Sano, Plouffe provide the offense as Milone cruises

Sano, Plouffe provide the offense as Milone cruises

MINNEAPOLIS -- Miguel Sano hit his 15th home run of the season, a solo shot in the second inning, and Trevor Plouffe doubled with the bases loaded in the seventh to provide starter Tommy Milone with all the run support he needed in the Twins' 3-0 victory over the White Sox on Wednesday.

With the Rangers' win over San Diego, the Twins remain a game back of Texas for the second Wild Card spot in the American League. Minnesota has now won 10 of 12 and improved to 11-4 against the White Sox this season.

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Betsy Helfand is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Milone turns a corner in dominant outing vs. Sox

Milone turns a corner in dominant outing vs. Sox

MINNEAPOLIS -- Since coming off the 15-day disabled list on Aug. 16, Twins left-hander Tommy Milone has had trouble going deep into games, but he reversed that trend Wednesday night.

In his previous three starts since missing 14 games with a left elbow strain, Milone couldn't get past 5 1/3 innings, but was much better against the White Sox. He scattered three hits over seven scoreless innings with seven strikeouts in one of his best starts of the year to lead the Twins to a 3-0 win at Target Field.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Perkins day-to-day with back spasms

Perkins day-to-day with back spasms

MINNEAPOLIS -- With a save on the line in the ninth inning of Wednesday's 3-0 victory over the White Sox, Twins manager Paul Molitor turned to Kevin Jepsen to lock down the win. Jepsen worked a 1-2-3 inning. That was the good news for Minnesota. The bad? All-Star closer Glen Perkins was unavailable, once again dealing with back spasms.

Perkins picked up his first save since Aug. 16 on Tuesday. Molitor has used Perkins conservatively lately, at one point last week bringing him in for a non-save situation to ease him back into action.

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Betsy Helfand is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Sano named AL Rookie of the Month

Slugger remains in lineup despite sore hamstring

Sano named AL Rookie of the Month

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins third baseman/designated hitter Miguel Sano has been named the American League Rookie of the Month after leading all AL rookies in runs, home runs, RBIs and walks in August.

"It's great to be Rookie of the Month, but I want Rookie of the Year," Sano said with a laugh.

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Betsy Helfand is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twins won't call up pitching prospect Berrios

Twins won't call up pitching prospect Berrios

MINNEAPOLIS -- Top pitching prospect Jose Berrios will not be called up to the Majors this season, Twins general manager Terry Ryan said Wednesday.

Berrios, ranked as the No. 23 overall prospect by MLBPipeline.com, pitched twice for Triple-A Rochester in front of Ryan this week. But Ryan said after thinking it over, he decided it would be best to shut down Berrios after the end of the Minor League season because he's nearing his innings limit.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gibson looks to continue success vs. White Sox

Gibson looks to continue success vs. White Sox

After a seven-game winning streak right before the Trade Deadline, the White Sox decided to hang on to starter Jeff Samardzija. He responded with one of the worst months of his career, going 0-6 with an 8.82 ERA in August. Batters hit .338 against Samardzija, and he gave up 33 runs in just 33 2/3 innings.

Samardzija will look to get back on track in his first September start, facing a team he has pitched relatively well against this season. Samardzija is 2-0 with a 3.27 ERA in 22 innings pitched against the Twins over three games.

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Betsy Helfand is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

6 players who will decide the AL Wild Card race

6 players who will decide the AL Wild Card race

With just one month left in the regular season, some division races appear all but wrapped up, and even the National League Wild Card spots look likely to go to the Pirates and Cubs -- barring a Cardinals collapse and a torrid streak from the Giants in an odd-numbered year. But there is at least one race that will go to the wire: The American League Wild Card.

While the top AL Wild Card spot will likely go to the team that finishes second in the AL East, the second Wild Card has five teams in the mix who are all within four games of each other. And with many of those clubs set to play against each other during the season's last month, it could come down to what amounts to a round-robin tournament, where only the strong will survive -- and earn a spot in the playoffs.

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Michael Clair is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @clairbearattack on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Limited by injury, Sano slows down HR trot

Hamstring strain forces rookie to take it easy on bases

Limited by injury, Sano slows down HR trot

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins rookie slugger Miguel Sano has been nursing a mild right hamstring strain since Thursday, and has been told by the Twins coaching staff to take it easy on the bases.

