Willingham's latest blast gets Twins offense rolling

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 29, 2012 - 8:49 AM

 The outfielder's two-run shot rocked Justin Masterson, helping Samuel Deduno win his second start in a row.

view larger photos

  

The Twins haven't had a player hit 40 home runs in a season since Harmon Killebrew smashed 41 in 1970.

Last year, Michael Cuddyer led them with 20. Now, newcomer Josh Willingham is on pace for 43.

Killebrew, who died last year, would have loved watching Willingham's powerful righthanded swing and his ability to change games for the Twins.

The latest example came Saturday, when Cleveland sinkerballer Justin Masterson retired Minnesota's first 11 batters. Joe Mauer walked and stole second base, and then Masterson threw a hanging slider, which Willingham drilled for home run No. 27.

Pretty soon, the rout was on. With 29-year-old rookie Samuel Deduno delivering another strong start, the Twins rolled to a 12-5 victory before a sellout crowd of 39,166 at Target Field.

In two games, the Twins have outscored the Indians 23-5, and Saturday's victory moved Minnesota out of last place in the American League Central for the first time since April 25.

Alexi Casilla had four RBI -- with a two-run triple followed by a two-run double -- and Denard Span and Ben Revere added two RBI apiece. Players up and down the lineup have racked up hits the past two nights, but few have been as impressive as Willingham, who homered in both games and now has a team-high 78 RBI.

"He just continues to just amaze you, just watching him swing," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Willingham hit a career-high 29 home runs last year for Oakland. Eighteen of those homers came after the All-Star break.

"I went on the DL last year one time, and that set me back a little bit," he said, "But I had a pretty good second half last year powerwise."

That success continued into this year. After signing his three-year, $21 million deal with the Twins, Willingham homered in four of his first six games, and he has added 11 in July.

That's why it seemed so risky for Mauer to try stealing a base in the fourth inning.

He was the first baserunner against Masterson (7-9), and as Mauer said about Willingham, "Just get on base, you're in scoring position for him."

But Mauer said he noticed Masterson using a high leg kick out of the stretch, which slowed his delivery to the plate. Mauer said with two strikes he figured Willingham at least would have had a fresh count the next inning if he'd been thrown out to end the inning.

Gardenhire said the Twins gave Mauer the green light, and he slid in safely with his fifth stolen base of the season.

"You can't just stand there on Masterson," Gardenhire said. "You're going to have to try to get him out of his rhythm some way or another. Mauer stealing his base, maybe takes his mind off [Willingham]. With a guy on second, they've got to change their signs, all those things, so give Mauer credit."

And give plenty to Deduno, too.

In his fourth start for the Twins, the righthander held Cleveland to one run on two hits over seven innings. Deduno (2-0), who earned his first major league victory in his previous start at Kansas City, had five walks and six strikeouts, but this made him effectively wild.

"He's got a lot of movement on his pitches," Mauer said. "With him, I sit in the middle and just tell him to aim down. Some [fastballs] will cut, some will sink. But as tough as it is to catch, it's probably tougher to hit."

