break -- after going 13-0, 1.21, post-break last year. 3B Michael Cuddyer returned to the starting lineup Friday for the first time since leaving the Aug. 7 game with a knee strain. The knee is not 100 percent, he said, and when asked for a percentage, he smiled and said, "It's fine. It's good enough to play."OF Lew Ford returned to the starting lineup Friday for the first time since a discipline-related benching in Seattle Tuesday night and reached base three times against Oakland RHP Dan Haren, who threw a two-hitter. Ford wound up scoring the only run of the game after leading off the fifth inning with a walk.The Twins have helped establish season-record fast-paced games at two different ballparks in their past three games, helping the Mariners set a six-year Safeco Field record of 2:01 game time on Tuesday, then going one minute faster in Oakland Friday for a McAfee Coliseum season-quick 2:00 game time (beating the previous season-low by nine minutes).The Twins took two of three at Oakland over the weekend, making it their first road series victory since June 7-9 in Arizona.
BY THE NUMBERS: 8 -- Consecutive winless road series for the Twins until beating the red-hot Oakland A's two of three over the weekend in Oakland. Their previous series win was June 7-9 at Arizona.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Two win two out of three here and score only five runs in the series -- that's pretty good." -- Manager Ron Gardenhire, after the Twins slowed down the hottest team in baseball, winning two of three at Oakland despite being outscored 6-5 in the series -- winning a 1-0 game Friday and 2-1 Sunday after being one-hit through eight.
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