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May's rough rookie season continues in loss

Young righty cruises through three innings before faltering vs. the O's

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BALTIMORE -- The Twins keep waiting on Trevor May to make a big step forward.

There were some positive signs in his fourth career start Friday night against the Orioles, such as his three strong innings to open the game and his career-high eight strikeouts, but the rookie ultimately struggled again in a 9-1 loss at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

May surrendered a career-high eight runs, struggling in the fourth and fifth innings, as he served up a grand slam to Chris Davis that was keyed by a pair of hit batters in the fourth, and a questionable two-run homer to Delmon Young that stood after a replay review in the fifth.

"I don't think it's all mental," May said. "I say it every time, but you have to make a pitch when you need to make a pitch. I mean, two pitches account for six of those runs. Both times I didn't make a pitch and I paid for it. It's frustrating to say the least."

May, who entered having walked 13 batters in 14 1/3 career innings, opened strong, cruising through the first three innings with just one bloop hit allowed and five strikeouts.

But it unraveled in the fourth, as his control problems came back to haunt him. May gave up a leadoff single to Jimmy Paredes before plunking Adam Jones and Nelson Cruz to load the bases with no outs. May hadn't hit a batter all season, even in his 18 starts at Triple-A Rochester.

May was able to strike out Young for the first out, but walked J.J. Hardy on four pitches to bring home the game's first run. He promptly fell behind Davis, who jumped all over a 3-1 fastball for a grand slam. It was the first homer given up by May in the Majors.

"It looked like he lost his poise out there," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He couldn't repeat it and put himself in some bad situations. He fell behind Mr. Davis up there. He tried to throw one over, and he deposited it. So it's a tough inning for him and he has to learn to control his emotions."

The Twins stuck with May for the fifth inning, but he allowed a one-out RBI single to Jones before giving up a two-run homer to Young with two outs that was reviewed and ultimately stood, even though it appeared a fan reached over the fence to catch the ball.

"That's a joke," Gardenhire said. "That's embarrassing, because the system didn't work tonight. The guy reached over the fence and caught the ball."

Young's homer against his former team knocked May from the game, as the right-hander gave up eight runs on six hits, two hit batters and a walk to fall to 0-4 with a 10.42 ERA in his young career.

Gardenhire said he plans on sticking with May, but the 24-year-old needs to learn to slow the game down and keep his composure when running into jams.

"We could obviously see from the dugout he was cranked up there and it didn't work out in his favor," Gardenhire said. "So he's learning here and going through some growing pains."

Reliever Samuel Deduno replaced May and went 2 1/3 innings, giving up a run in the sixth on a one-out double from Jonathan Schoop.

The Twins were held in check by Orioles right-hander Miguel Gonzalez, who gave up just one run on four hits and a walk over seven strong innings to get the win.

"He was solid," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "He had really good late life."

Minnesota scored its lone run on a solo shot from Trevor Plouffe off Gonzalez with one out in the seventh inning. It was home run No. 10,000 in franchise history, including the club's time as the Washington Senators, dating back to 1901.

"It was pretty incredible to be a part of history," Plouffe said. "I was just in the right place at the right time."

But it wasn't enough, and May put the blame on himself for not doing a better job after pitching well through the first three innings.

"Moving forward, it's about trying to add on to those three innings and make it six, seven, eight innings," May said. "It's about throwing zeros and trying to get wins. It's doing my job, and I haven't done it yet. But I know I'm capable of it and that things can go my way."

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Young's home run stands after crew chief review

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BALTIMORE -- The Orioles had a home run call stand in the fifth inning, helping increase their lead over the Twins on Friday night.

After Adam Jones singled in a run, Delmon Young drove a pitch off Twins rookie Trevor May that had just enough carry to sail into the left-field stands.

Twins left fielder Jordan Schafer, who made a fantastic effort in crashing into the wall in hopes of corralling it, watched a fan reach over and grab the ball before it had a chance to clear the park. While the fan didn't interfere with Schafer, it was enough to draw a crew chief review.

After a quick review, the call stood, with Young credited with his seventh homer of the season.

"That's a joke," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "That's embarrassing, because the system didn't work tonight. The guy reached over the fence and caught the ball."

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Plouffe's homer No. 10K in franchise history

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BALTIMORE -- Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe made history Friday night, as he connected on the 10,000th home run in franchise history in the seventh inning of Minnesota's 9-1 loss to the Orioles.

Plouffe cracked his 59th career homer with a solo blast off right-hander Miguel Gonzalez to snap a six-game home run drought for the Twins that was their longest since Aug. 18-24, 2012.

It was homer No. 10,000 for the franchise, which dates back to 1901 as the Washington Senators before they moved to Minnesota in 1961. The Twins, who were able to retrieve the ball to put on display at Target Field, also became the 16th organization to reach that mark.

Plouffe said he was honored to be a part of history, but said much of the credit goes to the late Harmon Killebrew, as the Hall of Famer hit a team record 559 homers from 1954-74.

"It was pretty incredible to be a part of history," Plouffe said. "I think how many he was a part of and how incredible that is. I was just in the right place at the right time."

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Gibson hopes to right ship against Orioles

Gibson hopes to right ship against Orioles

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When Orioles manager Buck Showalter walked into Oriole Park at Camden Yards before Baltimore's series opener against the Twins on Friday, pitching coach Dave Wallace and bullpen coach Dom Chiti were already breaking down the unfamiliar Minnesota hitters.

There were about six of them, the O's manager estimated, that his team had never faced before despite playing in the American League. Because of a scheduling oddity and the expansion of Interleague Play, the Orioles went nearly four months without seeing the Twins before they welcomed them to Baltimore on Monday.

The four-game series continues on Saturday when the O's send Chris Tillman to the mound against Twins starting pitcher Kyle Gibson.

"It's been a challenge," Showalter said before Friday's game. "What will be a challenge in the last game of the series is if they have eight or 10 guys show up. This time of year, advanced scouting is really a challenge when Sept. 1 rolls around."

Tillman has been fantastic recently for the O's, turning in 13 quality starts in his last 15 outings. His 1.86 ERA since the All-Star break is among the best in the Majors.

The Twins, meanwhile, are testing their youth, and that means that second-year starter Gibson will take the hill. In three of his last five outings, he's given up five earned runs. Still, a second consecutive series against a first-place team -- the Twins just finished a three-game set against the Royals -- is a good experience for a team that's hoping to build for the future.

"It's intense baseball in a pennant race," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. "They're leading their division just like Kansas City was, so it hinges on every pitch, which is fun. The three games in Kansas City could've gone either way, so it was fun baseball. Our guys are getting some big hits. So it's a good experience for them playing pennant-race teams, and hopefully they learn from it and get better."

Twins: Schafer sticks in lineup
Since Minnesota claimed outfielder Jordan Schafer off waivers on Aug. 3, he's been a revelation for a struggling club. He added another hit on Friday, and his continued excellence is making it tough for Gardenhire to take him out of the lineup.

Schafer, who was batting .163 with the Braves, has lifted his average to .238 and has hit five doubles, one triple, stolen 10 bases and driven in nine runs in 22 games since joining the Twins.

"He's been big at the bottom because you want the lineup to roll over," Gardenhire said. "We're just letting him play. We just want to see what he can do. I think he's comfortable here. He's getting a great opportunity because he's not playing for a day and sitting for two. He's playing every day and getting consistent at-bats."

Orioles: Pearce nursing injured abdominal
Steve Pearce left in the fourth inning of the Orioles' 9-1 win against the Twins on Friday with a right abdominal injury. An MRI scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Saturday should tell the O's more.

Pearce, who is batting .289 with a career-high 16 home runs this season, said the injury only bothers him when he swings, and he is optimistic that it won't keep him out long.

"I'm not feeling any pain or anything," Pearce said. "It's just discomfort."

Worth noting
• Trevor Plouffe's solo home run during the Twins' loss on Friday was the 10,000th homer in franchise history.

