MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Twins aren’t used to scoring runs like this.
Kennys Vargas drove in a career-high five and Joe Mauer had three RBI to help Yohan Pino win his first start in more than a month as Minnesota beat the Detroit Tigers 12-4 in the first game of a day-night doubleheader Saturday.
Asked if his team saved any runs for the nightcap, Mauer said: "I hope so. There’s plenty of them out there, right?"
Vargas went 2-for-4 with two doubles and a sacrifice fly. The rookie has 22 RBI in his first 21 major league games since making his debut on Aug. 1 — the most in a big league player’s first 21 games since Albert Pujols had 22 in April 2001.
"He puts together good at-bats and is driving some runs in," Mauer said, "so that’s always nice to see."
Right now, the entire Twins lineup is putting together good at-bats. The team’s 32 runs in the last two games is its most in consecutive games since 2007 and three short of the club record set in 1996.
"It’s a better feeling because of that, but we also go through those stretches where we don’t do anything and it’s not a good feeling, so we’ve just got to get consistent," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I’ll consistently take this number of runs every day."
Minnesota scored seven runs off starter Buck Farmer (0-1), who lasted just 1 1/3 innings and ran his ERA to 15.63 in his second career start. A day after watching Tigers pitchers give up 20 runs on a combined 214 pitches, Farmer allowed six runs in the second as the Twins batted around for the third time in nine innings.
"Everything just started going downhill and I couldn’t recover from it," Farmer said.
Vargas’ double off Pat McCoy scored Mauer to make it 7-1, giving Pino (2-5) a nice cushion. Pino worked five innings, allowing four runs — one earned — and six hits while striking out six.
The Tigers scored three unearned runs off Pino in the fifth after a bad throw by second baseman Brian Dozier allowed Nick Castellanos to reach second. Ian Kinsler, Ezequiel Carrera and Miguel Cabrera all singled to pull Detroit to 9-4.
Vargas’ three-run double in the seventh off reliever Kyle Lobstein made it 12-4.
"He’s swung the bat well from the right side, and that’s supposed to be his weaker side," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said of Vargas. "He’s looked good. I know it’s only a couple games, but it seems like their entire lineup looks good to me."
Mauer is still receiving daily treatment for the strained oblique that caused him to miss 34 games. He’s hitting .357 since coming off the DL on Aug. 11. "I feel good. I’m seeing the ball well. I think I’ve said over and over, just trying not to do too much and it’s been working," he said.
In Game 2 of the doubleheader, Justin Verlander (10-11) and the Tigers both will try to snap two-game losing streaks. Verlander was 4-0 in his last six starts at Target Field. Twins starter Trevor May (0-2) tries for his first major league victory in his third career start.