  • twins vs. cleveland, late Up next: 1:10 p.m. today vs. Indians at Target Field • TV: FSN (1500-AM)
  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Tennessee 13 FINAL
Jacksonville 21
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Utah 6:00 PM
Orlando
Charlotte 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Brooklyn 6:30 PM
Cleveland
Washington 6:30 PM
Miami
Minnesota 6:30 PM
Boston
Toronto 6:30 PM
Detroit
Chicago 7:00 PM
Memphis
Portland 7:00 PM
San Antonio
LA Clippers 8:00 PM
Denver
Oklahoma City 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
Tampa Bay 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Anaheim 6:30 PM
Ottawa
NY Islanders 6:30 PM
Detroit
Boston 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
Dallas 8:00 PM
Calgary
Wilberforce 12:30 PM
Youngstown St
Jackson State 1:00 PM
Tulane
Siena 5:00 PM
Radford
Stillman 6:00 PM
Alabama
Case Western Reserve 6:00 PM
Bucknell
Niagara 6:00 PM
Buffalo
SD Christian 6:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Concordia (MI) 6:00 PM
Central Mich
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Dartmouth
North Florida 6:00 PM
Florida A&M
Hiwassee 6:00 PM
Gardner-Webb
Tennessee St 6:00 PM
Hampton
NC A&T 6:00 PM
Kent State
Central Penn College 6:00 PM
Liberty
Bethune-Cookman 6:00 PM
Mercer
Eastern Ky 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
Northern Ky 6:00 PM
Morehead State
Northern Ariz 6:00 PM
Norfolk State
MD-Eastern Shore 6:00 PM
Old Dominion
St Marys-CA 6:00 PM
St Johns
Clemson 6:00 PM
South Carolina
Tenn Tech 6:00 PM
Tennessee
Washington-MD 6:00 PM
William & Mary
Furman 6:30 PM
Fla Gulf Coast
South Dakota St 6:30 PM
CS-Bakersfield
Milligan 7:00 PM
Lamar
LSU-Alexandria 7:00 PM
ULM
Southern Utah 7:00 PM
Loyola-Chicago
Chattanooga 7:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Seattle 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Lipscomb 7:00 PM
Princeton
Winthrop 7:00 PM
SE Louisiana
Dickinson State 7:00 PM
North Dakota
New Orleans 7:05 PM
Southern Ill
TX-Pan American 8:00 PM
Creighton
Colorado State 8:00 PM
Denver
Alabama A&M 8:00 PM
Marquette
Ark-Pine Bluff 8:00 PM
Texas Tech
Eastern Wash 9:00 PM
California
Idaho State 9:05 PM
Utah State
Arizona 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 10:59 PM
Chaminade
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Ohio Valley 10:00 AM
Youngstown St
East Tenn St 10:30 AM
UNC-Wilmington
Louisiana 11:00 AM
Alcorn State
Cal-Irvine 11:00 AM
Purdue
Campbell 12:00 PM
Stetson
Jacksonville St 1:00 PM
Charleston Southern
Denver 1:30 PM
Wright State
Texas State 2:00 PM
Bethune-Cookman
Blue Mountain 2:00 PM
Central Arkansas
Albany 3:00 PM
Pepperdine
TX-San Antonio 3:00 PM
Houston
Yale 3:30 PM
Bucknell
Northern Colorado 3:30 PM
Fla Gulf Coast
Belmont 4:00 PM
Mercer
Massachusetts 4:00 PM
Georgia State
George Mason 4:05 PM
Winthrop
Portland State 4:30 PM
Princeton
UCLA 5:00 PM
Samford
Mobile 5:00 PM
Alabama State
Nicholls 5:30 PM
Texas Tech
Toledo 5:30 PM
Nevada
UMass Lowell 5:30 PM
(13) Duke
St Marys-CA 6:00 PM
Virginia
McNeese State 6:00 PM
Rice
McMurry 6:00 PM
Houston Baptist
NJIT 6:00 PM
Seton Hall
(6) North Carolina 6:00 PM
Maine
Lafayette 6:00 PM
Stony Brook
Siena 6:00 PM
Binghamton
Longwood 6:00 PM
Clemson
Savannah State 6:00 PM
Florida State
(19) Syracuse 6:00 PM
(9) Baylor
Buffalo 6:00 PM
Manhattan
Ohio U 6:00 PM
La Salle
Canisius 6:00 PM
Michigan
Davidson 6:00 PM
NC State
Northern Ky 6:00 PM
Delaware
Saint Louis 6:30 PM
Austin Peay
(25) DePaul 6:30 PM
(2) Connecticut
Florida Atlantic 7:00 PM
Long Beach St
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
Tulane
Miss Valley St 7:00 PM
Memphis
Ark-Pine Bluff 7:00 PM
UAB
Bowling Green 7:05 PM
Illinois State
Arkansas State 7:05 PM
Missouri State
ULM 7:05 PM
Wichita State
(16) Oregon State 8:00 PM
Southern Ill
Utah Valley U 8:30 PM
Montana
Pacific 9:00 PM
New Mexico St
No Dakota State 9:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Utah State 9:00 PM
Sacramento St
Bethesda (CA) 9:00 PM
Fresno State
LSU 9:30 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Do you like the Ervin Santana signing by the Twins?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close