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Twins' offense awakens after quiet week

Plouffe provides spark with four-RBI performance

MINNEAPOLIS -- When the Twins were tearing through opponents in May, they were doing so on the strength of their hitting. They were scoring early, scoring often and getting strong enough pitching to win. But the offense has slogged through June, missing opportunities with runners in scoring position and relying heavily on their pitching staff to keep them in close games.

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On Friday, the Twins returned to their winning formula, breaking out the bats in a 7-2 victory over the Cubs. Third baseman Trevor Plouffe keyed the offense in the win, driving in four runs on a fielder's choice, an RBI double and a two-run double.

"We want to have good at-bats and hit with runners in scoring position like we did in May, and I think we did that tonight," Plouffe said. "Offense comes and goes and it's contagious, so hopefully we'll get on a roll here."

The Twins had seven extra-base hits and hit 4-for-17 with runners in scoring position. That was enough to overcome multiple rundowns, including one involving Plouffe.

"I've been teaching him baserunning for about eight years, nine years. He's had better days," Twins manager Paul Molitor said of Plouffe. "You can joke a little bit when it ends up 7-2, but we've played enough games as of late that the little things matter."

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Before Friday, the Twins' past five games were determined by one run. Minnesota scored four runs Sunday, but hadn't scored more than three in a game all week. The club entered the day having scored just 47 runs in 17 games in June.

"Offensively, that was a big night for us. We just haven't had many games as of late where we've put many runs on the board," Molitor said. "We got some big hits with men in scoring position, which we haven't done a lot of lately."

The Twins got offense when they needed it in a 2-1 walk-off victory Thursday, and Plouffe said the club was hoping that would spark the offense.

"It got us fired up [Thursday] and we came in today pretty fired up, so hopefully that continues," Plouffe said. "We've struggled for, I don't know, a couple weeks now, so we're over struggling. We don't want to do that anymore. We want to score some runs."

Last week that in a game against the Rangers, the Twins scored just one run in an inning that they hit three triples. But they put together a string of good at-bats in Friday's outburst and saw positive results.

"We had a lot of guys that had bad weeks. It just wasn't trending as a team or a unit, a lot of individuals, the way we would like to see it," Molitor said. "I feel a little lightened mood offensively that hadn't been reflected until tonight in the numbers that we put up."

Betsy Helfand is an associate reporter for
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