Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 4/12/12
MINNEAPOLIS At least for one day, the M&M Boys are back.Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, two former American League MVPs, have been marred in recent years by various injuries. Last season, the duo combined to play just 151 games for the Minnesota Twins. With neither able to stay healthy or effective, the Twins lost 99 games in 2011.But with two swings of the bat Thursday at Target Field, Mauer and Morneau made one big statement. Each hit key home runs in the Twins' 10-9 win over the Los Angeles Angels, helping Minnesota improve to 2-4 on the young 2012 season.More important, the M&M Boys showed that they once again could be the engine that drives the Twins' offense."When those two are rolling," said outfielder Denard Span, "this team goes."Without Mauer and Morneau, the Twins likely wouldn't have gone anywhere on Thursday. Mauer's fifth-inning homer, a three-run shot, helped trim a daunting 6-0 Angels lead to 6-3. Mauer's long fly to right field just his second career home run at Target Field helped breathe new life into Minnesota's offense.With Mauer ahead of him on base in the eighth inning, Morneau followed suit with a home run of his own, a moon shot estimated at 420 feet to right-center field that drove in two runs and put the Twins up 8-7. Earlier in the at-bat, Morneau swung and missed when, as manager Ron Gardenhire said, he attempted to hit an 8-run home run. But he connected on a 2-1 offering from Rich Thompson for a no-doubter.It was the first time since July 6, 2010 that Mauer and Morneau had homered in the same game. It was the first time in Target Field's three-year history that they did it in the same game at home."We've done it before. It doesn't really matter the ballpark," Morneau said after the game. "Obviously our chances of winning I think are greater if we're both hitting homers, but obviously that's not going to happen all the time, so it's a good feeling."Mauer admitted he couldn't remember the last time he and Morneau both went deep in the same game. Indeed, it had been a while."We've both had our injuries over the years," Mauer said. "It's just good to get out there and square some balls up and have them leave the park. Hopefully we can do that a lot more."Health remains the key for both Mauer and Morneau. Mauer, 28, missed two months a year ago with bilateral leg weakness and was shut down at the end of the season with pneumonia. Morneau, 30, suffered a concussion two seasons ago and has battled symptoms from it the past two seasons, on top of a wrist injury and other ailments.Now, both insist they're healthy again, and Thursday was a sign of that. Mauer finished 3-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs scored. And while Morneau was just 1-for-5 and left seven runners on base, his two-run homer traveled farther and was hit harder than any ball he'd squared up in quite some time."That feeling when it comes off the bat and you know that it's gone, there's nothing like that in baseball, that's for sure. That was one of those, and it rarely happens," Morneau said. "In the moment, the situation, that makes it even better. It's a good feeling. Hopefully it's the start of good things for this team."The Twins are hoping it's the start of something good for Mauer and Morneau. Because as Span said, as the M&M Boys go, so go the Twins. Minnesota added free agents Jamey Carroll, Josh Willingham and Ryan Doumit this offseason, and each has contributed admirably so far this season. In fact, Willingham has four homers in six games, including one in each game at Target Field so far.Yet the Twins know that in order to have any type of long-term success as a team, they'll need Mauer and Morneau to not only stay healthy, but to continue to produce offensively.Mauer and Morneau no doubt realize that too. And so do the fans, which is partially why the boo birds came out at Target Field early in Thursday's game. When both Mauer and Morneau left a runner on third in the first inning, Twins fans became restless, seemingly wanting more from their team's star players.Several innings later, they got they wished for."Every time there's runs out there you want to get them in. You just keep battling, trying to stay positive, and I know a lot of the fans are still frustrated by last season," Mauer said. "But this is a new ballclub and a new team and we're going to fight until that 27th out is recorded."It's a new Mauer and Morneau, too. Or perhaps it's the old Mauer and Morneau, the 2009 and 2006 MVPs, respectively; the three-time batting champ (Mauer) and the former Home Run Derby champ (Morneau).Either way, Twins fans were treated to a day in which the M&M Boys once again played like the M&M Boys if only for one game."It's been a while since we've seen that," Span said. "That was fun. We had a lot of fun today as a team."Follow Tyler Mason on Twitter.
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