The Chicagoland long-ball barrage of August 2013 is now over.
And the Twins return home this week having emerged on the better end of it.
Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer’s fifth-frame home runs provided enough leeway in Minnesota’s 5-2 victory Sunday that closed out a 3-1 series win against the White Sox. The twin shots were the team’s 10th and 11th of the four-game stretch, perpetuating a remarkable streak that compensated for an even more remarkable trend of futility.
Against their fellow American League Central Division bottomfeeder, all 19 of the Twins’ runs this weekend came courtesy of home runs. By conventional baseball wisdom, they never should’ve been such a formidable offensive threat — they went an astoundingly low 3-for-37 with runners in scoring position.
A bizarre series for two teams grappling for mere respectability.
Halfway through its conclusion, Dozier lofted a 1-0 Jose Quintana slider over the left field fence to drive in three runs. Jamey Carroll singled, and Mauer — batting a team-best .315 coming into Sunday but not capable of much power — followed up with his ninth home run of the season, a 1-1 blast to left.
Production born solely from slugging has not been Minnesota’s M.O. this summer; even after the weekend onslaught, the Twins rank 12th in the AL in home runs.
The team sitting just behind them? The Chicago White Sox.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday offered perfect conditions for finding the bleachers. U.S. Cellular Field is a hitter-friendly ballpark to begin with, measuring 347 feet to the corners and 400 to straight center field. Spring and fall can bring a cold, brisk breeze in the Windy City, but still summer days like Sunday are quite conducive to hitting home runs.
In a Friday doubleheader and afternoon matchups Saturday and Sunday, the Twins hit more long balls there than any other visitor has all season.
Quintana (6-4, 3.70 ERA) became the latest victim of their newfound home run frenzy despite hitting his spots fairly well and striking out six batters in five innings of work. Kevin Correia (8-8, 4.59) was just a bit better, working around five hits and striking out seven in seven shutout innings.
Reliever Casey Fien gave up a pair of — what else? — solo home runs in the bottom of the ninth, to Adam Dunn and Conor Gillaspie. That brought Chicago’s weekend homer total to seven.
All told, 27 of the team’s combined 33 runs during the series crossed the plate courtesy of round-trippers.
The Twins return to Target Field for a three-game series with Cleveland on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.