• Pearce's injury didn't just lay a potentially serious blow on Baltimore, but it also ended a career-long 11-game hitting streak.

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Gardy thinks Mauer pressed for All-Star spot

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BALTIMORE -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire offered up a new theory on Friday on why Joe Mauer uncharacteristically struggled in the first half of the season.

Mauer hit .271/.342/.353 with two homers, 17 doubles and 28 RBIs in 76 games before going on the 15-day disabled list on July 2 with a strained right oblique. But he's been playing much better since his return, hitting .288/.400/.475 with two homers, five doubles and 12 RBIs in 17 games, entering Friday.

"There's no doubt that he was pressing before the All-Star Game," Gardenhire said. "It's the first time in my career as a manager here that I've seen Joe Mauer really want something bad, and that was to play in that All-Star Game. I really think that played a part in it. I don't think he would ever admit to it, but in my opinion it definitely did."

The All-Star Game, which was held at Target Field on July 15, didn't feature Mauer, as the Minnesota native had a down first half and was on the DL at the time. The six-time All-Star still served as an ambassador for the event.

But Mauer downplayed Gardenhire's take on his first half, as he felt there was more to it than simply pressing to make the All-Star team.

"I don't know about that," Mauer said. "I definitely wanted to make the team. But I don't know if it had anything to do with my first half. It's news to me."

Mauer said injuries played a role, and he believes he's still making good contact this year, but a lot of line drives have gone for outs. Mauer is hitting line drives 26.5 percent of the time, which is higher than his career 23.7 percent mark, but is hitting .330 on balls in play, which is lower than his career .347 mark, according to Fangraphs.com.

"It's a combination of a lot of things," Mauer said. "I've lined out quite a bit, and probably more than in the past."

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Streaking Schafer sticking in everyday lineup

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BALTIMORE -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire likes what he's been seeing from outfielder Jordan Schafer and said he plans to continue giving him regular playing time moving forward.

Schafer, who was selected off waivers from the Braves on Aug. 2, has fared well since getting consistent playing time, which wasn't the case in Atlanta given the crowded outfield situation there.

Schafer picked up three hits and a season-high four RBIs in Thursday's 11-5 win over the Royals in 10 innings, and he has been a key contributor offensively while batting down in the order.

He's hitting .328/.411/.438 with five doubles, one triple, nine RBIs and 10 stolen bases in 21 games, entering Friday. It's a major improvement on his .163/.256/.213 line in 63 games with the Braves.

"He's been big at the bottom because you want the lineup to roll over," Gardenhire said. "We're just letting him play. We just want to see what he can do. I think he's comfortable here. He's getting a great opportunity because he's not playing for a day and sitting for two. He's playing every day and getting consistent at-bats."

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Twins go with Fryer, May pairing

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BALTIMORE -- The Twins didn't have the luxury of a getaway day game against the Royals on Thursday, so they didn't land in Baltimore until roughly 4 a.m. ET after playing 10 innings in Kansas City.

But the Twins still rolled out their normal lineup against the Orioles on Friday outside of one change, as manager Ron Gardenhire gave catcher Kurt Suzuki a rest, starting Eric Fryer behind the plate.

Gardenhire said it was also done because he likes to pair rookie right-hander Trevor May with Fryer given their familiarity from their time at Triple-A Rochester. Fryer caught May nine times at Triple-A this year and has now caught three of his four big league starts.

"We played a late night last night and we looked at the pitching matchups here the next few days so this made sense," Gardenhire said. "Fry-man and Mays worked in the Minors together. So it makes sense for everybody involved. It gives Kurt the chance to hang out in the dugout and drive me crazy."

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Twins strike for six in 10th inning to best KC

Schafer's two-run single caps three-hit, four-RBI night at the plate

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Twins strike for six in 10th inning to best KC play video for Twins strike for six in 10th inning to best KC

KANSAS CITY -- The message from manager Ron Gardenhire before Thursday night's game at Kauffman Stadium was clear: the bats must come alive.

His request was granted as the Twins rebounded from back-to-back one-run performances in their 11-5 extra-inning win over the Royals in the series finale.

Minnesota rode a six-run 10th to victory. Eduardo Nunez provided the go-ahead RBI single, but Jordan Schafer and Brian Dozier piled on with two-run hits, while Kurt Suzuki capped the frame with an RBI double.

"We finally had the big inning, got some big hits and kind of spread it around," Gardenhire said. "So a nice win, getting a win here after two really, really tough losses."

Schafer starred for the Twins from the nine-hole. He collected three hits, and his second career four-RBI game.

"We played them tough all series," Schafer said. "We had a couple of games before that we came out on the wrong end, but they were close games -- that's a really good team over there, first-place team. It's good to get a win on the way out of here."

Another late-inning meltdown from the Twins' bullpen allowed for the big inning. Alex Gordon was responsible for Tuesday night's 2-1 walk-off win, and he prolonged Thursday's game, as he belted a homer to right-center off Minnesota reliever Ryan Pressly for a 5-5 tie in the seventh.

But the 'pen rebounded after Gordon's home run to throw four scoreless innings. Gardenhire was hoping to be economical with his bullpen, but the game-tying jack spoiled that plan. Six different relievers combined on the effort with Anthony Swarzak notching the win.

"We've got a one-run lead, we're trying to figure out how to get through our bullpen without using everybody out there, and that lasted one hitter, and we had to end up going with everybody," Gardenhire said.

Minnesota rewarded the bullpen's effort in the 10th against Royals reliever Bruce Chen. Oswaldo Arcia began the inning by smashing a triple into the right-center gap. Back-to-back walks by Trevor Plouffe and pinch-hitter Joe Mauer brought up Nunez, who laced a single up the middle to score a pair. Nunez did not recall what the junk-throwing Chen offered him.

"Seriously? I don't know. It's so slow, the first pitch he threw to me was 83, the second one was 81," Nunez said.

Schafer dumped a two-run single into shallow left to extend the lead to 8-5, Dozier roped a two-run double and Suzuki finished the deluge with a RBI two-bagger.

The offensive outburst came as a relief for a Twins team that stayed competitive in the first two games of the series, but they tallied just two runs.

"We've played three games here, we could have won all three and we could have lost all three, and tonight was no different than the first two," Gardenhire said.

Neither team scored in the first six innings of the first two games. But they combined for four runs in the first frame of the finale.

Kennys Vargas (groundout) and Arcia (single) provided RBIs that scored Dozier and Suzuki, who reached on a single and a double, respectively, for a 2-0 Twins lead.

Kansas City answered with a pair of runs in the bottom half on RBI singles by Gordon and Salvador Perez.

Minnesota snatched the lead back in the fourth inning. This time it was Schafer and Dozier tallying RBI singles to put the Twins up, 4-2.

After shutout second and third innings from Twins starter Tommy Milone, the Royals tacked on runs in the fourth and fifth to even the score at 4.

"That's the most frustrating part is the guys are doing such a good job of putting together good at-bat and scoring runs, and just to give it up pretty much that next half-inning is very frustrating," Milone said.

Schafer put the Twins back in front with an RBI double off Jeremy Guthrie in the sixth that flirted with the right-field line.

"Really, the only pitch I didn't really love was to Schafer, the RBI double in the sixth. It was the only pitch I thought was really bad," Guthrie said.

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Plouffe secures Twins' doubles mark at third

Two-out hit on Wednesday against Royals was his 38th of the season

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Plouffe secures Twins' doubles mark at third play video for Plouffe secures Twins' doubles mark at third

KANSAS CITY -- When Trevor Plouffe sliced a double down the left-field line on Wednesday, he moved into sole possession of the Twins' franchise record for doubles in a season by a third baseman.

Plouffe usurped Corey Koskie (37) with his 38th double of the season in the Twins' 6-1 loss at Kauffman Stadium. The two-out hit in the fifth inning also broke up a perfect game by former Twins pitcher Liam Hendriks, who retired the first 14 batters in order.

"Honestly, the way I see it is, it's an honor to be talked to next to names like Koskie and [Gary] Gaetti. To me that's what's special about it," Plouffe said.

