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Twins have their way with junkballer

SEATTLE - It's going to be endlessly debated in Minnesota within a few years, so we might as well start doing the algebra now: How does a baseball carry in the great outdoors, as opposed to inside a dome?...

SEATTLE - It's going to be endlessly debated in Minnesota within a few years, so we might as well start doing the algebra now: How does a baseball carry in the great outdoors, as opposed to inside a dome?

And if we're accepting the Twins' 11-2 victory Tuesday night over Seattle as scientific evidence, a victory begun in the open air and concluded under a big gray roof, even Albert Einstein would certify one theory as self-evident as e=mc2.

A batted ball travels very far indeed when thrown by Jeff Weaver.

The Mariners' well-traveled (and frequently well-battered) right-hander surrendered seven extra-base hits, including Torii Hunter's seventh career grand slam, in six shaky innings. All those cannon shots - and ultimately, a team record-tying eight doubles - made Ramon Ortiz's third victory of the season a simple proposition, a matter of merely forcing Seattle to hit the ball toward Luis Rodriguez.

Don't argue, it worked.

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Yes, the Twins' fill-in third baseman, the guy whose playing time is limited by his reputation for having the range of a small appliance, was Ortiz's designated shot blocker against the Mariners. In the lineup mainly because Nick Punto's left ankle is still a little sore, Rodriguez scooped, speared and snatched ground ball after ground ball and turned them into routine outs. At one point, he recorded an assist on five consecutive batters.

Weaver would have liked some of that support, but it's hard to come by when the opposition keeps bouncing breaking pitches off the outfield walls or slicing them into the corners.

That's what Jason Tyner did, adapting nicely to Punto's normal two-slot in the order by posting his second two-double game in three outings. Same for Joe Mauer, who spiced up his second career three-double game with a sacrifice bunt.

And then there was Hunter, who reacted to Weaver's intentional walk to Justin Morneau by redirecting a slow-slower-slowest changeup 394 feet in the opposite direction. Hunter's first grand slam since last June opened a 7-1 lead that Ortiz wasn't going to give back, and probably made the Mariners wonder about the $8.3 million gamble they took on the fading junkballer. Weaver is 0-2 after consecutive seven-run starts, though at least he cut his earned-run average in half this time - to 15.75.

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