Perkins fired up after back-to-back strikeouts to finish

 

Twins closer Glen Perkins said he rarely shows emotion after closing out games, but he let out a fist pump following his 19th save this season.

“With everything that’s been going on and not doing well [Friday], I was excited today to get that one done, win this series and give us a chance to sweep them [Sunday],” Perkins said following the Twins’ 4-3 victory over the White Sox at Target Field.

In Friday’s game, he came on with a two-run lead only to give up two runs on four hits, escaping without further damage thanks to an inning-ending double play started by Brian Dozier with the bases loaded. Dozier then made Perkins a winner by delivering a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning.

With another two-run lead Saturday, Perkins’ outing wasn’t pretty, but it got the job done.

He gave up a leadoff triple to Adam Eaton, who promptly scored on a sacrifice fly. Then pinch hitter Paul Konerko lined a single right over Perkins’ head with sluggers Jose Abreu and Adam Dunn due up.

Perkins struck out both swinging — Abreu with a breaking ball and Dunn with a fastball. Dunn has not recorded a hit against Perkins in 11 career at-bats with eight strikeouts and one walk.

“I’ve had some good success against Dunn, knock on wood,” Perkins said. “It’s never a comfortable at-bat because if he hits it, he’s going to hit it far.”

Perkins has pitched in each of the first three games this series, with two saves and a victory. This came after he couldn’t pitch Wednesday at Boston because of lower back stiffness, and in his place Casey Fien gave up back-to-back homers in a 2-1, 10-inning loss.

“It got a little hairy there at the end, but he was pumping it about 94-95 miles an hour against the big boy [Dunn], and it was pretty exciting,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We end up winning the bout, a nice win for us.”

Morales at first

Kendrys Morales made his first start at first base for the Twins on Saturday, and the veteran switch hitter said he would like to see a few more opportunities in the field this season.

While acknowledging that Joe Mauer remains the everyday first baseman, Morales, who had been strictly used as a designated hitter since signing June 8, broke an 0-for-21 slump with a single in the fifth inning. He said playing first might have helped his offense.

“I needed more play every day; sometimes maybe two times a week is good for me and for my ankle too for more motion,” Morales said. “But I’m feeling good now.”

Mauer also benefited at the plate as the designated hitter, with a two-run double in the fifth that put the Twins in front.

“It was a good day,” Mauer said. “I’ve had a pretty tough stretch here. It was a pretty good day to just go out there and try to drive in some people. But you need those every once in a while.”

Vikings rookies visit

Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr and running back Jerick McKinnon paid a visit to Target Field, participating in a home run derby with Twins mascot TC. Barr, the ninth overall pick in this year’s NFL draft, also threw out the first pitch.

“I’ve never really caught a ball in this type of distance in front of you,” said Barr, who didn’t play baseball growing up but went to a handful of Dodgers games.

The Vikings won’t have to worry about MLB teams pursuing Barr anytime soon. He struggled catching the ball, went 0-for-7 during the home run derby — whiffing on a few underhand softball tosses — and lobbed in the first pitch standing in front of the mound.

McKinnon, a third-round selection, tied with TC in the home run derby with two. The running back launched two softballs into the upper deck in left center field from the center field grass.

Hicks hits lefthanded

Outfielder Aaron Hicks, on a rehab assignment at Class AA New Britain, hit lefthanded Saturday night after telling the Twins last month that he was abandoning switch hitting.

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