MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins took note of longtime nemesis Paul Konerko’s return to the White Sox lineup for Wednesday’s series finale.
They probably should have been more concerned with the guy batting ahead of him.
Chicago first baseman Adam Dunn — he of the .137 batting average — continued to torment the Twins, blasting two homers and driving in five runs as the White Sox took the rubber match Wednesday by a 9-4 final at Target Field. Dunn’s two-home run performance came one game after he hit a solo homer in Tuesday’s 4-2 Chicago victory.
“He had a nice day,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Dunn. “He’s a strong young man, and when you throw the ball up there he’s going to get you.”
Twins starter Mike Pelfrey was the first victim to leave a pitch up to Dunn. Pelfrey hung a 3-2 changeup to Dunn, and the Chicago first baseman drove it over the wall in center field for his eighth homer of the season — and second in as many days.
Dunn entered Wednesday’s game with 33 plate appearances against Pelfrey, who served up Dunn’s two-run homer in the third inning. It was just the second time Dunn has taken Pelfrey deep, and he was previously batting just .231 against the Twins right-hander.
Those numbers didn’t matter Wednesday. Dunn’s two-run blast traveled 421 feet to straightaway center field to tie the game at 2-all.
“For him to be able to drive that ball the other way like that, I obviously didn’t pitch in as effectively as I should have,” Pelfrey said. “Obviously he made me pay for it.”
Dunn also smashed a double to left field off Pelfrey in the top of the fifth inning, driving in Alexei Ramirez in the process. That was the last batter Pelfrey faced as he was lifted for Anthony Swarzak with no outs in the fifth.
“I’ve had a lot of good at-bats off him, I feel like,” Dunn said of Pelfrey. “He’s tough. He has a really good sinker. He’s throwing his curveball a lot more than he used to, and he has a good changeup. When he’s throwing strikes he can be real tough. You’ve got to make him get the ball up, and I was able to get a couple of pitches up.”
After Pelfrey’s exit, Dunn continued to hit the Twins hard. With two outs in the eighth inning, the White Sox left-hander sent a pitch from reliever Josh Roenicke into the Twins’ bullpen for a two-run shot that sealed Chicago’s 9-4 win.
“If you leave the ball out and over to that guy, he’s going to kill you,” Gardenhire said. “Every time we left the ball out and over the plate, he tried to kill our bullpen and did a really nice job of that today, and that’s hitting the ball into the bullpen.”
Wednesday was Dunn’s first multi-homer game of the season and the 35th of his career. He now has 415 career homers, 47th-most in baseball history — two spots behind his teammate Konerko, who is tied for 45th with 426.
Having spent most of his career in the National League before joining the White Sox in 2011, Dunn hasn’t faced the Twins much. Minnesota is probably glad that’s the case, as Dunn has hurt the Twins in his limited exposure to Minnesota’s pitching. Including Wednesday’s three-hit game, Dunn now has 25 career hits in 35 games against the Twins. Nine of them have cleared the fence for home runs — including five in the last six games — and seven more have gone for doubles. He’s also driven in 23 runs against Minnesota.
Dunn nearly had another home run in Monday’s series opener but he was robbed by Twins center fielder Aaron Hicks, who leapt at the wall to take away a two-run homer. Regardless, the guy they call Big Donkey was the big difference two straight days.
Minnesota is glad to see him leave town.
“That’s a guy over there you don’t want to let beat you, and obviously he did that today,” Pelfrey said. “That’s on me. Overall, not very good.”