Four homers lift Twins to first series sweep
Bottom of the order key behind Diamond in finishing off White Sox
MINNEAPOLIS -- It had been quite some time since the Twins had completed a three-game sweep, and even longer since a sweep of the rival White Sox.
But the Twins were able to do it by displaying impressive power, launching four homers off left-hander John Danks to hand the White Sox an 8-4 loss on Thursday afternoon and complete a three-game sweep at Target Field.
Oswaldo Arcia, Brian Dozier, Clete Thomas and Eduardo Escobar all homered to help the Twins to their first three-game sweep since July 27-29, 2012, against the Indians. It was also their first three-game sweep over the White Sox since Sept. 14-16, 2010, at U.S. Cellular Field.
It also marked the first time in club history that Minnesota received homers from its No. 7-8-9 and leadoff hitters in a game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
"It was a nice sweep there," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Some good things happened with the bottom of the order coming up with some big ones, and Dozier, too, with another one to get us to an early lead. So we kind of hung on from there."
The Twins entered the game with the second-fewest homers in the American League, but they used the humidity to their advantage to match a season high in home runs.
Arcia started it off with a solo shot in the second off Danks, and Dozier followed up with a two-run blast just three batters later. It was the third homer in four games for Dozier, who also launched a three-run blast against the White Sox on Wednesday.
"It always helps when everyone in the lineup is hitting, 1 through 9," Dozier said. "Everything is flowing really well right now. I'm not missing balls over the plate."
But the Twins weren't done, as Thomas and Escobar hit back-to-back homers with one out in the fourth inning. It was the first homer of the year for Thomas and the third for Escobar.
Minnesota tacked on another run in the fifth on an RBI single from Arcia to score Trevor Plouffe, who singled and reached second on a wild pitch from Danks. It was the final frame for Danks, who gave up six runs on 12 hits over five innings.
"You just have to tip your hat on them hitting pitches that you're supposed to hit," Danks said. "I just felt like the few times I was able to get ahead, I wasn't able to put them away. I didn't have maybe what I needed to put them away, but nonetheless, there's no reason for me to throw the ball where I did."
The offense backed left-hander Scott Diamond, who cruised until running into trouble in the sixth inning. Diamond gave up an unearned run in the fourth as a result of a throwing error from Plouffe with the bases loaded and two outs, but it was the only run the lefty gave up until the sixth.
The White Sox showed off their power that inning, with Paul Konerko hitting a two-run blast and Adam Dunn smacking a solo shot just four pitches later. Diamond exited after just 5 1/3 innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on seven hits and a walk with two strikeouts, but he still picked up the win.
"Overall, I'm pretty happy with the way it went," Diamond said. "The numbers don't look the best, but I'm happy with how I progressed through the game."
After Diamond departed, Minnesota tacked on two insurance runs in the sixth against Chicago reliever Matt Lindstrom on a single from Justin Morneau with the bases loaded.
Relievers Anthony Swarzak, Casey Fien and Jared Burton combined to close it out for the Twins, but it got dicey in the ninth inning.
Burton got Hector Gimenez to hit a shallow pop fly to left field that should've ended the game, but Arcia lost it in the sun for a two-out double. Alejandro De Aza then followed with a walk before Alexei Ramirez hit a hard grounder to Plouffe at third for an infield single.
It set the stage for Alex Rios with a chance to tie the game with a grand slam, but his fly ball to deep left field was caught at the warning track by Arcia.
"I didn't think he got it, because it made a funny sound off the bat," Gardenhire said. "It sounded like he got it off the end of the bat, but I'm not positive."
With the sweep, the Twins finished their homestand with a 6-3 record, with series wins over the Phillies and White Sox.
"It was a good sweep and a good homestand," Gardenhire said. "Now we have to go on the road to Cleveland, another very good team, and then Miami. Our goal was to come home and win, and we had a pretty decent homestand."