Joe Mauer is collecting base hits in bunches again, and Justin Morneau is driving in runs. Yep, the old formula still works.
Mauer extended his hitting streak to 10 consecutive games with a three-hit Saturday night, and Morneau drove in three runs with three hits of his own, a combination that helped the Twins rally from a three-run deficit and produced their fourth victory in five games, 8-5 over the Orioles in Target Field.
“It was one of those games where you just got to keep plugging away against those guys,” manager Ron Gardenhire said, and who better for that job than the Twins’ most senior veterans? “Joe banged the ball around, Mornie had three [RBI] and [Ryan] Doumit puts one up there by the upper tank.”
Yes, Doumit is a relative newcomer next to the Twins’ most recognizable stars, but he hit between them Saturday and joined right in, blasting a mediocre fastball from Troy Patton more than 400 feet. It was Doumit’s third home run in five days, which helped him fit right in among the hot hitters.
“He’s confident. And we need him,” Gardenhire said. “Being able to get him at-bats is very important for this baseball team. He’s one of those guys who really gets after it and digs and digs.”
So is the M&M combo, and the two players have begun to dig even harder since April turned to May. Mauer singled twice and doubled home a run Saturday, raising his batting average to .333, exactly a week after he bottomed out at .282. Morneau singled twice, bringing home Brian Dozier once and Mauer a couple of times, giving him more RBI on May 11 (13) than he had in the entire month of April (11).
And Doumit? “I don’t want to jinx anything,” the switch hitter said about his sudden surge of power. “Right now I feel pretty good in the box. Hopefully I can put together a nice streak.”
Speaking of streaks, Vance Worley ended a long one, 12 starts in a row without winning. And while falling behind 3-0 in the first inning, giving up 11 hits and five runs and boosting his ERA back over 7.00 wasn’t exactly the way he pictured his first victory as an American Leaguer, it was a nice change from trying to find the bright spots in a loss.
“I wasn’t thinking so much,” Worley (1-4) said after claiming his first victory since Aug. 1, 2012, with Philadelphia. The righthander said he told himself “I’m here for a reason. I got to the big leagues pitching — I don’t need to think too much about what I need to do out there, just make my pitches.”
The Twins needed him to make a lot of them, too. With a bullpen several arms short, “we desperately needed him to get us to the sixth inning,” Gardenhire said, and Worley tried.
He went out for the sixth inning despite having thrown 96 pitches already, and though he couldn’t get through it without help from Brian Duensing, Gardenhire said he appreciated the 111-pitch effort, the longest by any Twins starter this year.
“We wanted to try to get some big outs. He’s stretched out,” Gardenhire said. “We’re going to have to do that. Some starters are going to have to eat up innings.
Worley had plenty of help from his offense (eight runs, the eighth time in 10 May games they have scored five or more), his defense (Chris Parmelee with a diving catch on the warning track) and his bullpen (3⅔ scoreless innings).
“I need to be better than that,” Worley said, “but overall, my team had my back today.”