MINNEAPOLIS -- With all those hits Livan Hernandez has given up and Francisco Liriano waiting impatiently in the minors, the natural assumption is that the Minnesota Twins might soon make a change in their rotation.
The Twins aren't listening to the hubbub. They're too busy admiring their 14-7 record when Hernandez starts.
Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau each went deep and drove in eight runs between them, as the Twins heaped four home runs on their usual small-ball approach to beat the Texas Rangers 14-2 on Saturday night.
"I come back in the second half and try to do something good," said Hernandez (10-6), who proudly pointed to his 10th double-digit victory total in 12 seasons after a 16-hit barrage by the home team.
He was flawless for seven innings and matched his season low of five hits allowed against the highest-scoring team in the majors.
"I think sometimes you've just got to give the guy who's out there on the mound credit for making the right pitch at the right time in the ballgame," Texas manager Ron Washington said.
Delmon Young hit a solo shot, too, to start a six-run sixth inning that ruined Rangers starter Matt Harrison's already-deteriorating night. Right after Mauer's two-run double against reliever Dustin Nippert, Morneau -- the reigning All-Star Home Run Derby champ -- crushed a 1-1 pitch into the seat stacks above right field for his 15th homer and a 12-2 advantage for the surging Twins.
Brian Buscher added a two-run home run in the seventh to push the lead to a dozen and give Minnesota a 23-7 record since mid-June, but the hits came in all shapes and sizes.
Morneau also hit a three-run double, following an intentional walk to Mauer, and now has 73 RBI. Young had three hits and two RBI to raise his average above .300. Carlos Gomez doubled twice, once by sneaking into second when Texas left fielder David Murphy lazily returned his chopper to the infield. Even backup catcher Mike Redmond, who relieved Mauer for the last two innings, contributed a bouncing single over the mound after a 14-pitch at-bat in the eighth.
Harrison (1-1) threw 84 pitches and didn't get any outs in the sixth. He was tagged for nine hits, eight runs and three walks without a strikeout. After winning his major league debut with seven innings and only five hits and two runs on July 8, Harrison has been hit hard in his last two starts.
Perhaps Vicente Padilla can put the Texas rotation back in a better place. He was scheduled to be activated from the 15-day disabled list and pitch on Sunday afternoon.
The biggest problem for the Rangers, post-break, has been a sudden disappearance of their mighty offense. They had four regulars in the All-Star Game, but they've managed only eight hits in the last two games.
"It's two games, guys. There's no panic here," said second baseman Ian Kinsler.
Hernandez's performance down the stretch will surely be scrutinized, with Liriano looming in upstate New York. The prized left-hander's comeback from elbow surgery is essentially complete, and agent Greg Genske -- who also represents Hernandez - asked the union to make sure Minnesota is not keeping him in the minors to save money. Liriano is 7-0 with a 2.73 ERA over his last nine starts for Triple-A Rochester.
"He's one of my friends, but the situation is not easy right now," Hernandez said, adding: "I think nothing is going to happen, because everybody is pitching good."
None of the four young guys in the rotation have given any reason to be demoted lately, so Hernandez and his majors-most 178 hits allowed -- in less than 128 innings -- could make sense to trade. The Twins love his wisdom and leadership of the inexperienced staff, though, and have offered no hint that his place is insecure.
The wily old Cuban showed why on Saturday, retiring 12 straight batters on the highest-scoring team in the majors after Chris Davis hit a two-out, two-strike, two-run homer in the second inning to give the Rangers a brief 2-1 lead.
"He knows how to pitch," Ron Gardenhire said.