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Polanco stays red hot, just when Twins need it

MLB.com @RhettBollinger

MINNEAPOLIS -- Heading into the doubleheader against the White Sox on Aug. 21, Jorge Polanco had been hot in August, but had only three homers on the year in 94 games.

But the switch-hitting shortstop went on to homer in four straight games in Chicago, and Polanco continued to torment the White Sox in the series opener on Tuesday, recording his first career multihomer game by homering from both sides of the plate to lead the Twins to a 6-4 win at Target Field. Polanco became just the fifth Twins player to accomplish the feat, joining Roy Smalley, Chili Davis, Ryan Doumit and Kennys Vargas.

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MINNEAPOLIS -- Heading into the doubleheader against the White Sox on Aug. 21, Jorge Polanco had been hot in August, but had only three homers on the year in 94 games.

But the switch-hitting shortstop went on to homer in four straight games in Chicago, and Polanco continued to torment the White Sox in the series opener on Tuesday, recording his first career multihomer game by homering from both sides of the plate to lead the Twins to a 6-4 win at Target Field. Polanco became just the fifth Twins player to accomplish the feat, joining Roy Smalley, Chili Davis, Ryan Doumit and Kennys Vargas.

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"Not many guys in this franchise have homered from both sides, so that was impressive," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "As of late, he's been an important part of our team with the way he's swinging the bat and playing defense."

Polanco now has five homers over his last nine games -- all against Chicago -- and seven of his nine homers this year are against the White Sox. Polanco said he's not sure why he's had so much success against the South Siders, but he feels like his improved plate discipline has helped him more than anything.

"I'm hitting the ball pretty good," Polanco said. "I'm trying to hit my pitch and eliminate swinging at bad pitches. I think it's going well. I don't think it's my swing. I think it's my mentality."

With his improved approach, Polanco is hitting .387/.424/.720 with six homers and 22 RBIs in 25 games in August. His power has helped fill the void left by Miguel Sano's shin injury, and Molitor said sometimes it's tough to explain where it comes from.

• Sano yet to begin baseball activities

"Those surges are a little bit unpredictable from a guy you don't expect to hit a lot of home runs," Molitor said. "But sometimes, you just get that feel and you get a pitch and you can drive it."

Molitor also noticed that Polanco has been making better in-game adjustments. On Tuesday, he struck out in his first at-bat against James Shields and was frustrated by his approach. But he learned from it, hitting a homer off Shields his next time up, in the third, on a 3-1 fastball that caught too much of the plate. Polanco's homer in the eighth came on a 2-1 changeup from left-hander Aaron Bummer.

"He was frustrated [that] he expanded the zone a little bit, but the next at-bat he took those same-type pitches and got the count to 3-1 and homered," Molitor said. "They brought the lefty in there [later] and he did his thing. He got an offspeed pitch and hammered that one, too. He's feeling good about his game and made a few nice defensive plays, too."

As Molitor noted, Polanco's defense has also been improving, and he made a great diving stop and throw to second to help Ervin Santana get out of a jam in the second.

Video: CWS@MIN: Polanco makes a fantastic diving catch

Polanco said he's feeling confident on both offense and defense, which has been huge for the Twins as they continue to hold onto the second American League Wild Card spot.

"He's doing his job -- defense, offense, you name it," Santana said. "It's good for our team, especially this time of year."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.

Minnesota Twins, Jorge Polanco