Twins dictate rest of game in first frame

Twins dictate rest of game in first frame

MINNEAPOLIS -- Coming off a winning road trip against the Astros, Royals and White Sox, the Twins know the importance of their 10-game homestand as they remain in the thick of the chase for the second American League Wild Card spot.

The Twins opened their long stretch at Target Field by jumping out to an early lead against the Tigers en route to a 7-1 win on Monday night. All nine Twins position players reached base safely, and all but Brian Dozier had a hit, although he drew two walks and scored a run.

The offense's performance helped Minnesota remain one game behind Texas in the AL Wild Card hunt, as the Twins have won four of five.

"That's what we need," said third baseman Trevor Plouffe, who went 1-for-3 with a walk and two RBIs. "Our offense is feeling pretty good right now. And our pitching is doing well, so you match those things up and that's when the wins start coming. It's a good sign for us right now."

Plouffe helped the Twins get on the board in a hurry, as they loaded the bases with one out in the first after Aaron Hicks singled, Joe Mauer doubled and Miguel Sano walked. Plouffe hit a high flyball to right that kept carrying and went off the wall for a two-run double as part of a four-run first against Tigers lefty Kyle Lobstein.

Plouffe improved to 8-for-15 with three doubles, two homers and 22 RBIs with the bases loaded this season, and he credited hitting coach Tom Brunansky for helping him in those scenarios.

"Against that guy today, our plan was to stay short and take what he gave us," Plouffe said. "Bruno and I always talk about just trying to get one in those situations. That's what I did, but the ball just kept carrying and I was able to get two."

The Twins knocked Lobstein out after 1 1/3 innings, as he gave up six runs on seven hits and two walks. Twins manager Paul Molitor has said throughout the season that the game can be won or lost in the first inning, and it was certainly the case. Twins rookie right-hander Tyler Duffey was able to work out of a bases-loaded jam in the top half of the first, while the Twins were able to make the most of their bases-loaded situation in the bottom half.

"The first inning was huge on both sides," Molitor said. "Getting the double play to get off the field after a rough start was really big and picked the team up. And then we came back and put together a good inning. Hicks with a good at-bat, Joe had a big night for us and Trevor did his job, trying to get one run in but was rewarded with two. And then a big hit at the end from [Kurt] Suzuki there."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.