Found May 23, 2012 on
Fox Sports North:
After a 16-4 loss to Milwaukee on Sunday ended whatever momentum Minnesota had gained during a four-game winning streak, the Twins had to sit through an off day Monday before returning to the field.
A lopsided 9-2 win Tuesday against the division rival Chicago White Sox is a good way to get back on track.
"Coming off a day off, you never know what's going to happen," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Tuesday's one-sided victory combined a strong pitching performance from starter P.J. Walters, plenty of runs from Minnesota's offense and solid defense in the field behind Walters. Seemingly this season, the Twins have been able to put one or two facets together in a game, but not usually all three at the same time.
Tuesday, they all came together, and it resulted in a big win.
The offense exploded early and had two big innings against White Sox starter Gavin Floyd. After falling behind 1-0 in the first inning, Minnesota put four runs on the board in the top of the second inning. The Twins added five more runs in the fourth inning with two outs, including two runs on a Josh Willingham single and three more by a Justin Morneau home run, his sixth of the year. Morneau's shot to right field barely cleared the fence, but it counted for three runs nonetheless and helped the Twins give Walters a nice cushion to work with.
"It starts with Willingham there. If he doesn't get a hit, I don't get up," said Morneau, who has nine RBI on the Twins' current road trip. "I get up there and am able to get a changeup there and just try to be aggressive. I was actually just trying to look for something to hit right back at him and use the big part of the field, and I got lucky enough and got it out front and just enough of it to go over the fence."
Defensively, Minnesota turned three double plays behind Walters in three consecutive innings from the third to fifth innings to help keep the pace of the game moving and keep Walters and the Twins in the lead.
"It was awesome," Walters said of the defense. "They came out and scored a few runs early and then made some plays on defense. It makes it easier on me."
And on top of the offense outburst and the solid defense, there was an impressive pitching performance by Walters. After the Twins' rotation struggled all season, Walters pitched Minnesota's first complete game of 2012. In fact, he became the first Twins starter to record an out in the eighth inning.
At 15-27, the Twins still hold one of the worst records in baseball. With Tuesday's win, however, they actually jumped ahead of the Chicago Cubs, who at 15-28 are now at the bottom of all Major League Baseball.
But a look at how the Twins played on this road trip gives an indication that perhaps things are slowly starting to turn around for Gardenhire's club. Minnesota is now 5-1 on its current road trip with two games remaining in Chicago before heading home this weekend. During that streak, the Twins have scored nine or more runs three times they've done so just once the rest of the season. Minnesota has also held its opponents to three or fewer runs three times. Tuesday was just the fourth time that Twins pitchers have allowed two runs or fewer.
Minnesota still has a lot of ground to make up, but the Twins appear to finally be gaining some traction.
"Every time we've gotten pitching on this road trip, we've done pretty good. It's all about the starting pitcher giving us an opportunity," Gardenhire said. "We can score some runs and we get guys healthy out there. We can run around. We have some speed. We have some power. We can steal some bases. But it all goes to the pitching. The starting pitcher has to give us an opportunity. They've been doing that on this road trip for the most part.
"If we continue that, we can play with anybody."Kevin Gorg contributed to this report.Follow Tyler Mason on Twitter
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