'Hammer' hurts 'em: Two homers by Willingham power Twins

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 11, 2013 - 12:43 AM

The Twins granted Josh Willingham’s request to bat sixth, and he rewarded them by hitting two homers to beat the A’s.

 

The last time Josh Willingham found his name in the sixth slot on the lineup card, he launched a pair of grand slams. Four years later, that spot still seems to have the same effect on him.

No wonder he asked for the change.

Moved down two spots in the batting order, Willingham burst out of a prolonged slump by clubbing more than 850 feet worth of home runs on Tuesday, the second blast delivering a 4-3 victory for the Twins over Willingham’s old team, the Oakland Athletics.

“He told me once he got close to .200, he didn’t want to bat fourth anymore,” Gardenhire said of his former cleanup hitter, who had not homered since Aug. 13 and was hitting only .151 since returning from knee surgery last month. “So I moved him down to sixth.”

Brilliant. Not only did Willingham respond with his second two-homer game of the season, but the Twins’ newest cleanup hitter, Oswaldo Arcia, launched a homer of his own, a majestic shot into the upper deck in right-center field that was his first since Aug. 10.

“Maybe I should have done this a long time ago,” Gardenhire said of the new-look lineup.

Well, it’s been a long time since Willingham hit this low. July 27, 2009, in fact, when Willingham was with the Nationals; he crushed a pair of grand slams for an eight-RBI game, meaning his last two games as a No. 6 hitter have produced five hits, four home runs and 11 RBI.

Willingham believes the difference isn’t the batting position, but the fielding position. As the designated hitter for his past five games, Willingham went only 2-for-19, dropping his batting average to .203. But he was back in the outfield on Tuesday.

“It keeps me in the game. When you’re not going good at the plate, and you’re the DH, you’ve got a lot of time to think about it,” he said. As for moving down in the order, “It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be [the cleanup hitter]. It’s more like, I wasn’t performing like a cleanup hitter.”

He did in the second inning, when a Jarrod Parker breaking ball that was supposed to dive into the dirt, didn’t. Willingham hammered it 422 feet to center field, the Twins estimate, breaking a 74-at-bat homerless skid.

And with the Twins trailing 3-2 after the American League West-leading A’s took advantage of some Liam Hendriks wildness, Willingham did it again against reliever Ryan Cook, pouncing on a 2-0 fastball. “I literally could not have put it in a better spot for him,” Cook said. “It was supposed to be down and away, and it was right down the middle.”

Only for a second, though. Once Willingham swung, it was on its way to keep left field, a 439-foot shot that completed the Twins’ second comeback victory in as many nights.

“We know he did it our last series here [in 2012], and he did it today,” said Parker, who left with a lead, was not involved in the decision, and thus kept his unbeaten streak alive at 19 consecutive starts. “We’ve got to be smarter, and we’ll probably pitch him a little different. A little more cautious.”

The Twins hope it won’t matter.

“We need [Arcia and Willingham] to get going,” Gardenhire said. The latter “needed to get a smile on his face. It’s been a battle for him, and he doesn’t feel like he’s helping the team. So that was nice to see.”

  • related content

  • Photo gallery: Twins 4, Oakland 3

    Tuesday September 10, 2013

    Tuesday night against his old team, Josh Willingham walloped two balls deep over the fence to help the Twins...

  • Postgame: Twins beat the odds in win over Parker, A's

    Wednesday September 11, 2013

    Liam Hendriks and Jarrod Parker have similar nights, but both live up to their dissimilar reputations

  • Twins notes: Diamond finds confidence in Rochester

    Wednesday September 11, 2013

    After a 12-9 breakthrough last year, Scott Diamond is just 5-10 with a 5.52 ERA in 20 big-league starts this year.

  • TwinsCentric: Why the Twins will spend this offseason

    Tuesday September 10, 2013

    The Twins have much money available, and major needs in the rotation.

  • Rand: Breaking down the Twins' 2014 schedule

    Wednesday September 11, 2013

    The Twins released their 2014 schedule Tuesday, and in some ways these productions are silly. We already knew they would...

  • Twins-Oakland game recap

    Wednesday September 11, 2013

    GAME RECAPIMPACT PLAYERJosh Willing­ham, TwinsNow that he’s not hitting cleanup, he sure hits like one: two homers, three RBI.BY THE...

  • Josh Willingham rounded the bases after hitting a homer in the second. His two-run shot in the eighth won it.

  • A happy Josh Willingham was greeted by teammates in the dugout after hitting a two-run homer that erased a one-run deficit and gave the Twins a 4-3 lead over the A’s in the eighth inning Tuesday night.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions
Final123456789RHE
Minnesota000000000040
Detroit «00100002X340
@Ballpark Replay
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box
W:D.Price(15-12) L:K.Gibson(13-12) S:J.Nathan (35)
HR: MIN- None DET- I.Kinsler (17)

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner 7 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Shields 1
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Houston 85 FINAL
Miami 90
Indiana 89 FINAL
Minnesota 107
Utah 105 FINAL
Oklahoma City 91
Portland 93 FINAL
Denver 75
Phoenix 114 FINAL
LA Lakers 108
LA Clippers 107 FINAL
Golden State 125
San Jose 3 FINAL
Boston 5
NY Rangers 4 FINAL(OT)
New Jersey 3
Toronto 5 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
Detroit 1 FINAL(OT)
Montreal 2
Arizona 3 FINAL(SO)
Nashville 4
Carolina 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 3
Philadelphia 0 FINAL
Chicago 4
Vancouver 3 FINAL
Dallas 6
Florida 4 FINAL(OT)
Colorado 3
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL(OT)
Calgary 1
Arkansas State 40 FINAL
Louisiana 55
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
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: Are you happy to see the Royals in the World Series?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close