Trevor Plouffe homered twice, but Drew Butera's late three-run shot ultimately saved the Twins' day.
Good pitching can cover up shortcomings in other areas. It's hard to outhit bad pitching. But on Sunday, the Twins used the long ball to make up for shaky pitching and one bad defensive sequence.
The Twins muscled up to hit four home runs in fighting back from four runs down to defeat the Royals 10-8 at Target Field. Trevor Plouffe hit two solo homers, with Josh Willingham and Drew Butera each adding a three-run shot.
Hey, a Twins catcher has to hit a home run once in a while. It might as well be Butera.
In their past two games -- the other one was the second game of the day-night doubleheader on Saturday -- the Twins have hit seven homers.
They needed all four Sunday. Lefthander Francisco Liriano was knocked out after 5 1/3 innings and 107 pitches. The Twins trailed 5-1, due in part to a sixth-during sequence in which one run scored on an error by Justin Morneau and another scored when Darin Mastroianni, charging in from right field after Morneau's error, overran the ball.
Butera's home run in the eighth gave the Twins a five-run cushion before Glen Perkins gave up three runs in the ninth. It was Butera's first home run since July 16.
Is the power surge a result of the humidity in the air in recent days? Twins manager Ron Gardenhire suggested finding a scientist instead of asking him.
"I don't have an answer for that," Gardenhire said. "The ball is flying right now."
Paul Molitor has said in the past that baseballs seemed to travel farther in the Metrodome when there were big crowds and the humidity was up, but studies have shot down that humidity theory. Who cares at this point? Twins fans, after watching opponents out-homer their guys in Target Field the past 2 1/2 seasons, must be happy just to see some consistent power from the home team.
The dimensions at Target Field are pitcher-friendly. A couple of media types have quietly nicknamed the right-right center field area "Kubel's Canyon." But muscles have been an issue, too.
Willingham, a professional masher, has proved that. He's a burly man who knows his swing and looks for a pitch in a certain area, usually middle-in. On Sunday, he was looking out over the plate against Royals lefthander Bruce Chen, got it and laced it an estimated 416 feet to the bullpens for a three-run homer that tied the score at 5-5 in the fifth. Willingham has hit 11 of his 17 homers at Target Field.
Plouffe has been a revelation. He looked for a pitch in a certain area on Sunday and got it twice off Chen, in the second and the sixth. So before Chen could get ahead in the count and use his array of pitches and arm angles, Plouffe popped two into the left field stands, the second one giving the Twins a 6-5 lead in the sixth as the announced crowd of 37,819 celebrated. Plouffe has 18 homers, including 11 at home.
Plouffe, 26, hit for power once he got to Class AAA and is learning what he can do in the majors while settling in at third base. Willingham and Plouffe have been quite a pair, homering in the same game five times since June 4.
Plouffe has hit 17 homers in his past 37 games.
"I definitely learned a lot from [Willingham] this year," Plouffe said. "Just about what kind of hitter I want to be and staying within myself, not trying to do things I can't do. It's worked out. We're both putting some balls in the seats lately and that has helped our team."
|Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Russell||4||FINAL|
|Pittsburgh - WP: W. Rodriguez||5|
|Detroit - WP: M. Scherzer||5||FINAL|
|Cleveland - LP: C. Kluber||1|
|NY Yankees - LP: V. Nuno||2||FINAL|
|Baltimore - WP: J. Johnson||3|
|Tampa Bay - WP: A. Cobb||4||FINAL|
|Toronto - LP: R. Ortiz||3|
|Cincinnati - WP: M. Leake||4||FINAL|
|NY Mets - LP: J. Niese||0|
|Philadelphia - WP: T. Cloyd||7||FINAL|
|Miami - LP: D. Below||3|
|Minnesota - LP: B. Duensing||4||FINAL|
|Atlanta - WP: C. Kimbrel||5|
|Oakland - WP: D. Straily||1||FINAL|
|Texas - LP: Y. Darvish||0|
|Los Angeles - LP: Z. Greinke||2||FINAL|
|Milwaukee - WP: M. Fiers||5|
|Boston - LP: F. Doubront||1||FINAL|
|Chicago WSox - WP: J. Quintana||3|
|Kansas City - WP: B. Chen||7||FINAL|
|Houston - LP: P. Clemens||3|
|Arizona - LP: M. Reynolds||4||FINAL|
|Colorado - WP: W. Lopez||5|
|Seattle - LP: A. Harang||0||FINAL|
|LA Angels - WP: J. Williams||12|
|St. Louis - WP: A. Wainwright||10||FINAL|
|San Diego - LP: E. Volquez||2|
|Washington - LP: Y. Maya||2||FINAL|
|San Francisco - WP: J. Affeldt||4|