Plouffe slugged 18, 19 and 22 doubles in 2011, '12 and '13, respectively, while averaging 435.7 plate appearances per season. He accumulated 38 doubles in 480 plate appearances entering Thursday.

"More than anything else, what I've seen, is he's just taking what they're giving him," manager Ron Gardenhire said, while also introducing a maturation component. "It's just a matter of more experience at this level, and more confidence in his own ability."

Plouffe acknowledged some changes in his approach -- staying on the ball longer, spraying pitches to all fields -- but ultimately, he has not become a doubles machine on purpose.

"You don't go up there trying to hit doubles, it just kind of happens," Plouffe said.

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Mauer gets planned break for finale with KC

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Mauer gets planned break for finale with KC play video for Mauer gets planned break for finale with KC

KANSAS CITY -- For the first time since returning from the disabled list on Aug. 11, first baseman Joe Mauer's name was absent from the lineup card on Thursday.

This was a mandate handed down by manager Ron Gardenhire before the Twins' series finale with the Royals.

"I told him 'no matter what, you're out. You're going to sit today'," Gardenhire said.

Mauer entered the game in the 10th as a pinch-hitter and drew a walk to load the bases, after falling behind 0-2 against Royals reliever Bruce Chen. Mauer scored on Jordan Schafer's two-run single that broke it open as the Twins scored six times en route to an 11-5 win.

Mauer went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in Minnesota's 6-1 loss on Wednesday. It was his first multi-strikeout game since July 1.

"I watched him last night, I thought he was dragging a little bit last night. He dove all over the place and about killed himself," Gardenhire said.

Mauer entered Thursday batting .288/.391/.475 in 16 games since returning from a strained right oblique that sidelined him for 34 games.

"He's going to have to have a break, he's not as young some of those other guys out there," Gardenhire said.

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Burton enjoys short stint as Twins' setup man

Right-hander fires scoreless eighth against KC with Fien getting a night off

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KANSAS CITY -- Jared Burton returned to a familiar role, one that's preferable to him, on Tuesday night as the Twins' setup man.

Burton tossed a scoreless eighth to preserve a one-run lead in Minnesota's eventual 2-1 walk-off loss to the Royals.

"I think that's when I'm at my best, to be honest with you," said Burton, who struck out a pair and allowed zero baserunners.

Burton set up closer Glen Perkins on a number of occasions early in the season. But of his last 24 appearances, Tuesday was just his second in the eighth inning with his team in a save situation. Casey Fien normally sets up Perkins, but a laborious eighth inning on Sunday made Fien unavailable.

"It's a role I'm used to, but Casey's been throwing the ball so good all year, it's just kind of went into his hands," Burton said. "I struggled early on, and then I started throwing the ball better, but [Casey's] been pretty consistent all year."

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Fien would be available if needed on Wednesday. Although, Burton still welcomes any opportunities to be the setup man in the future.

"Of course, any time you can have a significant role it's always a plus," Burton said.

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Buxton among Twins prospects headed to AFL

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KANSAS CITY -- Byron Buxton, MLB.com's No. 1 prospect, headlined a group of six Twins prospects on the Arizona Fall League rosters that were announced on Tuesday.

Buxton's participation in the six-team league that begins on Oct. 7 comes as an encouraging sign, considering he was shut down for the Minor League season two weeks ago due to a concussion.

"That's what they're saying, that that concussion is OK. I've heard that," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "That will be good that he goes down there and gets back into baseball."

The concussion and a wrist injury zapped Buxton's production and playing time this season. He only played 31 games and batted .240/.313/.405 with six steals at Class A Advanced Fort Myers. This after a breakout 2013 campaign when he played 125 games and batted .334/.424/.520 with 55 steals at Class A Cedar Rapids and Fort Myers.

Eddie Rosario, MLB.com's No. 64 prospect, will join Buxton on the Salt River Rafters, the Twins' AFL affiliate. Max Kepler, Taylor Rogers, Jason Adam and Mason Melotakis round out Minnesota's selections.

The Twins were one of only five teams with at least two MLB.com Top 100 prospects chosen.

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Hughes denied 15th win with Royals' late rally

Righty labors in decisive six-run 8th after seven scoreless frames

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Hughes denied 15th win with Royals' late rally play video for Hughes denied 15th win with Royals' late rally

KANSAS CITY -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire shook his head, tossed his chewed gum into the dirt below the top of the steps where he was perched, then ambled into the back of the dimly-lit visiting dugout.

It was an appropriate response for the completion of an immensely maddening six-run eighth inning that gave the Royals a 6-1 win on Wednesday night at Kauffman Stadium.

"Unfortunately for us, it's just one of those frustrating innings, frustrating games that we're not going to be able to get back," said Twins starter Phil Hughes, who took the brunt of the misfortune by allowing five hits in the eighth.

The frame began with so much promise, as Hughes took the mound after seven scoreless innings and with Minnesota up 1-0. He had allowed just two singles, walked zero and used 70 pitches to that point. The right-hander looked destined for his fifth straight start allowing one or zero runs.

"I think regardless of how the inning transpires, it's the same level of disappointment," Hughes said. "Trying to go out there and protect a one-run lead going into the eighth, knowing my pitch count's in good shape to probably finish the thing off -- that part's frustrating, regardless of how they do it."

Raul Ibanez blooped a single into center, breaking a streak of 18 straight batters Hughes had faced without allowing a hit. Pinch-runner Lorenzo Cain swiped second base, a key play that forced the Twins' infield out of double-play depth and into the shift for Mike Moustakas. The Royals' third baseman beat it with a weak single to second base, something that frustrated Gardenhire after the game.

"We talked about it, we've got to move in there, we've got to shorten it up a little bit ... that's two times where it's happened to us where we just need to shorten up and get an out there," Gardenhire said.

Two batters later, Jarrod Dyson laid down a perfect bunt to score Cain. Nori Aoki put the Royals ahead, 2-1, when he slapped a single over the outstretched glove of Eduardo Escobar. A final well-placed single by Alcides Escobar spelled the end for Hughes, as left-hander Brian Duensing replaced him.

Duensing walked Alex Gordon, bringing on Casey Fien, who surrendered the final four runs -- a two-run single by Billy Butler and a two-run triple by Salvador Perez.

"The bullpen came in and had a hard time," Gardenhire said. "Casey was overthrowing the ball, it looked like he was trying to throw 100 miles an hour and a couple of big hits [against] him, and there you have it."

The first seven innings played out precisely as they did in the Twins' 2-1 loss on Tuesday: both pitchers shutting down the opposition in the first six frames, then Minnesota breaking through with an RBI hit in the seventh.

It was Joe Mauer on Tuesday, providing the go-ahead single. Oswaldo Arcia stepped up on Wednesday with an RBI double in the right-center gap off Royals starter Liam Hendriks to score Kennys Vargas for a 1-0 lead.

Hendriks, who was with the Twins from 2011-13, logged seven solid innings in a no-decision. Coincidentally, it was the offseason acquisition of Hughes in 2013 that forced Minnesota to cut ties with Hendriks.

"I was designated for Phil Hughes," Hendriks said. "When [general manager] Terry Ryan called me on the phone, he said it was a numbers thing and we would love to have you back if you clear [waivers] and everything like that. But we just signed Phil Hughes and we need a roster spot. It's really funny how it works out."

Hughes allowed zero walks with four strikeouts. The last time he issued more than one walk in a game was June 1, 16 starts ago. He made it three straight starts without issuing a free pass on Wednesday.

"[The loss] doesn't take away from what Phil Hughes did, he threw the ball great," Gardenhire said. "We have scored two runs in two games here and that's not going to win very many games."

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Perkins yields first homer to a lefty on slider

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Perkins yields first homer to a lefty on slider play video for Perkins yields first homer to a lefty on slider

KANSAS CITY -- Tuesday night was a peculiar one for Glen Perkins.

