Twins' bats step up to support Perkins

Twins' bats step up to support Perkins

MINNEAPOLIS -- The disappointment on Glen Perkins' face was clearly evident when he was sent down to Minor League camp during Spring Training in March.

Despite missing over three months of last season due to a strained muscle behind his left shoulder, Perkins felt that he was ready to produce in the Majors -- whether it was in a starting role or out of the bullpen.

It may have been a somewhat delayed arrival back to the Majors for Perkins, but he's now proving that he is indeed ready for this level.

On Tuesday, the left-hander delivered his third straight quality start since being called up from Triple-A Rochester. He allowed just two earned runs over 6 1/3 innings, and this time, he got some much-needed run support from his offense to pick up his first Major League win in the Twins' 11-4 victory over the Rangers at the Metrodome.

"As we told him when we sent him down, he needed to pitch, more than anything else, because of injuries and being out [of] the bullpen before," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He got some starts in down there, some innings under his belt, and I think he found a little bit of what he needed to get done. We've always seen the deception, and now you are seeing the breaking ball and changeup along with it. It's development."

Perkins admits that when he was sent down, he disagreed with the team's decision to have him start the year in Rochester. Considering his recent success, however, he may now have a slightly different perspective.

"I think they had a plan," Perkins said. "They laid it out for me when I was there. I didn't really believe them at the time. I didn't want to believe them. So it is nice to be here and be helping out the team now. Obviously, helping the team get wins is the most important thing."

Perkins earned both an individual win and a team victory on Tuesday, thanks in large part to his ability to deliver a well-mixed array of pitches. Featuring a variety of breaking pitches and fastballs, Perkins was able to keep the Rangers off-balance for most of the night.

"This team over here is a really good fastball-hitting team early in the count," Gardenhire said. "If you attack the inner half of the plate with fastballs, like most teams, they are going to whack you around, so you better mix up your pitches against them and use them all. Glen was able to do that."

The left-hander gave most of the credit for his successful outing to his catcher, Joe Mauer, whom he said he didn't shake off once the entire night.

"Before the game, I told Joe, 'Just put down the fingers and I'll throw what you call,'" Perkins said. "That is what we did, and it worked out tonight."

"I tried telling these guys they need to listen to me more," Mauer joked. "But no, Glen makes me look smart, I guess. He threw the ball real well and made the pitches when he needed to, so you have to give him the credit."

Perkins (1-1) eased through the first few innings, giving up just three hits before the start of the seventh. It was in that inning that Perkins found some trouble, allowing three runs (two earned) by leaving some pitches up in the zone.

By that point, however, the game had pretty much been decided.

Having totaled just four runs of support for Perkins in his first two starts, the Twins nearly tripled that on Tuesday. After some struggles to put together big offensive innings during back-to-back series losses to the Blue Jays and Rockies, the Twins finally showed glimpses of an offensive breakout.

That included a seven-run third inning against Rangers starter Doug Mathis.

"We scored a touchdown there in the third," Gardenhire joked.

The Twins had already tagged Mathis (1-1) for two runs in the first before carrying some of that momentum into the third. Every hitter in the Twins lineup reached base in the third, as the club strung together some hits, drew some key walks, and were the welcome recipients of a Rangers fielding error that allowed the inning to unravel for Texas.

Mathis gave up four straight hits to start the inning, including Michael Cuddyer's RBI double, which snapped the right fielder's 0-for-10 streak.

Jason Kubel then drew the first of the team's three walks in the inning before a fielding error by Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler kept the inning going.

"I thought I made some good pitches that inning, but they had a few broken-bat hits and had some good swings on the ball," Mathis said. "I fell behind some hitters and when I did put it over the plate, they found some holes. But that comes from not getting ahead of hitters. I need to do a better job of attacking hitters and getting ahead in the count."

Just to put the game totally out of reach, Minnesota added two more runs in the seventh when Delmon Young delivered his third triple in the last three games. The left fielder is now batting .500 over his last seven games.

For a Twins team that's not known for its power, Tuesday's offensive showing was a perfect example of how the club can score a lot of runs without a single long ball.

"Obviously, we aren't a team that is going to hit a lot of homers, seeing as we didn't hit any tonight, and still could score that many runs," Cuddyer said. "So to be able to string them and bunch hits together, that is how we are going to win. It was good to be able to see us do that, especially in one inning."

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.