By Sam Ekstrom | KFAN.com
Who said Justin Morneau had no trade value?
The first baseman homered twice in the first game of a day-night doubleheader and powered the Twins past last-place Chicago by a 7-5 score.
Morneau’s seventh-inning slam was the seventh grand slam of his career and the Twins’ second of the season. It came off reliever Nate Jones with two outs and turned a 3-1 deficit into a 5-3 Twins lead.
Morneau added a solo shot – his 13th home run of the year – in the top of the ninth, giving him five homers since the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. At that time, it was reported that the Twins wanted more in exchange for Morneau than other teams were willing to give up, but after his recent power surge, those clubs may be having second thoughts.
The Twins could still trade Morneau and his expiring contract before the Aug. 31 waiver trade deadline.
Chris Colabello and Oswaldo Arcia also added solo homers for the Twins. Colabello gave the Twins an early lead with a first-inning blast to right field, while Arcia’s longball in the eighth extended the Twins’ lead to 6-3. Minnesota tied their season high with four home runs, doing it for the fifth time.
Starting pitchers Kyle Gibson and John Danks both allowed three earned runs before giving way to their respective bullpens. The Twins’ pen was effective again with Brian Duensing (5-1), Jared Burton, and Casey Fien delivering scoreless outings before closer Glen Perkins allowed a harmless two-run single in the bottom of the ninth.
On the other end of the spectrum, Chicago’s bullpen suffered its MLB-leading 28th loss of the year. Four of the five Chicago relievers who appeared allowed an earned run.
On a day when the Twins hit seven home runs, it seemed fitting that Oswaldo Arcia’s 10th-inning bomb would be the clincher in the second game of a doubleheader.
Arcia’s solo blast to center field off Dylan Axelrod (4-9) – his second home run of the day – broke a 2-2 tie and propelled the Twins to a day-night sweep of the White Sox.
The low-scoring 3-2 final, ironically, concluded a day of offensive firepower at U.S. Cellular Field. The two teams combined for 11 home runs in the two contests, including five solo homers in the nightcap, accounting for all the scoring.
Chris Herrmann began the home-run derby with his third dinger of the year in the fourth inning, but Alexei Ramirez hit his second homer of the day in the next half inning to knot the game at 1-1.
Sox center fielder Blake Tekotte gave Chicago the lead with his first career home run in the sixth inning before Chicago’s bullpen imploded again.
Josh Willingham – on a newly-repaired meniscus – led off the top of the eighth with a game-tying homer against right-hander Matt Lindstrom. Two innings later, Axelrod gave up another lead-off jack: Arcia’s game-winner.
Meanwhile, the Twins’ bullpen was strong as usual in relief of Liam Hendriks, who was called up to make a spot start and only allowed two runs in six and a third innings. Caleb Thielbar, Josh Roenicke, Brian Duensing (6-1), and Glen Perkins only needed 37 pitches to get through 3.2 scoreless innings. Perkins finished it off with his 28th save of the year.
The teams meet again at 3:05 p.m. Saturday.
NOTES: With the loss, the White Sox are now tied with Miami for the second-worst record in baseball (43-71)… Chicago traded outfielder Alex Rios to Texas early Friday in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations.