Twins offense stays hot in win over Phillies

Twins offense stays hot in win over Phillies

Twins offense stays hot in win over Phillies
MINNEAPOLIS -- When analyzing his team before the season, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire kept harping on how he felt the offense would be his club's strength this year.

It took a while for the offense to get going, however, as the Twins got off to another slow start coming off of a disappointing 2011 campaign.

But now the offense is rolling, and it was apparent again on Tuesday, as Denard Span, Trevor Plouffe and Josh Willingham each homered to help lead the Twins to an 11-7 win over the Phillies at Target Field.

It was another impressive showing from Minnesota's offense, which has been averaging more than six runs per game over its last nine contests. The Twins are 7-2 over that stretch, and have won 10 of 13.

"It was a fun night if you like to see a lot of runs like that," Gardenhire said. "I like to see us swing the bats like that. You know the guys on the other side can hit. You know it's going to be one of those types of games, because those guys are veterans over there. So it's good to hang on and get a win."

Willingham agreed with his manager, and used "fun" to describe the way the Twins have been playing, considering they lead the Majors in runs scored per game this month, with 60 runs in 10 games.

"These are the fun games," Willingham said. "When you score a lot of runs and bang the ball around, and everybody scores runs and gets hits, it makes it fun."

Span started it off with his fifth career leadoff homer and his second homer of the season in the first inning against right-hander Kyle Kendrick.

The Twins added four more runs in the second, as Plouffe connected on a two-run blast before Ben Revere and Joe Mauer hit back-to-back RBI singles.

"It was down and in," Kendrick said of Plouffe's 10th homer of the season. "Two strikes. Changeup. It was a good pitch. I don't know if he was looking for it. It wasn't a bad pitch with two strikes."

The Phillies, though, came back with four runs of their own in the fourth against right-hander Nick Blackburn. Ty Wigginton brought home the first run on an RBI groundout, before Michael Martinez added a run-scoring single. Jimmy Rollins then brought home two runs with a bloop double off of Willingham's glove in left field.

"I scuffled one inning, and that cost me the chance to go late in the game," said Blackburn, who allowed four runs on eight hits over five innings to pick up the win. "That's part of it. There was a couple well-placed hit balls. Not exactly the outcome I want. But it was a great win for the team to go out there and score as many runs as they did."

Minnesota answered with a run in the fourth on a double from Mauer that plated Span, before scoring twice in the fifth on an RBI single from Plouffe and an RBI double from Jamey Carroll.

"It was good that we could keep the momentum going to help our pitching out a bit," Revere said. "Blackburn threw a good game. They just got a bunch of bloopers in there. That's baseball for you. He pitched a heck of a game, and guys came in and got the key outs."

The Phillies made it interesting again in the sixth against left-hander Brian Duensing, who came on in relief of Blackburn, but loaded the bases with one out. All three runs came in to score, as reliever Alex Burnett gave up an RBI groundout to John Mayberry before former Twins designated hitter Jim Thome laced a two-run single to left.

Minnesota added three insurance runs, however, as Willingham hit a solo shot in the sixth and Carroll and Revere both brought home runs with RBI singles in the seventh.

"It's been a good trend we've been getting into lately," Willingham said of answering back with runs. "We've been coming back and responding after a team scores on us. That's the mark of a team that's getting better."

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