Twins’ bats stay red hot in another offensive surge over Tigers

Twins rookie Kennys Vargas has 22 RBI in his first 21 major league games since making his debut on Aug. 1.

Jim Mone/Jim Mone/Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — After scoring a season-high 20 runs Friday — the most they’ve scored in more than five years — it wouldn’t have been surprising to see the Minnesota Twins cool down offensively the following game.

Instead, the Twins picked up right where they left off in Friday’s win by jumping on the visiting Tigers for 12 runs on 14 hits in a 12-4 victory in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader. Just like in Friday’s 20-6 win, the offensive outburst Saturday included a six-run second inning to jump-start the rout.

Now Minnesota better hope it saved a few runs for Saturday’s nightcap.

"You kind of tell everybody to keep that foot on the gas pedal," said Twins designated hitter Joe Mauer, who was 2-for-3 with three RBI and two runs scored in Saturday’s win. "You’ve got to keep going out there and having good at-bats. A team like that can put up a lot of runs in a hurry, too, so you play the game and respect the game and keep playing the game hard. We did that the last couple nights, and hopefully we can continue to do that."

The Twins entered Saturday as the highest-scoring team in baseball for the month of August, putting up 113 runs before scoring 12 times against Detroit in the first game of the doubleheader. The 32 runs scored Friday and Saturday marked the most in back-to-back games since 2007 when the Twins scored 32 — three shy of the club record.

Making the 12 runs even more impressive was that it came not long after Friday’s 20 runs in a game that took nearly four hours to complete.

"They came out swinging again," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "The ball found some holes. Some big swings in some big moments."

Twins 12, Tigers 4

One of the big swings came by left fielder Jordan Schafer, who broke a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the second with a bases-loaded triple to put Minnesota up 4-1. The Twins went on to score three more runs in that six-run second, including a pair of runs courtesy of a Joe Mauer double.

Kennys Vargas, playing in just his 21st game in the majors, drove in the final run of the inning on a double to right for one of his career-high five RBI. He’s now driven in 22 runs this season and added three more with a bases-loaded double to the gap in right-center.

"I tried to be more focused with men on base, because it’s very important for the team to put the ball in play," Vargas said. "I try to make contact, but more to the middle. I’m thinking middle all the time. I hit it good."

In their 20-run effort Friday, the Twins tallied 20 total hits. Saturday’s 12 runs came via 14 hits, with Eduardo Escobar leading the team with three of those 14 (after he had a five-hit game Friday). Right fielder Chris Parmelee was the only player in Minnesota’s lineup without a hit Saturday, just like catcher Kurt Suzuki was in Friday’s outburst.

Minnesota’s offense has been streaky for much of the season, especially with runners in scoring position. But the Twins have now scored 560 runs this year, second-most in the American League Central behind Detroit’s 580. The 32 runs scored Friday and Saturday make up 5.7 percent of the team’s runs all season.

The Twins lineup is certainly clicking as of late and, as the old baseball cliche goes, hitting appears to be contagious with this team.

"People love to see runs cross the plate," Gardenhire said. "When you’re running around the bases, that’s when everything gets going. Guys are high-fiving each other. That’s the way you get everybody back into the game is scoring runs, and right now we’ve been scoring them."

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It remains to be seen if Minnesota can continue scoring at this rate for the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader when the Twins will face former Cy Young winner Justin Verlander. Though Verlander is having a down year by his standards, he always seems to pitch well against Minnesota.

Then again, the Twins are the hottest-hitting team in the league. Putting up a crooked number against a guy like Verlander doesn’t seem out of the question.

"It’s fun. I’ve been on both sides of those, and it’s a lot more fun on our side," Mauer said. "Hopefully we keep it going. Guys are having good at-bats up and down the lineup. When that happens, it’s a lot of fun."

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