Twins bask in glow of power display
MINNEAPOLIS -- After averaging just 2.75 runs per game in June, the Twins' offense finally broke out in a big way with a 13-2 win over the White Sox on Monday night at Target Field.
The Twins connected on a season-high four homers, and the 13 runs matched a season best. Minnesota showed off a rare barrage of power, with Joe Mauer, Eduardo Nunez, Kennys Vargas and Brian Dozier all homering.
The Twins are hopeful that the impressive showing will jump-start their offense, but they scored seven runs on Friday, only to score one on Saturday and none on Sunday in consecutive losses. They also face Jeff Samardzija and Chris Sale in the next two days after facing John Danks, who entered with a career 5.67 ERA against the Twins and gave up nine runs (five earned) over 5 1/3 innings, on Monday.
"Tonight we can go home and think about it and try to carry that momentum into tomorrow," right fielder Torii Hunter said. "It felt good. Vargas had great swings tonight, Mauer went oppo. It was a lot of fun today. Hopefully, we can carry this over, because we have some tough guys coming the next two days."
It was an important showing for Vargas, who collected a career-high four hits, including a three-run blast as part of a five-run sixth that put the game out of reach. Vargas, who was hitting just .167 with a homer and a double in 11 games since rejoining the Twins in early June after a stint at Triple-A Rochester, has been taking extra batting practice with hitting coach Tom Brunansky and under the watchful eye of Twins great Tony Oliva over the past week.
"It feels good," Vargas said. "I'm starting to feel like I can do something for the team and help the team score runs."
Manager Paul Molitor was also encouraged by the at-bats from Vargas, who had three hits from the right side and one from the left. If the Twins are going to break out of their funk, they need Vargas to bring power the way he did last season as a rookie.
"We're looking for him to continue to trend positively," Molitor said. "Power numbers, production numbers, those are what you want from a big man like that. That's how he's going to contribute."
The breakout also coincided with top prospect Byron Buxton making his first start as the club's leadoff hitter. Buxton sparked the offense by going 3-for-5 with three runs scored, and although his move to the leadoff spot isn't permanent, if he can get going after a slow start, it would be another big addition to the slumping offense.
"With Buxton on base, I think Dozier gets more fastballs," Hunter said. "So I definitely think if he's in the leadoff spot and keeps that going like he did today, there's no doubt he's not going anywhere."