Twins pitchers gave up four more, and another game, at their allegedly pitcher-friendly ballpark.
Target Field is not supposed to give up home runs the way it has this season, but a pitcher's park can turn into a hitter's park if baseballs are left up in the strike zone.
It was obvious again Saturday as the Milwaukee Brewers bashed the Twins 6-2, putting them in position to sweep the three-game series. Twins pitchers gave up four more home runs -- two to Ryan Braun -- pushing them into the major league lead with 87 long balls given up.
Just add this category to the others the Twins rank near the bottom in. They entered Saturday last in the American League in ERA and hits allowed. They have walked the fewest batters but have struck out the fewest, too.
But nothing grabs attention like the long ball.
"We keep stressing over and over to throw the ball down in the strike zone," Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson said. "Ground balls don't go out of the park. You look at the home runs, and we're pitching up in the strike zone. You have guys who are command-and-control types, sinker-type guys. You throw the ball down, it sinks and you get ground balls. The higher you get, the flatter you get and there are more fly balls. And a ball in the air is not a good thing."
Righthander Liam Hendriks, called up from Class AAA Rochester to make this start, gave up three home runs Saturday and is tied for third on the team with eight homers off him -- which is remarkable because he has started only five games. He failed to get ahead early in the count. And many of his strikes were over the middle of the plate.
Norichika Aoki's two-out, two-run single in the second inning opened the scoring. Braun hit the first of his two home runs in the third to make it 3-1. Hendriks then tried to throw a get-me-over strike to the next batter and watched Aramis Ramirez hit that ball out, too, as Milwaukee took a 4-1 lead.
"It wasn't that bad of a pitch," Hendriks said. "He put a real good swing on it."
Ben Revere got the Twins on the board in the third with an RBI single. Hendriks lasted until the fifth, when Braun launched one into the bullpen area for his 19th homer.
"He's swinging the bat as good as I've seen it," said Hendriks, 0-3 with a 7.83 ERA.
Hendriks and Nick Blackburn trail Carl Pavano and the released Jason Marquis -- each with nine homers given up -- for the team lead.
Anthony Swarzak replaced Hendriks for the sixth inning and watched his first pitch get hit into the seats by Cody Ransom.
Swarzak is tied with Francisco Liriano and P.J. Walters for fifth on the team with seven homers surrendered. It's the number of pitchers who have given up several homers that has vaulted the Twins into the major league lead.
Target Field gave up 1.43 homers a game in its first year in 2010 and 1.56 homers last season. This year, the park is seeing 2.09 homers. Opponents have outhomered the Twins here 42-29 in 33 games.
While the Brewers played power ball Saturday, the Twins were no match for righthander Mike Fiers, who improved to 2-2 as he tied a career high with seven innings pitched.
It led to a frustrating day at the ballpark as the Twins search for solutions on the mound.
"It was one of those games where nothing good really happened," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "When your best cheers were for a double play, that's not very much for your offense."
|Minnesota - LP: V. Worley||3||FINAL|
|Atlanta - WP: P. Maholm||8|
|Cincinnati - WP: A. Simon||7||FINAL|
|NY Mets - LP: B. Parnell||4|
|Los Angeles - WP: H. Ryu||9||FINAL|
|Milwaukee - LP: W. Peralta||2|
|Oakland - LP: J. Parker||1||FINAL|
|Texas - WP: R. Wolf||3|
|Arizona - LP: T. Cahill||1||FINAL|
|Colorado - WP: J. De La Rosa||4|
|Washington - WP: T. Clippard||2||FINAL|
|San Francisco - LP: J. Affeldt||1|
|Tampa Bay - LP: C. Ramos||3||FINAL|
|Toronto - WP: A. Loup||4|
|Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Samardzija||0||FINAL|
|Pittsburgh - WP: F. Liriano||1|
|Detroit - WP: J. Verlander||11||FINAL|
|Cleveland - LP: U. Jimenez||7|
|NY Yankees - LP: H. Kuroda||3||FINAL|
|Baltimore - WP: J. Hammel||6|
|Seattle - LP: B. Maurer||1||FINAL|
|LA Angels - WP: C. Wilson||7|
|Philadelphia - WP: C. Lee||3||FINAL|
|Miami - LP: K. Slowey||0|
|Boston - WP: C. Buchholz||6||FINAL|
|Chicago WSox - LP: H. Santiago||2|
|Kansas City - LP: J. Shields||1||FINAL|
|Houston - WP: J. Lyles||3|
|St. Louis - WP: T. Lyons||5||FINAL|
|San Diego - LP: B. Smith||3|