Right mix boosts Twins offense in 11-run outburst

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 13, 2012 - 12:00 PM

The Twins, looking more confident with a stable lineup, erupted for 17 hits to outpunch the Phillies.

Sixty games into the season, it looks like the Twins have found themselves an infield. And what do third baseman Trevor Plouffe, shortstop Brian Dozier, second baseman Jamey Carroll and first baseman Justin Morneau have in common?

None of them started at that position on Opening Day.

Plouffe continued his torrid June, and Carroll matched him with three hits Tuesday night, as the Twins won an 11-7 slugfest against the Phillies before an announced crowd of 32,622 at Target Field.

Dozier was the only one in the lineup who didn't get on base, as the Twins racked up 17 hits, improving to 10-3 in their past 13 games. He's a rookie going through some growing pains, but the team believes he will be fine.

Morneau didn't have a huge game either, going 1-for-5, but the Twins love his presence at first base.

The biggest development of late has been Plouffe, who has batted .417 in nine June games with four doubles, five homers and 12 RBI.

The Twins have an opening at third base because Danny Valencia is back in the minors, and Plouffe is making the most of his playing time there.

"He's confident," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He's actually staying in one position right now. We haven't moved him around too awful much. Hopefully he'll just continue that because he's hitting the ball and catching the ball, and that's a place that we need some offense and we need to catch the ball."

Plouffe's defense isn't perfect. In the sixth inning, he took a slow first step to his left as Jimmy Rollins bounced a single through the hole to load the bases. But Plouffe made three tough plays over the final three innings, as the Twins held on for their sixth victory in their past seven home games.

"I just like being in the lineup," Plouffe said. "Third base -- it's been nice to go out there and know where I'm playing, but down the stretch, if we need to move me to the outfield, or anywhere, I'm fine with that."

Plouffe's ability to handle the hot corner has allowed Carroll to move to second base. Carroll has a .338 on-base percentage for the season, compared to .276 for Opening Day second baseman Alexi Casilla.

Carroll has improved since moving lower in the batting order. After batting .227 for 27 games the No. 2 spot, he's batting .299 in the same number of games from the No. 9 spot.

"We like him," Gardenhire said. "No matter where you put him -- I can bat him second, I can bat him eighth, ninth -- it doesn't matter, he's going to do the job."

This was a see-saw game, though the Twins never trailed. They built a 5-0 lead by the second inning against Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick (2-6), but the Phillies scored four runs in the fourth inning against Twins starter Nick Blackburn (3-4).

The key for the Twins was their ability to expand the lead each time Philadelphia got close.

It was 5-4 in the fourth inning, but the Twins made it 8-4 by the fifth. It was 8-7 in the sixth inning, but the Twins pulled away from there, getting a sixth-inning solo homer from Josh Willingham -- his 12th of the season -- before adding two more in the seventh.

"We had some great performances on offense," Gardenhire said. "Plouffey had a heck of a night. Jamey Carroll. Span got us off on the right foot with a home run. All the way up and down the lineup, some guys did some pretty good things."


    Up next: 7:10 p.m. today vs. Philadelphia • Target Field • TV: FSN (1500-AM)

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