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Lighter Hernandez returns to knock off Twinkies

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- If Runelvys Hernandez keeps pitching like this, the fat jokes will vanish quicker than the weight he dropped to get back to the major leagues.

The right-hander, who was banished to the minors when he reported to spring training overweight and out of shape, allowed only two baserunners in seven sharp innings Wednesday night, leading Kansas City over Minnesota 3-1 in his first start.

Still hefty at around 263 pounds, Hernandez was in command from start to finish in his first win since last July. He struck out one, did not walk a batter and refused to take questions about his weight.

"Everybody knows I can pitch here," he said. "I don't take it personal. It was my fault. Now I want to keep doing my job. I showed today I'm better. I want to say thank you to all the people who tried to support me. I'm going to try to be healthy and help my team.'

Fans and talk show hosts had given the 6-foot-1 Hernandez a merciless ribbing, joking about jelly doughnuts and double bacon cheeseburgers and wondering why he wasn't "hungry for a win."

"I think when you're in the public eye you unfortunately have to get that kind of stupidity," Royals manager Buddy Bell said. "But that's the way it is. You just live with it and move on."

Bell admitted, however, that Hernandez was more effective than he had dared hope.

"Seven innings, two hits, no walks -- you don't expect that out of anybody, really, not even a Cy Young winner," he said. "He looks pretty slim right now, huh?"

The right-hander reported to spring training at 280 pounds, and the team said he's dropped 17 since. Kansas City decided on March 27 that he should go on the disabled list and report to Triple-A Omaha for a rehabilitation assignment after he allowed nine runs in 12 innings in spring training with five homers and 10 walks.

He was 1-2 with a 10.67 ERA at Triple-A before the Royals brought him back this week.

Shannon Stewart singled leading off the game, and Hernandez then retired 13 straight until Justin Morneau, breaking an 0-for-19 skid, homered in the fifth.

Hernandez, who turns 28 Thursday, missed the 2004 season after elbow ligament replacement surgery, then was 8-14 with a 5.52 ERA last year -- not winning a game after July 22.

"He used his breaking ball," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He had a good changeup, located his fastball. He was ahead of hitters and forcing the issue."

Elmer Dessens and Ambiorix Burgos completed the four-hitter, with Burgos getting his second save in three chances.

Scott Baker (1-2) gave up three runs and seven hits in seven innings, striking out six and walking none.

Mark Grudzielanek tripled leading off the fourth inning and scored on an infield grounder by Reggie Sanders, who stranded eight runners Tuesday night when the Royals left 14 on.

Matt Stairs, hitless in nine at-bats this season, had an RBI double for a 2-1 lead in the sixth and scored on a single by Emil Brown.

Hernandez's teammates had been supportive, but not entirely sympathetic after he came to camp.

"It was his own fault," Stairs said. "He came in overweight and out of shape. He's worked hard the last seven weeks. But he's to blame. Maybe it's a learning experience for him. Maybe he realizes now the big leagues are not easy. You have to work at it to maintain success."

Notes

  • Kansas City 1B Doug Mientkiewicz made a standout play in the fifth, diving to his right and leaving his feet to stare Torii Hunter's liner. As the sparse crowd of 9,188 applauded, Hunter grinned and pointed to his former teammate.
  • The Twins are the first team since the 1951 Boston Red Sox to come from behind in each of their first eight wins.
  • Royals DH Mike Sweeney was given the night off.
  • Kansas City designated RHP Joe Nelson for assignment to clear a roster spot for Hernandez.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Runelvys Hernandez earns the second win by a K.C. starter, allowing just two runners through seven.  (AP)
Runelvys Hernandez earns the second win by a K.C. starter, allowing just two runners through seven. (AP)

Players of the Game
Kansas City

R. Hernandez
IP 7.0
H 2
ER 1
BB 0
K 1
Minnesota

J. Morneau
AB 3
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 1
 
Minnesota Twins
Shannon Stewart, LF4010000 .328
Luis Castillo, 2B4000001 .345
Joe Mauer, C4010001 .317
Rondell White, DH4000012 .147
Torii Hunter, CF3000000 .208
Justin Morneau, 1B3111000 .208
Tony Batista, 3B3000010 .254
Lew Ford, RF3010000 .256
Juan Castro, SS2000000 .278
   a- Ruben Sierra, PH1000011 .250
    Nick Punto, SS0000000 .273
Totals31141035 
a-struck out for Castro in the 8th
Batting
HR - Justin Morneau (5, Ru. Hernandez)
RBI - Justin Morneau (15)
Team LOB - 3
Minnesota Twins
Scott Baker (L,1-2) 7733060 3.47
Jesse Crain 1100020 7.84
Pitches-Strikes - Scott Baker 95-66, Jesse Crain 16-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Scott Baker 7-7
Batters Faced - Scott Baker 27, Jesse Crain 4
Kansas City Royals
Shane Costa, CF4010010 .298
Mark Grudzielanek, 2B4230011 .319
Reggie Sanders, RF4001022 .238
Matt Stairs, DH4111001 .091
Emil Brown, LF3011010 .215
Doug Mientkiewicz, 1B3010001 .250
Mark Teahen, 3B3010001 .226
Angel Berroa, SS3000010 .299
Paul Bako, C3000021 .118
Totals31383087 
Batting
2B - Matt Stairs (1, Baker)
3B - Mark Grudzielanek (2, Baker)
RBI - Reggie Sanders (12), Matt Stairs (1), Emil Brown (10)
2-OUT RBI - Matt Stairs (1), Emil Brown (4)
SB - Mark Teahen (2, 2nd base off Baker/Mauer)
CS - Mark Grudzielanek (1, 2nd base by Baker/Mauer)
Team LOB - 4
Kansas City Royals
Runelvys Hernandez (W,1-0) 7211011 1.29
Elmer Dessens (H,4) 1100010 2.84
Ambiorix Burgos (S,2) 1100010 1.93
WP - Runelvys Hernandez (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Runelvys Hernandez 82-53, Elmer Dessens 13-8, Ambiorix Burgos 18-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Runelvys Hernandez 12-8, Ambiorix Burgos 1-1
Batters Faced - Runelvys Hernandez 23, Elmer Dessens 4, Ambiorix Burgos 4
Game Information
Attendance - 9188
Game Time - 2:07
Temperature - 54
Umpires - Home - Charlie Reliford, First Base - Larry Vanover, Second Base - Greg Gibson, Third Base - Paul Nauert