Trevor Plouffe stopped manager Paul Molitor after Sunday’s game as he walked through the clubhouse and asked for the truth.
“Who said it?” Plouffe said. “Who?”
A few moments earlier, Molitor drew chuckles during the postgame news conference when he discussed how Plouffe avoided a tag at home plate in the sixth inning Sunday, a key moment in the Twins’ 7-4 victory over the Yankees at Target Field.
Plouffe was called out by home plate umpire Paul Emmel, but replays showed that Plouffe, as he slid by the plate, lifted his arm to avoid being tagged by New York catcher Brian McCann then slapped his hand on the plate.
The call eventually was overturned. The Twins were on their way to a four-run inning in a win that ended a five-game skid.
“It was a pretty athletic slide,” Molitor said. “You can determine how big of an athlete he is, but that was a nice slide.”
Molitor was merely repeating something a teammate said, which led to Plouffe’s inquisition.
“I can’t catch a break, it’s unbelievable,” Plouffe said in mock disgust. “I guess I have to keep showing it. There were times today where I didn’t look athletic. I will say that [play] is athletic I will take it when I can get it.”
It was a lighthearted moment in a season that has allowed few of them. The Twins ended their five-game losing streak while avoiding being swept in the four-game series by the Yankees. Righthander Ervin Santana (2-7) gave up two earned runs over 7 ⅓ innings and stopped a personal five-game losing streak. Max Kepler was 3-for-4 with a home run, two RBI and three runs scored. Righthander Brandon Kintzler recorded a four-out save. Brian McCann slugged two long home runs to lead the Yankees.
The Twins trailed 2-0 in the fifth when Kepler lined a slider just into the overhang in right field for his second home run. Yankees righthander Nathan Eovaldi (6-4) marched around the mound talking to himself as Kepler circled the bases.
In the sixth, Brian Dozier hit a one-out single to center and went to third when Plouffe beat the shift with a single to right-center. Eduardo Escobar followed with a triple into the right-field corner. Dozier scored easily, and Plouffe turned into a contortionist to score the second run — after the replay review.
“When they finally came back and said I was safe, I was relieved,” Plouffe said.
Escobar scored on Kepler’s single, and Suzuki doubled in Kepler. The Twins had five consecutive hits in the inning and took a 5-2 lead. Dozier added a solo homer in the seventh.
Santana was replaced by Taylor Rogers with one out in the eighth. Jacoby Ellsbury hit a tapper between home and first, which Rogers fielded and threw wildly to first for an error. Then Plouffe let a ball go through his legs at first as a run scored and the Yankees closed to 6-3. With memories of Saturday’s blown four-run lead still fresh, Rogers struck out Carlos Beltran, and Kintzler came on to strike out Alex Rodriguez to end the inning.
Kepler doubled and scored on Danny Santana’s single in the eighth before McCann hit his second homer of the game in the ninth for the final run.
The Twins enjoyed a Father’s Day dance party after the game, then Plouffe defended his athletic prowess.
“I need some support from my teammates here,” he said. “You guys are really taking me down with this nonathletic talk. Who was it? Who said it?’’