First, the Twins' closer, who's saved games at a superb 84 percent in his career, blew a rare one in the team's 2-1 loss to the Royals. Second, he lost the game via walk-off for only the second time ever. And third, the eight-year veteran allowed a home run to a left-handed hitter (Alex Gordon) on his slider for the first time in the Majors, according to BrooksBaseball.com.

"Perk's been as good as they get, just didn't work out, they put a nice swing on it, end up [with] a big walk-off for them," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said after the loss.

On Sept. 10, 2011, Brandon Inge broke a 2-2 tie with a walk-off home run off Perkins, a moment the left-hander remembered and brought up after Tuesday's loss.

Gordon delivered the blow on Tuesday, a two-run shot that soared into the right-field bleachers and erased a 1-0 deficit.

It was slider No. 556 Perkins had thrown to left-handers in his career, none of the previous 555 resulted in a home run.

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Rochester's season to dictate Twins' callups

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KANSAS CITY -- On Monday, the Twins can increase their roster size from 25 to 40. But Triple-A Rochester's postseason push has complicated who will be joining, and when they'll be joining, the Major League club.

The Red Wings, who have six games left on their schedule, enter a two-game set with the Syracuse Chiefs beginning on Wednesday. Rochester remains 4 1/2 games behind the Chiefs in the International League North, and it trails the Pawtucket Red Sox by just two games for the Wild Card.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire hinted that if the Red Wings make the postseason, any potential callups could wait until after the Triple-A club's season ends.

"If we were in a pennant race, it does make a difference, being able to get players here in a pennant race to help us win games, but we're not really in a pennant race and [letting] them finish up their season, try to get in the playoffs is very important for them, Rochester has earned that," Gardenhire said before Wednesday's game against the Royals.

"And the players that are there would probably like to get in the playoffs, so I think [general manager] Terry [Ryan] and the guys do the right thing there and let them have their shot at it. You know what? Those guys have worked very hard to try to get to the playoffs, you never want to take it away from them."

Gardenhire said he expected Ryan to observe three more Rochester games before "he'll come back with a plan."

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Twins bested by late jack in Nolasco's fine start

Righty fires seven shutout frames, but Perkins yields blast in 9th

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KANSAS CITY -- There was no better microcosm for Ricky Nolasco's season than Tuesday night.

After dominating the Royals in arguably his best start with the Twins, Nolasco exited with a one-run lead in the seventh inning, seemingly en route to just his second win since June 4.

But two innings later, Alex Gordon wrote the latest chapter in Nolasco's rough season by belting a two-run, walk-off home run off Twins closer Glen Perkins in the Royals' 2-1 win at Kauffman Stadium.

"We got a really good game out of Ricky and I feel bad for him, because he pitched seven shutout innings and threw the ball really well, and he and the team doesn't have anything to show for it," Perkins said following his team's third straight loss.

Nolasco, who signed a four-year, $49 million contract with Minnesota last offseason, entered the game with a 5.96 ERA, which ranked 115th out of 116 pitchers with at least 110 innings, according to FanGraphs.

But on Tuesday there was no resemblance to the pitcher who allowed 15 runs in his previous three starts, all losses. Nolasco used his four prior matchups with the Royals this season (2-2, 4.21 ERA) to keep them off-balance. He surrendered a season-low three hits, all singles, and walked one, while striking out six for the second straight start.

"That was the best we've seen him," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "After he got through the first three innings, everything really started clicking for him."

Those first three innings were miserable for Nolasco. Not because of the results, but because of how he felt in the sweltering Kansas City heat.

"He was ready to take himself out of the game, he said he was fighting the flu bug like everybody else around here and he said he sweated through three shirts and was feeling terrible," Gardenhire said.

The heat initially exacerbated Nolasco's discomfort, but it eventually allowed him to sweat out whatever was plaguing him by the fourth inning. At this point, feeling rejuvenated, Nolasco began picking apart the Royals hitters. He allowed two hits the rest of the way, and did not let a runner reach second base. Five of his six strikeouts came after the third.

Gardenhire addressed the quick change in Nolasco.

"But then, all of a sudden he started feeling better, the ball started coming out of his hand better and, you know, a great performance for him to get through seven innings," Gardenhire said.

Joe Mauer put Nolasco in position for a win -- and the Twins up 1-0 -- with an opposite-field RBI single in the seventh inning. Mauer's hit scored Brian Dozier, who doubled down the left-field line off Royals starter Danny Duffy to start the inning.

Gardenhire opted for reliever Jared Burton in the eighth, despite Nolasco's pitch count at just 97. Burton responded with a scoreless frame.

Alcides Escobar began the bottom of the ninth by poking a single into center field, much to the frustration of Perkins.

"It's too bad, that was a good pitch to him. But sometimes you make good pitches and they get hit and sometimes you make bad pitches and they don't," Perkins said. "I threw a good pitch and it got hit, and I threw a bad pitch and it got hit."

The bad pitch was the second offering to Gordon. The southpaw let an 0-1 slider see too much of the plate, and Gordon drilled it into the right-field bleachers.

"I threw a first-pitch fastball away and he took it, and then, that's a spot where I'm probably trying to throw in the strike zone, but not in the middle of the strike zone," said Perkins, who blew his fifth save of the season.

Minnesota started its three-game set with Kansas City in a completely different fashion than its previous series with Detroit played out.

The Twins churned out 57 hits and 42 runs in four games vs. the Tigers. Every contest went at least three hours and 12 minutes, with the finale lasting four hours and 10 minutes, the longest nine-inning game in franchise history since 1961.

The Twins eked out just five hits and a single run on Tuesday night, and completed the game in just two hours and 38 minutes.

{"content":["top_pitching_performances" ] }
{"content":["top_pitching_performances" ] }

Gardy riding offensive wave with lineup plan

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KANSAS CITY -- Perhaps the most enjoyable part of the Twins' recent four-game hitting surge for manager Ron Gardenhire was the simplicity it brought to his job.

Over the last five games, Gardenhire has made out the same exact lineup card four times, including Tuesday's series opener against the Royals.

"We've actually just come in and just hit print. It's the lineup we've been doing for a while, and we mix in a couple of guys, but we're able to actually write a lineup out with [the] one, two, three, four, five [hitters] all in the same place finally," Gardenhire said.

Gardenhire feels the consistent lineup contributed to the outburst against Detroit in the previous series, when the Twins collected 57 hits and 42 runs in four games. That's 14.3 hits and 10.5 runs per game.

"Guys aren't looking all over the place for where they're hitting today, and that's kind of nice," Gardenhire said. "That makes it a lot easier when you don't have to do a lot of changing and everything, and you can run them out there and they can get consistent. The lineup feels pretty good right now."

In Minnesota's two wins in that series, it produced 20- and 12-run games.

"We definitely swung the bats good, and we had a little momentum going, and hopefully, we'll carry that over into this series," Gardenhire said.

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Twins extend partnership with Triple-A affiliate

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Twins extend partnership with Triple-A affiliate

KANSAS CITY -- The Twins announced a two-year extension in their partnership with the Rochester Red Wings, the club's Triple-A affiliate, which will extend to at least the 2016 season.

Twins general manager Terry Ryan, Red Wings president and chief executive and operating officer Naomi Silver, along with chairman Gary Larder made the announcement at Frontier Field, home of the Red Wings, in the first inning of the team's 4-2 win on Monday night.

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Inbox: What's the key to Hughes' turnaround?

Beat reporter Rhett Bollinger answers Twins fans' questions

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Inbox: What's the key to Hughes' turnaround? play video for Inbox: What's the key to Hughes' turnaround?

MINNEAPOLIS -- It's the dog days of August, and the schedule doesn't get any easier for the Twins, who remain mired in last place in the American League Central.

The offense has carried Minnesota this month, as the club leads the Majors in runs scored in August by a wide margin. But the Twins still play plenty of teams in contention the rest of the way, including a series against the Royals, two series against the Tigers and Indians, as well as four-game sets against the Angels and Orioles.

The Twins need to finish 15-17 the rest of the way to avoid their fourth straight season with at least 90 losses. So it'll be interesting to see how they fare down the stretch, and with that in mind, here's this week's edition of the Inbox:

What's been the key to Phil Hughes' success? There's been a lot made about a change of scenery leaving the Yankees, but is there more to it than that?
-- Jacob G., Anoka, Minn.

Hughes has undoubtedly been the club's best pitcher this season and one of the best in baseball, according to Fangraphs.com's version of Wins Above Replacement. Hughes ranks fifth among all Major League pitchers, with a 4.9 WAR this season.

Hughes has posted the best walk rate in his career by far, walking just 0.8 batters per nine innings after walking 2.6 batters per nine last year. He's also posted his best strikeouts per nine as a starter, punching out 8.1 per nine innings. And home runs, which plagued Hughes at homer-friendly Yankee Stadium, haven't been an issue, either, as he's given up a career-low 0.7 homers per nine innings.

The move to the more pitcher-friendly Target Field has helped, but it goes deeper than that. Hughes is also getting ground balls a career-high 36.8 percent of the time after inducing grounders just 30.8 percent of the time last year.

Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson deserves some credit for helping Hughes with his mechanics, and it also appears Hughes has found the right assortment of pitches to throw. Hughes scrapped his slider altogether and hasn't thrown a changeup since April.

Hughes has instead thrown his cutter 22.2 percent of the time to keep hitters off his fastball after not throwing it at all last season, and he has mixed in his curveball 14.5 percent of the time after throwing it 8.6 percent of the time in '13.

Add it all up and Hughes has looked like a bargain for Minnesota after he signed a three-year, $24 million deal in the offseason coming off a 5.19 ERA with New York.

Who could be called up in September once rosters expand?
-- Thomas L., St. Paul, Minn.

Twins general manager Terry Ryan is currently at Triple-A Rochester scouting players, and he said last week that he expects a handful to be recalled once the rosters expand on Sept. 1.

Expect at least two catchers to be called up, as Chris Herrmann and Josmil Pinto appear to be locks to be recalled. Outfielder Aaron Hicks has also played well in the Minors since his demotion in late June, and he is expected to be called up.

Minnesota will also bring up a few pitchers, and reliever Stephen Pryor, who was acquired from Seattle for Kendrys Morales, is expected to be among that group. Pryor has posted a 1.02 ERA in 17 2/3 innings with Rochester. Other pitchers on the 40-man roster, such as Kris Johnson and Logan Darnell, could also be recalled to pitch in long relief.

The wild card remains right-hander Alex Meyer, who is ranked as the No. 30 overall prospect by MLB.com. The Twins have been careful with him all season, limiting his pitch counts, as he's coming off a shoulder injury last season. But Meyer still could be recalled to get a taste of the big leagues as a reliever to limit his innings down the stretch.

What have been the early impressions of rookie Kennys Vargas?
-- Dan B., Eden Prairie, Minn.

Vargas has been impressive at the plate since being called up from Double-A New Britain on July 31, as he's played in 23 games and has 23 RBIs. The imposing 6-foot-5 slugger is hitting .337/.369/.537.

Vargas has shown off power with four homers and seven doubles, but he has also hit balls the other way with authority from both sides of the plate. He said his approach is to try to drive the ball to the middle of the field, and sometimes it leads to him driving the ball into the gaps the other way.

Defensively, Vargas is still a work in progress at first base, but with Joe Mauer entrenched at that position, he doesn't figure to be an everyday player there. Vargas, 24, seems more likely to be the club's designated hitter moving forward, as he can't play any other position but first base, and Ryan indicated the Twins don't plan to move Mauer off first.

It's been an impressive start to Vargas' career in a small sample size, but teams will start adjusting to him soon, and it'll be interesting to see how he fares the rest of the way.

Danny Santana is having a great year as a rookie, but he has been playing mostly center field instead of shortstop. What do the Twins see as his permanent position?
-- Tyler K., Minneapolis

Santana has been one of the club's best players this season as a rookie, hitting .324/.361/.488 with six homers and 34 RBIs in 72 games. But with a lack of depth in center field and the emergence of Eduardo Escobar at shortstop, Santana has made 47 starts in center and just 19 at shortstop.

But Byron Buxton is the club's center fielder of the future, so Santana isn't expected to stick there long term. The Twins still view him as a shortstop, so manager Ron Gardenhire has indicated he'll continue to mix him in at shortstop down the stretch to give him more chances there.

Buxton's timeline to the Majors has been pushed back due to his wrist injuries this season and his recent concussion suffered in an outfield collision on Aug. 13, but he's still expected to make his debut at some point next year. The hope is Buxton recovers from his concussion quick enough to play in the Arizona Fall League in October.

With Mike Pelfrey still under contract for next season, what do the Twins plan to do with him? Any chance he could be converted to a reliever?
-- Derek S., Rochester, Minn.

Pelfrey signed a two-year, $11 million deal before the season and posted a 7.99 ERA in five starts before undergoing season-ending right elbow surgery in June. Pelfrey is expected to be healthy and ready to go for Spring Training.

Given the success of Royals right-hander Wade Davis making the transition to the bullpen, Ryan was asked recently if he could see a similar move coming with Pelfrey. But Ryan said the Twins don't plan on moving Pelfrey to the bullpen.

Pelfrey will head into spring with a chance to compete for a spot in the rotation, and Minnesota will decide what to do with him from there. I think it makes sense to try him out as a reliever given his velocity and propensity to induce ground balls, but the Twins think it's too early to make that call, and Pelfrey has indicated he'd like to remain a starter.

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Plouffe, Santana share AL Player of the Week honors

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Plouffe, Santana share AL Player of the Week honors play video for Plouffe, Santana share AL Player of the Week honors

After the Twins' offense turned out a high-scoring weekend, two Minnesota players -- third baseman Trevor Plouffe and center fielder Danny Santana -- have been named the American League co-Players of the Week.

It's the first honor for each of the players -- who become Minnesota's second and third honorees this season after Chris Colabello won on April 7 -- and the first time Twins teammates shared the honor since Jason Kubel and Delmon Young on Oct. 4, 2009.

Plouffe hit .367 (11-for-30) with five doubles, two homers, 10 RBIs and six runs, while Santana hit .378 (14-for-37) with two doubles, two triples, one homer, six RBIs and seven runs over the week. Santana, now riding a nine-game hitting streak that includes five multihit games, is the first Minnesota rookie to earn the award since Carlos Gomez on Sept. 15, 2008.

Plouffe was tied for first in the big leagues in doubles, while Santana led all batters in hits and was tied for first in triples and total bases (23).

In Friday's rout of the Tigers, the duo combined to go 6-for-12 with a double, two homers, seven RBIs and six runs. Plouffe has already set career highs in doubles (37), triples (two), RBIs (65) and runs (57) scored this season.

Twins teammates Brian Dozier (11 walks), Oswaldo Arcia (three homers and eight RBIs) and Kennys Vargas (.371 average, five doubles, eight RBIs) were also recognized for their efforts this week.

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Pino headed to DL with minor elbow strain

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Pino headed to DL with minor elbow strain play video for Pino headed to DL with minor elbow strain

MINNEAPOLIS -- Right-hander Yohan Pino underwent an MRI exam after feeling some elbow discomfort during his start in Game 1 of Saturday's doubleheader, and he was diagnosed with a minor strain of his ulnar collateral ligament.

Pino came up as the club's 26th man on the roster for the twin bill and gave up four runs (one earned) over five innings to get his second career win. He was optioned back to Rochester after the game, but Pino reported that his elbow began to flare up during the third inning, and he will remain in Minnesota to be treated by the club's medical staff at Target Field.

He'll be placed on the Minor League disabled list instead of the Major League disabled list because he was technically sent back to Rochester after his start.

"They think it'll be two to four weeks before he's able to throw here," Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said. "But as the 26th man, he has to go back. It's a stipulation as part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement he has to be DL'd at Rochester."