It was apparent Tuesday night, as he couldn't score from second on a single to right field in the second and took his time running the bases after launching a game-tying solo homer in the seventh in an eventual 8-6 win. Sano's homer left the bat at 105 mph and traveled an estimated 400 feet with a launch angle of 30 degrees, per Statcast™ data. But it also took him 28.53 seconds to run the bases, as Sano is trying to play it smart with his hamstring.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

After Sano homers, Twins capitalize on errors

After Sano homers, Twins capitalize on errors

MINNESOTA -- Miguel Sano and Eduardo Escobar each had three hits and helped the Twins rally late in an 8-6 win over the White Sox on Tuesday night at Target Field. The victory left the Twins one game back of the Rangers for the second American League Wild Card after Texas beat San Diego by the same 8-6 margin.

Sano crushed his 14th homer -- a solo shot off reliever Nate Jones -- to tie the game in the seventh before the Twins took the lead in the eighth, keyed by a leadoff double from Escobar against lefty Zach Duke. Escobar scored on an error from Duke, as his throw to first on a bunt attempt from Kurt Suzuki sailed wide. Joe Mauer provided an RBI single before Trevor Plouffe added a sacrifice fly to give the Twins two insurance runs.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Escobar raising the bar with everyday role

Goes 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles, RBI in victory

Escobar raising the bar with everyday role

MINNEAPOLIS -- When the Twins sent Danny Santana down on Aug. 1, manager Paul Molitor seemed committed to platooning Eduardo Escobar and Eduardo Nunez at shortstop based on matchups.

But Escobar has made that increasingly harder. Escobar carried over a hot August into the first day of September, going 3-for-4 in Tuesday's 8-6 victory over the White Sox and sparking the team's three-run, eighth-inning rally.

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Betsy Helfand is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Walker among prospects headed to AFL

Leads Double-A in homers, RBIs and strikeouts

Walker among prospects headed to AFL

MINNEAPOLIS -- Adam Brett Walker headlines the list of seven Twins prospects headed to Scottsdale, Ariz., to play in the Arizona Fall League this October.

Walker, the team's No. 10 prospect, according to MLBpipeline.com, was the team's third-round pick in the 2012 Draft. Known for his power, Walker, an outfielder, leads all of Double-A with 29 home runs and 101 RBIs. But he also leads the league with 187 strikeouts, 44 more than the next closest player. Nearly 40 percent of his at-bats this season have ended with a whiff.

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Betsy Helfandis an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twins call up 5, including Santana and Vargas

Fryer, Achter, Tonkin also promoted; Berrios remains in Rochester

Twins call up 5, including Santana and Vargas

MINNEAPOLIS -- In their first wave of September callups, the Twins recalled infielder Danny Santana, first baseman Kennys Vargas and right-handed relievers A.J. Achter and Michael Tonkin from Triple-A Rochester. Minnesota also selected the contract of catcher Eric Fryer.

But just as notable, the Twins didn't bring up top pitching prospect Jose Berrios, who has a posted a combined 2.90 ERA with 170 strikeouts in a career-high 161 1/3 innings between Double-A Chattanooga and Rochester. Berrios, ranked No. 2 in the organization and the No. 23 overall prospect by MLBPipeline.com, pitched Monday in front of general manager Terry Ryan, allowing one run over six innings, but Ryan was non-committal about whether Berrios will be brought up.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Determined Santana fuels Twins' Wild Card hunt

Determined Santana fuels Twins' Wild Card hunt

MINNEAPOLIS -- After struggling throughout August, Ervin Santana returned to form to throw seven scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts and the Twins got home runs from Eduardo Nunez and Miguel Sano to earn a 7-5 win over the Astros on Sunday afternoon at Target Field.

Santana's gem and the 7-0 lead the homers gave the Twins through eight innings helped Minnesota survive Houston's five-run ninth. With their eighth win in their last 10 games, the Twins kept pace with the Rangers, who also won Sunday to maintain their 1 1/2-game lead over Minnesota for the second American League Wild Card slot.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Betsy Helfand is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Santana gets back on track with 10-K gem

Santana gets back on track with 10-K gem

MINNEAPOLIS -- During his bullpen session in St. Petersburg on Thursday, Twins right-hander Ervin Santana went back to the basics with pitching coach Neil Allen, having posted a 9.12 ERA over his previous five starts.

Allen had Santana work on a variety of drills aimed to help him regain his fastball command, and it paid immediate dividends, as Santana turned in perhaps his best outing of the season on Sunday against the Astros. He tossed seven scoreless innings with a season-high 10 strikeouts to lead the Twins to a series victory with a 7-5 win at Target Field.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hughes' back injury improving steadily

Hughes' back injury improving steadily

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins right-hander Phil Hughes continues to progress slowly from lower back inflammation, but he is expected to throw a bullpen session by the middle of the week.

Hughes, on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Aug. 10, threw without any issues for three straight days before taking Sunday off. He's expected to throw his first bullpen session before the Twins head to Houston on Friday, but he won't join the team on the road trip, as he'll continue to rehab at Target Field.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Innings piling up for effective Twins relievers

Bullpen logs 5 1/3 scoreless during Saturday's loss to Astros

Innings piling up for effective Twins relievers

MINNEAPOLIS -- While the Twins have been playing well of late, winning seven of their last nine, it's mostly been in spite of their starting pitching.

Twins starters have failed to get deep into games, and it was again the case in a 4-1 loss to the Astros on Saturday night at Target Field. Right-hander Mike Pelfrey lasted just 3 2/3 innings, marking the eighth straight game for Minnesota that a starter failed to go at least six innings.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twins stifled by Fiers, Astros

Twins stifled by Fiers, Astros

MINNEAPOLIS -- Mike Fiers couldn't replicate the no-hitter from his previous outing, but tossed six-plus innings of three-hit ball to lead the Astros to a 4-1 win over the Twins on Saturday night at Target Field.

Fiers, who threw a 134-pitch no-hitter against the Dodgers on Aug. 21, was given extra rest and looked sharp against Minnesota. The right-hander allowed one run on three hits and three walks to improve to 2-0 with 2.25 ERA in five appearances with Houston since being traded from Milwaukee. But he left after taking a comebacker from Eddie Rosario off his hand in the seventh after hitting Trevor Plouffe with a pitch -- a non-factor in his exit, he said, as he was unhurt and already at 98 pitches.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. Betsy Helfand is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hicks headed to Rochester for rehab stint

Center fielder, recovering from hamstring strain, could return Friday

Hicks headed to Rochester for rehab stint

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins center fielder Aaron Hicks worked out without any issues at Target Field on Saturday, and is set to start a rehab assignment with Triple-A Rochester on Sunday.

Hicks, on the 15-day disabled list since Aug. 19 with a left hamstring strain, left for Rochester on Saturday night. He hit on the field and ran before Saturday's game against the Astros and was cleared to start his rehab assignment.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Sano returns to lineup after hamstring injury

22-year-old slugger has 12 homers in 48 games

Sano returns to lineup after hamstring injury

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins rookie slugger Miguel Sano returned to the lineup against the Astros on Saturday after missing Friday's game with a minor right hamstring injury.

Sano returned as the club's designated hitter and batted cleanup, going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and a walk in a 4-1 loss. He was held out for precautionary reasons on Friday, as Twins manager Paul Molitor didn't want to risk further injury, but Sano told him before the game he felt better and was ready to return. Sano spent the early part of the day walking around the Minnesota State Fair with Byron Buxton with several promotional appearances along the way.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gibson outduels Kazmir as Twins blank Astros

Gibson outduels Kazmir as Twins blank Astros

MINNEAPOLIS -- Kyle Gibson tossed 5 1/3 innings to get his first win since July 12 while helping the Twins earn a 3-0 victory over the Astros on Friday night at Target Field.

The Twins have won seven of eight and remain a half-game behind the Rangers for the second American League Wild Card spot, while the Astros remain five games ahead of the Angels in the AL West.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. Betsy Helfand is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Perkins fires scoreless 7th in healthy return

Perkins fires scoreless 7th in healthy return

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins closer Glen Perkins returned to action after missing three games with lower back spasms, tossing a scoreless seventh inning in Friday night's 3-0 win over the Astros.

