CHICAGO — Before the Twins scored 38 runs in 30 innings, one of the best offensive stretches over the last decade, Twins hitting coach David Popkins came up with the idea that captivated baseball fans across the nation.

When the Twins were shut out for their first five innings against the Chicago White Sox last Thursday, Popkins saw a Cloverdale Foods tangy summer sausage sitting on a table inside the Twins' clubhouse. He grabbed it, brought it to the dugout and told players to touch it before their next at-bat.

The first two batters, Edouard Julien and Ryan Jeffers, hit back-to-back homers to "meat" the moment, and the Twins had an organic new tradition.

"We went to the playoffs last year, won some games, it was great," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "We won 101 games in '19. Never, never — not even remotely close — have we had this much media coverage about anything that has ever gone on. It's not even remotely close. This is by far the biggest story we've been a part of in my six years."

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Popkins, the mastermind behind the Rally Sausage, explained how he came up with the idea. This Q&A was lightly edited for brevity and clarity.

Q: You brought the sausage down to the dugout. Why?

Popkins: "There was just a random, giant sausage on the table, and we some pretty hard outs there. We weren't really getting very lucky. Just something to have fun and flip it around a little bit. Luckily, it felt like it worked a little bit, so we had fun with it."

Q: Back-to-back homers work.

Popkins: "Yeah, and the next three got hits, and two of them were kind of lucky hits. It flipped everything and we ended up winning, so it was just a fun thing. We kept going."

Q: You feel like you have to bring it to Anaheim?

Popkins: "We have to keep it going. We're keeping that thing running until the juice in the sausage runs out."

Q: Ever done anything like this silly with hitters?

Popkins: "Last year, the [Land of 10,000 Rakes] vest was a cool thing. It happens organically. We try to always keep things a little light and have fun, especially in times you're grinding through a little bit. Anything to switch things up, make it fun and have guys relax a little bit, we're always up for. But nothing like this, though."

Q: Teams have all these numbers and stats, and this is the way to get hitters to loosen up?

Popkins: "Baseball is a very mental game. There are technical aspects. There are things you have to work on, of course. But the mental side, especially in-season, is so important. Something as small as [a sausage] can shift everything. Nothing changed about our process or anything like that. Just a little something different to have fun and laugh about, and all of a sudden, things open up."