By: Dan Cole | KFAN.com
The past week was a rough one for the Minnesota Twins.
After winning four games the week before, including three wins against the Red Sox at Fenway Park, the Twins (18-22) picked up just one win in six home games against the White Sox and Red Sox last week. They were outscored 36-24 during the six-game stretch and reached double-digits in hits just three times, allowing themselves to fall further below the .500 mark and to last place in the AL Central.
The week began with a three-game series against the visiting Chicago White Sox (19-23), who had just lost two of three against the Angels the weekend before.
The first game of the series night was the Aaron Hicks show. The rookie blasted two solo homers in the fourth and sixth innings in addition to robbing White Sox slugger Adam Dunn of a potentially game-tying two-run homer in the top of the sixth. Hicks received a curtain call after the second homerun en route to a 10-3 Twins victory.
It was the first time this season that Twins fans had seen the hype surrounding Hicks become reality, and created a lot of optimism that maybe his early season struggles were behind him. He did, however, then finish the week 1-for-17, turning his Monday night performance into a mirage of what could be.
The Twins followed the excitement and commanding victory of Monday night by dropping the final two games of the series against the White Sox.
Tuesday night's game was a pitching duel between Kevin Correia and Jake Peavy. Tied 2-2 going into the eighth inning, Correia faltered first, giving up two runs and the game for the Twins, who lost 4-2.
Then, on Wendesday afternoon, Twins starter Mike Pelfrey was chased off the mound in the fifth inning by the hot bats of Adam Dunn and Dayan Viciedo, both of whom homered off of Pelfrey. The White Sox took that contest 9-4, walking away with two of three at Target Field.
Twins first baseman Justin Morneau stood out offensively against Chicago, going 7-for-14 with four RBIs and two runs scored in the series. He now leads the Twins with 29 RBIs on the season.
With the Red Sox (27-17) coming to town over the weekend, the Twins had reason to expect success. Despite Boston's impressive record and offensive numbers, the Twins had just defeated them three times at Fenway Park the week before, including a 15-8 beating in one of the games.
Success, however, was not achieved. The Twins were swept by the Red Sox in disappointing fashion.
On Friday night, the teams went into extra innings before Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes drove in the game-winning run on a sacrifice fly in the top of the 10th, as Boston won 3-2. Twins starter Vance Worley, who has been struggling to find his groove on the mound this season, had arguably his best outing on Friday, allowing zero earned runs on six hits in six innings of work.
Saturday's and Sunday's games were not as close. Twins left-hander Scott Diamond got lit up in just 4.1 innings on Saturday, as Boston teed off on him for six runs early on, on their way to a 12-5 win.
The series concluded with a rainy contest on Sunday afternoon in a game that included a three-hour delay due to weather. The Twins were shut down by Red Sox starter John Lackey, who shut them out through six innings. Boston would claim the series finale 5-1.
Trevor Plouffe went 4-for-11 in the Boston series with two double and an RBI, increasing his batting average to .252 this season.
This Twins take the the road this week for a nine-game trip against the Braves, Tigers and Brewers.
By: Dan Cole | KFAN.com
After picking up quality starts in his previous two appearances, Twins starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey revisited his early season struggles once again on Wednesday afternoon, as the Twins fell to the White Sox 9-4 at Target Field in the rubber match of the three-game series.
Pelfrey (3-4) gave up three runs in six innings against the Orioles last Friday and one run in six innings against the Indians on May 5, but left Wednesday’s game early after giving up five runs on eight hits in four innings of work.
Opposite Pelfrey was White Sox right-hander Dylan Axelrod, who gave up three earned runs on nine hits in 5.1 innings pitched on Wednesday. He picked up his first win of the season, improving his record to 1-3.
The Twins (18-19) jumped ahead of the Sox (17-21) early, scoring a run in each of the first two innings thanks to an RBI-single from Josh Willingham and a solo-homerun from Eduardo Escobar, his second of the season.
The White Sox then received offense from the power of Adam Dunn and Dayan Viciedo, both of whom helped the Sox get on the board early. Dunn cranked a two-run shot in the top of the third, followed by a solo-dinger from Vicideo an inning later.
The duo also picked up an RBI apiece in the top of the fifth, giving the Sox a 5-2 lead and chasing Pelfrey off the mound.
Dunn would add another two-run homer in the top of the eighth, his ninth of the year, giving him five RBIs on Wednesday.
Twins reliever Anthony Swarzak replaced Pelfrey in the fifth, going two innings while allowing just one hit and one walk.
Jamie Carroll and Joe Mauer both recorded three-hit games for the Twins, as Mauer extended his hitting streak to 14 games, as well. Carroll picked up an RBI-single in the bottom of the sixth to bring the Twins within two.
White Sox outfielder Alex Rios tallied three hits of his own, going 3-for-4 with three runs scored on the day.
The Twins are now setting their sights on a three-game home series against the Red Sox this weekend, who they swept in Boston just last week.
By: Dan Cole | KFAN.com
The Twins dropped the second game of their three-game series against the White Sox 4-2 at Target Field on Tuesday night.
After putting the Sox (16-21) down 10-3 behind a stellar performance from Aaron Hicks on Monday night, the Twins (18-18) failed to produce enough offense against Chicago starter Jake Peavy, who improved his record to 5-1 after giving up just two runs and five hits in seven innings on Tuesday.
"I know Jake and I've pitched with him and against him in the National League for a long time," said Twins right-hander Kevin Correia, who started on the hill for Minnesota on Tuesday. "He's as big of a competitor as you're ever going to face, so it is fun going against him, and you better pitch as good or better than him to get a win."
Correia did just that for the majority of his outing, bearing down after giving up two solo homers in the top of the second to shut down Chicago’s bats through the seventh inning.
He entered the eighth inning pitching to a 2-2 duel with Peavy, before giving up two runs with no outs, breaking the tie and handing the White Sox a 4-2 lead and eventual victory.
There’s some speculation that Correia’s arm may have been wearing down and that Twins manager Ron Gardenhire should have taken him out of the game, despite the fact that Correia had only pitched 94 pitches going into the eighth inning.
"He was cruising through everything,” Gardenhire said. “It's easy to sit and say, 'Oh, he might have been tired,' but that wasn't the case."
Correia, who has been the Twins’ most consistent starter this season, fell to 4-3 on the season. He now owns a 3.35 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in 53.2 innings pitched.
Offensively, the Twins picked up just six hits, with Justin Morneau being the only player to tally multiple hits. He went 2-for-4 with a run scored.
Joe Mauer went 1-for-4 on the night, extending his hitting streak to 13 games. Mauer is batting .340 this season.
The Twins have won five of their last eight games overall and are now 3.5 games back from the division-leading Tigers.
The series finale against the White Sox is slated to begin Wednesday at 12:10 p.m. Twins starter Mike Pelfrey will be on the mound against Sox right-hander Dylan Axelrod.