Morneau reaches milestone as Twins' bats erupt

Morneau reaches milestone as Twins' bats erupt

Morneau reaches milestone as Twins' bats erupt
CLEVELAND -- The No. 10 was featured prominently on Monday night at Progressive Field but it was another number that made it even more special for Justin Morneau.

The Twins used a 10-run inning to help give rookie left-hander Scott Diamond his 10th victory while handing the Indians their 10th straight loss with a 14-3 win.

But for Morneau, the big number was 200, as the first baseman homered twice to reach the 200-home run plateau. He became the seventh Twins player to reach that mark and just the fourth Canadian-born player to reach the milestone.

And he said he was well aware of what he had accomplished, as he was in reach of the milestone back in 2010 before suffering a season-ending concussion in July that also hampered him last season, when he hit just four homers.

"I was aware in 2010, but if it had happened that year, or early the next year, I probably don't have appreciated it as much as I do right now," said Morneau, who was presented with the ball from his 200th homer after the game. "It's one of those things where you say, 'Oh, it's a nice number.' There are quite a few guys in the history of the game that have done it. But at the same time, if you had asked me at some point last year if I would have even got to here, I wouldn't have been able to tell you for sure, so it's one of those things I'm able to appreciate."

His first homer was part of a 10-run second that tied for the second-most runs scored in a single frame in franchise history. Minnesota has scored 11 runs in an inning four times in its history, with the last time coming on May 20, 1994.

"We've actually been swinging the bats pretty good," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We've been able to put some innings like that together. Hitting is contagious like everything is. So tonight was one of those nights. Incredible to score 10 runs like that."

Josh Willingham started it off with a solo shot off right-hander Drew McAllister before Morneau launched his first blast of the night. Ryan Doumit followed with a double before Jamey Carroll drew a two-out walk.

Second baseman Jason Kipnis then made a crucial error, as his throw to first base pulled Carlos Santana off the bag and allowed Doumit to score from third. The Twins capitalized on the error in a big way, as they ended up tallying eight unearned runs.

After the error, Ben Revere promptly added an RBI single -- extending his hitting streak to 20 games -- before Joe Mauer brought home two runs with a double. Willingham walked before Morneau came through with his second hit of the inning, an RBI single. Doumit capped it off with a three-run homer off reliever Josh Tomlin to mark the first time the Twins had three homers in an inning since Aug. 10, 2010, when Mauer, Jim Thome and J.J. Hardy homered against the White Sox.

"I asked one of my coaches to pinch me," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "I couldn't believe what was happening. Everything just, boom, happened. Yeah, it was kind of shocking."

Morneau crushed his second homer of the night in the fourth off Tomlin for his 15th blast of the year. It was also Morneau's 17th career multi-homer game.

"It was a big night for him," Diamond said. "I'm really happy for him. He's the greatest guy. He's really mentored me with a lot of things. I'm in utter joy right now."

The Twins later added a run in the sixth on an RBI double from Mauer to score Revere, who singled with one out.

The offensive outburst was more than enough for Diamond, who hurled his team-leading 12th quality start of the year. He surrendered three runs (two earned) on seven hits and a walk over seven innings to become the club's first 10-game winner this season, and their first since 2010.

The Indians were actually the first to score, as an error by second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka in the first inning led to a run scoring on a double play hit by Santana. Santana later smacked a two-run homer in the sixth for his 12th homer of the year.

"It's big," Diamond said of win No. 10. "I'm pretty excited about it. It's a big milestone in my career, but it doesn't mean it stops here. It's exciting and stuff because it's double digits, but I just want to keep working from here. I know if I want to stick, I have to continue to work, so that's what I'm focused on."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.