Twins’ Plouffe continues torrid power stretch
MINNEAPOLIS — Trevor Plouffe is on some kind of a tear right now.
Every time the Twins third baseman steps to the plate these days, you get the feeling the ball will fly off his bat and into the seats. Because frankly, that’s exactly what’s been happening.
Plouffe hit two home runs against Milwaukee on Friday — his 26th birthday — and has now hit five homers in his last four games. While Friday’s two-homer effort came in a 5-3 Twins loss, it’s still hard to ignore the streak that Plouffe has put together.
“He’s on the ball. It’s fun to watch,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Plouffe, who was not available for comment after the game. “You see guys go through hitting streaks, but not too many times you see about every time they put a good swing on the ball, it goes in the seats. That’s what he seems to be doing right now.”
Friday marked Plouffe’s first career multi-homer game. His first of the night came in the fifth inning, as he led off with a solo shot off Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo. Plouffe’s blast to left field was estimated at 366 feet and put the Twins up 1-0.
One inning later, Plouffe’s second of the game tied it up after Milwaukee star Ryan Braun belted a three-run homer to put his team up 3-2 in the top of the sixth. Plouffe stepped to the plate with one out and sent another one to the seats in left field, this time a 413-foot shot.
“He’s swinging the bat well right now. Obviously, he’s hot,” Gallardo said of Plouffe. “He’s hitting every mistake it seems like. The first home run, it was just (I) left a fastball up in the zone. I left it up in the zone. He took advantage of it. The second one, he fouled off some pretty good pitches.”
There was a time earlier this season where Plouffe looked more like a liability on offense than a threat to homer at any time. He was batting just .121 with one homer and two RBI at the end of April. He had just four hits in his first 27 at-bats in May, including one RBI and no homers.
But something started clicking for Plouffe. Since May 14, he’s hit 13 homers and driven in 21 runs while batting .314 in 22 games. He was also slugging .768 in his previous 21 games prior to Friday.
In hitting two home runs against the Brewers, Plouffe set a new Twins record for most homers in interleague play in a season with eight. Torii Hunter previously held the mark with seven. Plouffe hit one homer in each of Minnesota’s three games against Philadelphia, twice in three games against the Cubs two Friday against the Brewers and one in Milwaukee in mid-May.
Before this season, Plouffe had 10 career major league homers in 327 at-bats. Through Friday, he has a team-high 14 homers in 146 at-bats. He showed signs of a power surge last season at Triple-A Rochester, hitting 15 homers in 51 games (192 at-bats) with the Red Wings.
Of Plouffe’s 14 homers this season, though, 12 of them have come without anyone on base. He’s hit a pair of two-run homers, but the rest are all of the solo variety — a reason he has just 24 RBI despite the 14 homers. Plouffe is batting .205 (8-for-39) with 10 RBI and two extra-base hits with runners in scoring position.
Whether or not there are men on base when Plouffe goes deep, the Twins are enjoying the tear he’s on and hope he keeps it up.
“It’s fun to watch. He’s into it. He feels good,” Gardenhire said. “He’s very excited, and he’s picking us up big time. He’s putting a lot of good swings out there.”
FOXSportsNorth.com’s Joan Niesen contributed to this report.
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