After sweeping a horrendous White Sox team in four games at Target Field, Twins manager Paul Molitor knows the approach he wants his team to take.
“You’ve got to get greedy when things are going well,” he said, “and try to ride these things out as long as you possibly can.”
The Twins socked it to the Sox 13-3 on Sunday and swept them in a four-game series for the second consecutive year. They knocked Chicago lefthander John Danks out of the game in the third inning and took advantage of four White Sox errors to improve to 13-12 — their first advancement over .500 since May 23, 2014, when they were 23-22.
Oakland is coming in for four games next, and Molitor wants more.
Will he get what he wants? He already has once this season.
After the Twins lost 12-3 to Kansas City on April 13 in their home opener to fall to 1-6, Molitor called a meeting. Things were looking a lot like 2011-14 — all seasons of at least 92 losses.
“Mollie had a meeting with us,” outfielder Torii Hunter said. “He said, ‘Hey, this is how the game goes. We just need to play with a little more fire and grind out at-bats and play the game the way we know how.’ ”
The Twins are 12-6 since.
“The first week was tough on him, too,” third baseman Trevor Plouffe said. “Seeing him keep it loose and keep it confident, that just resonates with all of us. We had Torii in here doing it as well. You have two guys like that you respect so much, it’s like we got it. We’re going to have weeks like that. It just happened to be at the beginning of the year.”
Plouffe had just delivered his first career grand slam and a career-high five RBI. His slam came off a 1-1 changeup from Danks that he hit an estimated 408 feet to left-center to open the scoring in the Twins’ seven-run third inning.
“I know he’s not trying to hit home runs,” Molitor said of Plouffe, who leads the team in home runs (five) and RBI (15). “He’s one of those guys that tries to drive the ball from gap to gap, and when he gets mistakes, he’s taking advantage.”
Danny Santana then drove Danks from the game with a two-run single. Brian Dozier, who was 4-for-5, added an RBI single and the Twins led 7-0.
Twins righthander Mike Pelfrey was in position to have an easy afternoon but suffered from a rash of wildness, hitting three Chicago batters in the fourth — two with the bases loaded — making it 7-2. Ryan Pressly came in, got out of the jam and got the victory, retiring all eight batters he faced.
The Twins scored four more runs in the fourth, during which the White Sox committed two errors and Jordan Schafer raced home when no one covered the plate while chasing an errant throw. The Twins played sturdier defense, posting one error but turning four double plays.
The Twins, who outscored Chicago 31-8 in the series, just completed a stretch in which 22 of their 25 games were against AL Central teams, going 11-11. They sit in third place, 3½ games behind Detroit, and as they have sized up their competition, they don’t feel overmatched.
“We’re seeing what it’s like if we concentrate on what we do as opposed to who we are playing against,” Molitor said. “If we do things well, we are going to compete with anyone we take the field with.”
It’s only 25 games into a 162-game season, but rebounding from the bad start has them believing there won’t be a repeat of what has happened the previous four seasons.
“It’s a totally new team, we saw that in spring training,” Dozier said. “It’s night and day from where we started. You can’t get those [early losses] back, but at the same time, let’s roll with it.”