Perkins, who first felt the back spasms while warming up prior to his appearance against the Orioles on Sunday, was eased back into the bullpen, as he pitched in the seventh inning for the first time since May 2, 2012. He fared well in his return, picking up two strikeouts and getting an infield popup.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gibson looking to build off 1st post-break win

Gibson looking to build off 1st post-break win

MINNEAPOLIS -- Kyle Gibson was undoubtedly the Twins' best starter in the first half, posting a 2.85 ERA in 18 outings, but he hasn't looked the same in the second half.

Gibson, though, took a step forward on Friday night, tossing 5 2/3 scoreless innings to lead the Twins to a 3-0 win over the Astros. It was his first victory since his final start of the first half on July 12, as he entered 0-3 with a 7.22 ERA in seven outings since the All-Star break.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

Twins' status changing from 'surprise' to 'contender'

Molitor, Sano keeping Minnesota in thick of AL Wild Card race

Twins' status changing from 'surprise' to 'contender'

Cubs manager Joe Maddon was asked before the season if he would have had to wait so long for his first manager's job if he had played a few years in the Major Leagues. He had a quick answer.

Maddon, a catcher who never played above Class A, said he would have been hired more quickly if he had played one day in the big leagues. He's probably right, but tell that to first-year Twins skipper Paul Molitor.

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Phil Rogers is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twins take solace in their winning road trip

Twins take solace in their winning road trip

ST. PETERSBURG -- After starting a 10-game road trip with a three-game sweep at the hands of the Yankees, the Twins were in danger of slipping out of the playoff race with seven games on tap against the contending Orioles and Rays.

But the Twins righted the ship, winning six straight games until a 5-4 loss to Tampa Bay on Thursday night at Tropicana Field. So while it ended with a defeat, the Twins still came away mostly satisfied with their 6-4 road trip through the American League East.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twins fall out of Wild Card spot with loss to Rays

Twins fall out of Wild Card spot with loss to Rays

ST. PETERSBURG -- Joey Butler hit a game-tying single and scored on a passed ball to help the Rays snap a three-game losing streak with a 5-4 win over the Twins on Thursday night at Tropicana Field.

The Twins (65-62) entered the game tied with the Rangers for the second American League Wild Card spot and finished 6-4 on the road trip. By winning, the Rays (63-64) avoided a sweep while moving to within two games of the Twins in the Wild Card standings.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Sano hits 'quirky' double off Tropicana Field catwalk

Sano hits 'quirky' double off Tropicana Field catwalk

ST. PETERBURG -- Twins rookie slugger Miguel Sano hit one of the more unusual doubles of the season in Thursday night's 5-4 loss to the Rays, as he crushed a high drive off left-hander Drew Smyly that hit the "B" ring at Tropicana Field and remained in play for an RBI double.

With two out in the third and Brian Dozier at first base, Sano smacked an 0-1 fastball to left-center that would have been a homer, but instead hit the catwalk. Dozier scored from first on the play, while Sano held at second base.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twin Cities kids thrilled by Play Ball event

Twin Cities kids thrilled by Play Ball event

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Twins first baseman Joe Mauer and manager Paul Molitor were more than 1,500 miles away from their hometown Wednesday night as the team took on the Rays in Florida, but around 60 other St. Paul ballplayers took the field back in Minnesota as part of the Play Ball initiative.

"I have said it many times. I think the capital of baseball in this state probably is St. Paul," Twins president Dave St. Peter said to a crowd of kids ages 8-14. "How can you not say that when you think of the history of baseball in this community and the number of great players that this city has turned out?"

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Betsy Helfand is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twins beat Rays, take over 2nd Wild Card spot

Twins beat Rays, take over 2nd Wild Card spot

ST. PETERSBURG -- Minnesota continued to roll on Wednesday night with a 5-3 win over Tampa Bay at Tropicana Field to claim its sixth consecutive victory and move into the top spot for the second American League Wild Card.

With the Angels' loss to the Tigers and Rangers falling to the Blue Jays, the Twins (65-61) have leapfrogged past them and now have a half-game lead over Texas and a one-game lead over Los Angeles in the AL Wild Card race.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. Listen to his podcast. Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.