CHICAGO -- In a lineup without sluggers Miguel Sano and James Dozier, Twins designated hitter Kennys Vargas helped pick up the slack with a go-ahead two-run homer in the fourth inning to help the Twins to a 7-2 win over the White Sox on Tuesday night.
Vargas kept up his hot hitting since being recalled on April 23. It was his fourth homer in 11 games, and he's batting .282/.310/.615 with 10 RBIs. The two-run blast off Mike Pelfrey was also crushed, as it had an exit velocity of 114.7 mph, which was the hardest-hit homer of his career and the third-hardest hit ball of his career, per Statcast™.
"Obviously, when you're missing two of your key guys, you never know how it's going to play out," manager Paul Molitor said. "I was questioning my lineup the first few innings. But we bounced back with [Max Kepler] getting a big hit and Kennys' home run. He hit that ball. It was a line drive and I'm not sure how far it went, but it went out in a hurry."
Vargas' homer came on a 1-1 sinker in the middle of the zone, and he deposited it into the right-field seats quickly. The ball went a projected 406 feet, hitting the Hyundai sign above the bullpen in just 3.9 seconds, per Statcast™.
"I was just looking for something good up in the zone," Vargas said. "I was just looking for good contact and looking for the gap. And I hit the homer. You could tell with the bat sound, it was gone. I never expect it to be that hard. I'm just trying to make contact with the ball."
Pelfrey wasn't happy with the location, as the sinker was up and over the plate. It was Vargas' hardest-hit homer of the year by 8.2 mph, and topped his career-best of 113.1 mph against the Royals on April 16, 2015.
"Terrible pitch," Pelfrey said. "It was right down the middle and kind of flat. He's got a lot of power and he obviously hit it."
Despite Robbie Grossman's impressive numbers offensively, Vargas has seen increased playing time of late as the designated hitter, giving the Twins much-needed power in the middle of the order. Vargas has started five of the club's last six games, and he has hit two homers with nine RBIs in that stretch.
"I'm driving in runs and that's what I'm looking for," Vargas said. "I'm getting more comfortable. This is a tough level, but playing every day gives you confidence and you can make adjustments because they're seeing pitching every day."
The switch-hitting Vargas is expected to continue to see action against right-handers, but Grossman is likely to start against lefties.
"I've been pleased," Molitor said. "[Vargas] hit the ball over the fence. He's trying to work on swings on both sides, and right-handed is a little behind right now. He's been playing fairly regularly and taking advantage."