Pino was a candidate to return once rosters expand on Sept. 1 but could miss the rest of the season with the injury. Pino, 30, is 2-5 with a 5.07 ERA in 11 starts with the Twins this season. He also went 10-2 with a 2.47 ERA in 16 appearances, including nine starts at Rochester.

"He was tremendous in the Minor Leagues and handled himself up here," Antony said. "He competed and kept us in games."

{"content":["injury" ] }
{"content":["injury" ] }

Twins unable to corral heavy-hitting Tigers

Bullpen surrenders eight runs after shaky start for Gibson

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Twins unable to corral heavy-hitting Tigers play video for Twins unable to corral heavy-hitting Tigers

MINNEAPOLIS -- On a positive note, the Twins scored a combined 42 runs against the Tigers in their four-game series, while also picking up their highest hit total in a series since 2003 with 57.

But as good as the offense was, the pitching was just as bad, as the Twins gave up 31 runs on 60 hits to mark the most hits given up in a four-game set in franchise history.

That trend continued on Sunday afternoon, as the Twins knocked reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer out after five innings, but right-hander Kyle Gibson and the bullpen struggled in a 13-4 loss at Target Field. It helped the Tigers earn a series split in the longest nine-inning game for the Twins this season at four hours and 10 minutes.

"The [hitters] are doing fine, but our pitchers, we need to get more out of them," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Every time we give ourselves a chance we usually do pretty decent. We're getting too many short starts and so we need to get better at that. The hitters are doing fine. You just got to have both sides of it."

The Twins, who scored 38 runs through the first three games of the series, got to Scherzer for three runs on seven hits, but he was still able to come away with his 15th win.

Gibson didn't have his best stuff, as he surrendered five runs on eight hits and four walks over 4 2/3 innings to fall to 11-10 with a 4.31 ERA on the year. Gibson has now given up five earned runs in three of his past four starts for a 6.35 ERA over that span.

"It's one of those starts where six or seven innings and three runs would've been good, given the lack of fastball command I had," Gibson said. "So I think the more I pitch that's the consistency I'm looking for."

The Tigers struck first with a three-run third inning, keyed by a pair of RBI singles from Ian Kinsler and Torii Hunter. Victor Martinez grounded into a potential inning-ending double play but second baseman Brian Dozier made an errant flip to second base to allow Kinsler to score from third.

The Twins came back to tie it with three runs in the bottom of the frame. Danny Santana brought home two runs with a double before scoring on a single from Dozier.

But Detroit took over from there, scoring two runs in fifth, sixth and seventh innings and four more in the eighth to put the game out of reach.

"To get a split out of this, we'll take it, given how the first two games went," Scherzer said.

Gibson gave up the two runs in the fifth on Martinez's RBI single off the wall in left and Alex Avila's RBI groundout. Gibson exited with two on and two out, and reliever Brian Duensing came in to get out of the jam.

But Duensing served up a two-run blast in the sixth to Martinez, who had four RBIs on the afternoon. Detroit added two more runs in the seventh on a two-run shot from Rajai Davis off right-hander Samuel Deduno. The Tigers tacked on four more in the eighth on an RBI single from Eugenio Suarez and a three-run triple from Hunter.

The Twins had chances against the Tigers, including in Scherzer's final inning. Trevor Plouffe connected on a deep drive to left-center field with two on and two out but Davis made the catch at the warning track to end the inning.

Minnesota loaded the bases against reliever Al Alburquerque with one out in the sixth but Dozier flied out to shallow left field before left-hander Phil Coke was brought in to face Joe Mauer. Mauer worked the count to 3-2 but struck out to leave the bases loaded.

"They're all ifs," Gardenhire said. "You got to do it and get a big hit. We had a couple chances."

The Twins cashed in during the seventh on an RBI groundout from Kurt Suzuki after Plouffe's team-leading 37th double of the year moved him into a tie with Corey Koskie for the club record for doubles by a third baseman. But it wasn't enough, as Minnesota's bullpen gave up eight runs.

"We didn't have many good things out of the bullpen," Gardenhire said. "I think those guys are absolutely worn out. This series was a lot of baseball in a short period of time and our starters didn't get too deep into the games."

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Twins settle for split as May takes loss vs. Tigers

Right-hander allows five runs before exiting in sixth inning of nightcap

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Twins settle for split as May takes loss vs. Tigers play video for Twins settle for split as May takes loss vs. Tigers

MINNEAPOLIS -- It's been baby steps for Twins rookie right-hander Trevor May.

The highly regarded prospect has been incrementally better in his three starts since being called up from Triple-A Rochester, but the results still haven't quite been there.

With May on the mound, the Twins couldn't pull off a sweep in their split doubleheader against the Tigers on Saturday night, as he couldn't protect a two-run lead in his third career start in an 8-6 loss in Game 2 at Target Field.

May, who had walked 13 batters in nine innings heading into the start, didn't walk any this time, but surrendered five runs on 11 hits over a career-high 5 1/3 innings to fall to 0-3 with an 8.79 ERA. He said he needs to fine-tune his fastball command, but his curveball was better this time out.

"It was slightly better than last time," May said. "I felt comfortable throwing the ball over the plate, and not giving up any free passes was definitely a plus. But at this point, it's making adjustments and making pitches to get guys out, and I don't think I did that very well."

The Twins combined to score 32 runs in the first two games of the series, including their 12-4 win in Game 1 on Saturday, but came up short against right-hander Justin Verlander despite scoring four times against him in his 5 2/3 innings of work.

"We put a few runs on him and battled him pretty good," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "But he's tough."

Trevor Plouffe led the offense for the Twins with three hits, including a pair of doubles against Verlander. He now has 36 doubles on the season, which ranks as the fourth-highest mark in a season by a Twins third baseman in club history.

"This is a lineup that's really locked in right now," Verlander said. "They hit some good pitches. That's what happens what you face a hot lineup."

The Tigers opened the scoring in the second with an RBI single from Bryan Holaday, but May was able to pitch himself out of a jam with runners on second and third that inning.

The Twins tied it in the bottom half of the frame, with Plouffe doubling with two outs and scoring on a single from Kurt Suzuki, who snapped an 0-for-18 skid. Minnesota had a chance for a big inning after Kennys Vargas opened with a single, but he was doubled off first on a line drive hit to second by Oswaldo Arcia.

The Tigers scored again in the third on an RBI single from J.D. Martinez with two outs after an overturned call at third base involving Torii Hunter went Detroit's way to keep the inning alive.

"We had to go out there and come with a little more fight," Hunter said. "We lost the last two, and we lost big."

But Minnesota took a two-run lead with a three-run third inning against Verlander. Joe Mauer brought home a run with a double to put runners at second and third with nobody out. Verlander struck out Vargas and Arcia, but Plouffe came through with a two-run double.

Detroit made it a one-run game in the fifth on a run-scoring double play hit into by Miguel Cabrera. May got through the inning and was in line for his first career win, but he came back out for the sixth and struggled.

May gave up a go-ahead two-run single to Eugenio Suarez, who broke his bat on the play, and was removed for reliever Jared Burton.

"The kid jammed the guy up the middle, and he blooped it," Gardenhire said. "And that's the way it goes."

Burton was able to escape without any further damage, but he surrendered a two-run single to Nick Castellanos with two outs in the seventh to give the Tigers two insurance runs.

"Usually Burton puts the hitter away," Gardenhire said. "He made a decent pitch on it, and [Castellanos] hit it down the line."

The Twins scored in the seventh against reliever Blaine Hardy on an RBI groundout from Vargas, but the Tigers got the run back in the eighth on an RBI single from Cabrera off reliever Samuel Deduno.

Brian Dozier's one-out RBI double off Joe Nathan in the ninth gave the Twins two at-bats with the tying run at the plate, but Nathan retired Mauer and Vargas without further damage for his 27th save.

"Six runs should be enough," May said. "From here, it's about stringing those zeros together and getting some 'Ws' in the win column."

