Twins show off pop, stall in the clutch

Timely hits lacking despite deep drives from Sano, Grossman, Dozier

Twins show off pop, stall in the clutch

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins have turned up the power since July 1, tied for second in the Majors with 48 homers over their last 35 games.

That power was on display against the Astros on Tuesday night as the Twins launched three blasts against starter Mike Fiers, but it wasn't enough because of a lack of success with runners in scoring position in a 7-5 loss at Target Field. The Twins went 1-for-11 in those situations, leaving seven runners on base. It negated homers from Miguel Sano, Robbie Grossman and Brian Dozier.

"We got the home runs to supply the offense but we certainly missed out on our chances to execute, and I think that was big part of the game," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "Not advancing guys from second and third with no outs and getting them in at third. We missed three opportunities in that regard."

The Twins couldn't even score on their lone hit with runners in scoring position, as rookie Jorge Polanco singled in the sixth, but Trevor Plouffe was thrown out at home by center fielder Jake Marisnick while trying to score from second.

Marisnick nabs Plouffe at home

"It was a tough call -- just being aggressive," Molitor said. "I'm not sure if Trevor caught got looking over his back shoulder there. Just trying to make a play there. Marisnick obviously closed on the ball and has a strong arm. You're hoping for a misfire, but it was right on the button."

The Twins wasted a leadoff double from Kurt Suzuki in the third with Grossman unable to get Suzuki over with nobody out. They also had Plouffe at second with none out in the sixth, only for Eddie Rosario to strike out ahead of Polanco's single.

"It's easier said than done," Molitor said. "Robbie was actually trying to pull a pitch but flied out to left. And Rosie had an opportunity but couldn't put it in play. So I think the guys are aware of it. Sometimes it's just getting more experience in those areas."

Sano was the first to go deep with a solo shot in the second, giving him four homers over his last five games. It's been a welcome sign from Sano, who had homered four times in 28 games before the recent outburst.

Minnesota briefly took the lead with the help of back-to-back homers from Grossman and Dozier in the fifth. Grossman's two-run homer gave the Twins a one-run lead and was his first since June 30. Dozier stayed hot, as he now has six blasts over his last 10 games and leads the team with 23 on the year.

Dozier shows off his versatility

It marked the 10th time the Twins hit back-to-back homers this season, which is the third-most in franchise history and the most since they did it 11 times in 1986.

"Miggy, in his first at-bat, on the first pitch he was ready," Molitor said. "Dozier worked a good at-bat and got a changeup. Grossman, in his second time around, he was one of the few guys to get a high-zone fastball and barrel it. So that was our offense with the three long balls."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. 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.