Escobar, Hunter power Twins over Crew
MILWAUKEE -- Eduardo Escobar hit a go-ahead, three-run home run in the fifth inning, Torii Hunter added insurance with a pair of solo homers, and the Twins evened their Interleague series by beating Matt Garza and the Brewers, 5-2, on Saturday at Miller Park.
The dingers helped Twins starter Kyle Gibson snap a three-start losing streak. Gibson was charged with two runs on six hits in 6 2/3 innings and won for the first time since May 24 with an assist from reliever Blaine Boyer, who struck out Gerardo Parra with two runners aboard and two outs in the seventh inning after Ryan Braun's pinch-hit RBI single off Gibson made it a two-run game. Glen Perkins pitched the ninth inning for his 24th save in as many chances.
Garza's own outing went south with stunning swiftness. He needed only 35 pitches to navigate the first four scoreless innings before a 38-pitch, three-run fifth inning highlighted by Escobar's home run. After allowing four earned runs in six innings, Garza fell to 0-3 with a 8.50 ERA in his last three starts and became the second Major Leaguer to reach 10 losses.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Extra-base Escobar: Garza had retired 10 batters in a row, the last six on ground balls, before his long fifth inning began with Hunter's double down the left-field line. After a Chris Herrmann walk, Escobar hit a 1-2 fastball into the right-center-field bullpen for a three-run home run. The homer was Escobar's 59th extra-base hit since the start of 2014, third on the Twins behind Brian Dozier (97) and Trevor Plouffe (84).
"I think Torii distracted [Garza] a bit when he tried to steal, and he started to change his rhythm a little bit," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "That's why Escobar got a good pitch to hit. That was a huge hit."
Home run Hunter: Hunter hit his 201st and 202nd home runs in a Twins uniform. The 39-year-old smashed a 93-mph fastball from Garza into the left-center-field bleachers at Miller Park in the sixth inning and hit a solo homer off the center-field batter's eye in the ninth, moving him past Gary Gaetti for seventh on the Twins' all-time home run list. The homer in the sixth came after an overturned call at first base that would've made it a two-run blast.
"That's not a player at the end of his career," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "He's still good. He's still a threat. He's still dangerous. You still know you definitely have to make pitches on him." More >
Ill-timed mistakes: Both of the Twins' homers against Garza came on pitches that were obvious mistakes. Garza had Escobar in a 1-2 count with the pitcher on deck in the fifth inning when he threw a fastball down and in, right into a left-handed hitter's traditional power zone. An inning later, Garza had two outs before falling behind on Hunter, 2-0, and grooving a fastball right down the middle. More >
Gloves help Gibson: Although Gibson was stellar on the mound, he needed help from his defense to escape a jam in the sixth inning. With runners on first and second after allowing a single and walk in back-to-back at-bats, Twins center fielder Eddie Rosario made a tough play look easy catching Carlos Gomez's blistering line drive, and Dozier snagged a hard-hit one-hopper off the bat from Adam Lind in short right field to end the inning. Both plays kept the Brewers off the scoreboard and likely extended Gibson's outing.
"Those are big plays," Counsell said. "You've got the middle of your lineup up, your 3-4 hitters, and they made a play." More >
"Only a fool would look back and trip over a rock in front of him. Forget what happened yesterday and go out and do what you got to do today in the present time. That's my little wisdom I've been wanting to give you guys. I've been reading and studying. That's my zen" -- Hunter, on the Twins bouncing back from Friday's tough loss and their resilience this season More >
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With the halfway point of the Miller Park slate coming Sunday, the Brewers are on pace for the worst home record in franchise history. They are 14-26 through 40 home games, a .350 winning percentage that works out to 28-53 over the full season. The worst showings at home in team history came in 2002 and 2003, when the Brewers went 31-50 at Miller Park each season.
Instant replay saved the Brewers a run in the top of the sixth inning. Twins cleanup hitter Plouffe had initially been called safe when Lind dropped the relay throw from second base, but a second look showed Lind had picked up the baseball with his bare hand before Plouffe reached the bag. The overturned call proved important when Hunter followed with his home run.
Twins: Left-hander Tommy Milone gets the call for the Twins as they wrap up their Interleague series against the Brewers on Sunday. Milone has been strong in four June starts since rejoining the rotation, posting a 2.52 ERA.
Brewers: Mike Fiers will try to continue his early success against the Twins when the teams play their season series finale. He owns a 1.88 ERA (three earned runs, 14 1/3 innings) in a pair of starts plus one relief appearance against Minnesota. Fiers' first pitch is set for 1:10 p.m. CT at Miller Park.
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