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Twins' bats stay red hot in matinee win over Tigers

Pino fans six over five frames to pick up victory as the 26th man

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Twins' bats stay red hot in matinee win over Tigers play video for Twins' bats stay red hot in matinee win over Tigers

MINNEAPOLIS -- After becoming the first team in the Majors to score 20 runs in a game on Friday night, it would've been easy for the Twins to ease up heading into their split doubleheader against the Tigers on Saturday.

Instead, the Twins picked up right where they left off, as the offense again pounded the Tigers in a 12-4 win in the first game of the twin bill at Target Field. Minnesota racked up 14 hits and six walks, as Chris Parmelee was the only Twins position player without a hit.

"Baseball goes like that sometimes," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Hitting is contagious. You can feel it in the dugout. These guys are anxious to go up there and swing. It happens sometimes."

After scoring 20 runs on 20 hits on Friday, the Twins knocked around Tigers right-hander Buck Farmer, who became the second straight Detroit starting pitcher to last just 1 1/3 innings.

Kennys Vargas paced the offense with a career-high five RBIs, while Joe Mauer and Jordan Schafer added three RBIs apiece. Eduardo Escobar also picked up three hits a day after setting a career-high with five hits.

"It's fun," Mauer said. "I've been on both sides of those -- and it's a lot more fun on our side. Hopefully, we can keep it going. Guys are having good at-bats up and down the lineup. When that happens, it's a lot of fun."

Minnesota scored in a hurry in the first inning on an RBI single by Mauer that scored Brian Dozier from first base, as he was running on the pitch.

The Twins broke out for six more runs in the second, chasing Farmer after he recorded just one out in the inning. Minnesota loaded the bases with nobody out and Schafer brought home three runs with a triple.

After Danny Santana struck out, Dozier walked before Mauer plated Schafer and Dozier with a double to left field. Reliever Pat McCoy replaced Farmer, but promptly served up an RBI double to Vargas to give the Twins their third inning with at least six runs scored in the series.

"I was just working behind hitters," Farmer said. "I think that was the thing that was most disappointing from my perspective, the fact that they needed me to go longer than I did."

The Twins padded their lead with two more runs in the third inning. Dozier brought home the first run with a double down the left-field line to knock McCoy out of the game. Reliever Kyle Lobstein came in for his Major League debut and intentionally walked Mauer to load the bases for Vargas, who came through with a sacrifice fly.

The offense backed right-hander Yohan Pino, who was recalled from Triple-A Rochester to make the start as the club's 26th player on the roster. Pino went five innings, giving up four runs (one earned) on six hits and two walks to get his second career big league win.

"It was good to have the team score so many runs," Pino said. "It helped me feel comfortable."

The Tigers scored in the second on an RBI double by Nick Castellanos, who was thrown out at third trying to stretch it to a triple. They scored three unearned runs in the fifth, keyed by a throwing error by Dozier on a forceout play at second base.

All three runs in the fifth came with two outs on three straight RBI singles by Ian Kinsler, Ezequiel Carrera and Miguel Cabrera. But Pino was able to get out of a bases-loaded jam to end the inning.

"Pino battled really hard," Gardenhire said. "He got through it."

The Twins broke the game wide open in the seventh, as Vargas connected on a three-run double off Lobstein to right-center field.

"I try to be more focused with men on base, because it's very important for the team to put the ball in play," Vargas said. "I try to make contact and I think middle all the time. I hit that one good."

The rookie has 22 RBIs in 21 career games, which is the most since Albert Pujols had 22 RBIs in his first 21 career games in 2001 with the Cardinals.

"He's swinging the bat great," Mauer said. "He puts together good at-bats and is driving in runs. So that's always nice to see."

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Arcia spends night at hospital with his infant

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Arcia spends night at hospital with his infant play video for Arcia spends night at hospital with his infant

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins outfielder Oswaldo Arcia was held out of the lineup for Game 1 of Saturday's doubleheader against the Tigers, after spending most of the night at the hospital to tend to his baby, Oswell, who was sick.

Oswell, who was born on July 29, is fine after staying the night in the hospital, according to Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. But Arcia got only about an hour of sleep.

"He was at the hospital pretty much all night," Gardenhire said. "Everything is fine and the baby is fine. But him and his wife were at the hospital pretty much all night. So he's here, but he's just a little gassed right now and is working on just an hour of sleep last night."

Arcia has been on a hot streak recently, with six homers and 14 RBIs over his last 10 games entering Saturday. He was back in the lineup for Game 2, starting in right field and hitting fifth.

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Gardenhire: 2015 managerial plans still not discussed

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MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire downplayed a report in the Minneapolis Star Tribune that stated he'll return to manage the club in 2015.

Gardenhire, who is under contract through next season, said he hasn't officially discussed his future with Twins general manager Terry Ryan and won't until after the season.

"I don't pay attention to it," Gardenhire said. "I don't worry about it. I talk to Terry Ryan about it. We'll talk at the end of the year as always. Nothing has been talked about. I worry about that stuff when the season is over with."

Ryan told the newspaper that he expects Gardenhire to return and didn't retract his statement on Friday, but said that nothing has been determined yet.

"There are things need to be discussed and we'll do it at the end of the year like last year," Ryan said. "We still have things to sit down and discuss and make sure he's happy with me and I'm happy with him. There's a lot of season to play here. Let's see how things go. There's no guarantees for anybody's job, including mine."

The Twins entered Friday's game against the Tigers with a 56-70 record and are on pace for their fourth straight season with at least 90 losses.

Gardenhire, who has been managing the club since 2002, is the second-longest tenured manager in the Majors, behind Angels skipper Mike Scioscia. He reached win No. 1,000 earlier this season, joining Tom Kelly as one of only two managers to accomplish the feat with the Twins.

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Twins' offense erupts for 20 runs to rout Tigers

Minnesota piles on with six-run second inning, nine-run sixth

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Twins' offense erupts for 20 runs to rout Tigers play video for Twins' offense erupts for 20 runs to rout Tigers

MINNEAPOLIS -- It's not very often that Twins manager Ron Gardenhire is at a loss of words.

But after his team's performance against the Tigers on Friday night, Gardenhire couldn't quite come up with the words to explain it.

The Twins shook off their recent woes with runners in scoring position, breaking out offensively for a six-run second inning and a nine-run sixth to rout the Tigers, 20-6, at Target Field. The Twins, who also had 20 hits, became the first team in the Majors to score 20 runs in a game this season.

"I don't know how to describe that ballgame," Gardenhire said. "A lot of runs were scored and balls were flying everywhere."

It set a season high for runs scored for the Twins, surpassing the 16 they scored against the White Sox on Aug. 3. That was also the same date the Twins last had a nine-run inning.

It was also the first time the Twins had two innings with at least six runs since doing it on Sept. 4, 2012, against the White Sox in an 18-9 win. The last time the Twins had 20 runs was May 21, 2009, against the White Sox in a 20-1 win.

"It's one of those once a season, maybe once every couple seasons games for us," said Trevor Plouffe, who went 3-for-6 with a homer, a double and three RBIs. "We kept taking good at-bats and didn't give any away."

The Twins saw every position player but Kurt Suzuki come up with a hit. They started their six-run rally in the second against left-hander Robbie Ray with three straight doubles from Kennys Vargas, Oswaldo Arcia and Plouffe before Eduardo Escobar launched a two-run homer. Jordan Schafer followed with a single to set the stage for a two-run blast from Danny Santana.

"It definitely seemed like they were sitting on offspeed," Ray said. "They knew when it was coming."

Santana's homer knocked Ray out of the game after just 1 1/3 innings and gave the Twins an early 6-1 lead. But Twins left-hander Tommy Milone also had an off night, giving up five runs (three earned) on 10 hits over 4 1/3 innings to fall two outs short of qualifying for the win.

The Tigers opened the scoring with a leadoff homer from Ian Kinsler in the first and rallied for four runs in the fifth to make it a one-run game. Escobar made his second error of the game with one out to spark the rally for the Tigers on a grounder hit by Torii Hunter.

Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez added consecutive singles to bring home a run before J.D. Martinez doubled to plate another. Milone remained in the game but gave up two straight singles to Nick Castellanos and Eugenio Suarez to get chased from the game. Bryan Holaday made it a one-run game with a sacrifice fly off reliever Anthony Swarzak.

"That fifth inning they did a great job of putting pressure on me and getting guys on base," Milone said.

The Tigers threatened in the sixth with runners at the corners with one out after an intentional walk to Cabrera, but reliever Ryan Pressly got Martinez to hit into an inning-ending double play. Pressly picked up the win as a result.

"It's hard to imagine I was thinking about Cabrera or Martinez in the biggest situation of the night," Gardenhire said. "We get the double play, and then there you have it, a nine-run inning to blow the game open."

Minnesota put the game away with a nine-run sixth inning that saw the Twins reach via four hits, six walks and two errors.

Brian Dozier plated the first run with an RBI single with nobody out against reliever Jim Johnson. Joe Mauer followed with a two-run single off left-hander Ian Krol before Kinsler made an error on a grounder from Arcia for another run.

The Tigers made another error on an ill-advised throw home from Castellanos to score two more runs before Santana brought home two more with a single back up the middle. Mauer capped the scoring that inning with a bases-loaded walk.

"We got our butts kicked," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "This was a bad game. It was an embarrassing game, really. There's really not much to say about it."

The Twins added two more runs in the seventh on an RBI single from Schafer, who reached base safely five times on the night, and a bases-loaded walk from Dozier.

The Tigers handed the ball to a position player in the eighth, as infielder Andrew Romine took the mound. Arcia and Plouffe launched back-to-back homers to bring home three more runs. Escobar had one final shot at the cycle but singled to right to fall a double short, but did set a career high with five hits.

"It was unbelievable -- I'll take the five hits," Escobar said. "I'm very happy. Today was a good game for everybody."

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Perkins to play for US team against Japan

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Perkins to play for US team against Japan play video for Perkins to play for US team against Japan

MINNEAPOLIS -- Major League Baseball announced the details for a five-game series against Japan's National Team in November, and Twins closer Glen Perkins said Friday he's on the preliminary roster.

MLB's announcement on Thursday only officially named Robinson Cano (Mariners), Adam Jones (Orioles), Yasiel Puig (Dodgers) and Albert Pujols (Angels) as participants. Rangers manager Ron Washington will serve as manager.

But Perkins said he's on the tentative roster and his teammates Phil Hughes and Brian Dozier have also asked to participate. Twins first baseman Joe Mauer played in the five-game series against Japan's National Team in 2006, which was the last time the series was held. The MLB All-Stars won all five games that year.

"As long as I'm healthy, I should be there," Perkins said. "When I got the e-mail, I asked Joe about it and he said it was awesome."

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Pino wins as Twins' 26th man for twin bill

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Pino wins as Twins' 26th man for twin bill play video for Pino wins as Twins' 26th man for twin bill

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins officially recalled right-hander Yohan Pino from Triple-A Rochester to be the club's 26th man on the roster for Game 1 of Saturday's split doubleheader against the Tigers. He earned his second career big league win, giving up four runs (one earned) on six hits and two walks over five innings in Minnesota's eventual 12-4 win.

Pino was called up to start Game 1 against the Tigers on regular rest, as he last pitched on Monday for the Red Wings. He was able to get out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth inning.

"Pino battled really hard," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He got through it. He got into a tough situation in the fifth with the bases loaded -- and you can either leave him in to get the win or take him out. And we gave him his shot and he got the big out there."

The right-hander was solid in his last start at Triple-A, allowing just two runs over seven-plus innings to improve to 10-2 with a 2.47 ERA for Rochester. His last start with the Twins before Saturday came on Aug. 12, when he gave up seven runs over 4 1/3 innings against the Astros.

Pino was optioned to Rochester on Aug. 15, so he had to be optioned back to Triple-A after his start on Saturday. Players must spend 10 days in the Minors after being optioned before being called up again. But the rule didn't apply to his start on Saturday because he came up as the club's 26th man.

Pino, though, said he remains hopeful he'll be called up again once rosters expand in September.

"I'm fine," Pino said. "I'll go down there and pitch -- and hopefully be back up here in September."

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Hughes outduels Kluber as Twins end scoreless skid

Righty goes seven strong, wins 14th; Vargas homers, sparks offense

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Hughes outduels Kluber as Twins end scoreless skid play video for Hughes outduels Kluber as Twins end scoreless skid

MINNEAPOLIS -- Phil Hughes and Corey Kluber have been two of the biggest surprises in baseball this season.

Both have had excellent seasons, as evidenced by the fact that Kluber entered Thursday second among all pitchers in the Majors in Wins Above Replacement (WAR), while Hughes ranked tied for fifth, according to Fangraphs.com.

But it was Hughes who came out on the right side of a pitchers' duel with Kluber, while rookie Kennys Vargas powered the offense to lead the Twins to a 4-1 win over the Indians at Target Field.

Hughes continued his recent run of success, tossing seven strong innings to get his team-leading 14th win of the year after winning four games with a 5.19 ERA with the Yankees in 2013. The right-hander gave up just one run on five hits while striking out eight despite dealing with a broken nail on his right index finger for a fourth straight outing.

"To be able to not have your best stuff and be able to limit those guys to one run when you're going against one of the best guys in the league is obviously a good feeling," Hughes said. "We needed this win desperately. So it was good to get this one."

It was the fifth straight quality start for Hughes, who has a 1.89 ERA over that span to lower his ERA on the season to 3.65.

The lone run he allowed came on a shot from Zach Walters in the fifth inning. It was the second homer in as many days for Walters, and the first served up by Hughes since Aug. 5.

"He threw a little cutter that came back over the plate," Walters said. "His stuff was good. He was throwing that invisible fastball, it seemed like. No one could get on top and no one could square up. I got lucky on one."

The righty outpitched Kluber, who has developed into Cleveland's ace but uncharacteristically struggled with his command, walking four and hitting a batter. The right-hander also went seven innings, but surrendered three runs on six hits to take his first loss since June 30.

Vargas got the Twins on the board in the fourth with a solo shot to left field, ending a 20-inning scoreless streak for Minnesota's offense. It was the fourth career homer for Vargas, and the first one allowed by Kluber since July 11.

"I was looking for something middle-outside," Vargas said. "I think it was a cutter. And I adjusted and hit it hard to the other way."

Vargas, who finished 3-for-4 with two runs scored, sparked a rally in the sixth with a one-out double to left-center field before Oswaldo Arcia followed with a walk. Trevor Plouffe came through with a go-ahead two-run double down the left-field line to give the Twins a lead they wouldn't relinquish.

"Kluber has such good stuff, you have to let the ball travel," Plouffe said. "His slider, his best pitch, comes out just like a fastball. That was my approach to see it as long as I could. It kind of backed up a little bit and caught a lot of the plate. And I was able to shoot it down the line."

It came after the Indians threatened against Hughes in the top of sixth, when Carlos Santana laced a ball down the right-field line after an error from center fielder Jordan Schafer. Santana was originally ruled safe at second base by umpire CB Bucknor for a double, but Twins manager Ron Gardenhire challenged the ruling on the field and it was overturned quickly to get Minnesota out of the potential jam.

"That was big," Hughes said. "I didn't want to face that situation coming up with second and third, so it was a big play. They got the call right, so that was huge."

After Hughes departed, reliever Casey Fien tossed a scoreless eighth, and Arcia added an insurance run with an RBI double in the bottom of the frame. Closer Glen Perkins finished it off with a scoreless ninth to get his 32nd save of the year.

But it was Hughes who was the story for the Twins, as he's proved to be a bright spot for the club since signing a three-year, $21 million deal in the offseason.

"He's throwing the ball great," Gardenhire said. "You saw him again today, and he was pounding the strike zone. He had a great breaking ball when he needed it. He moved the ball in and out and was in control of the game."

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