Small-ball Twins on homer tear
Team not abandoning style of play despite dinger barrage
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins are on a homer tear, going deep in eight consecutive games. But the team's biggest slugger doesn't have an explanation as to why."To tell you the truth, I don't really know," said Twins first baseman Justin Morneau, who leads the club with 13 homers. "Obviously, we've got a few hitters that are pretty hot right now." The Twins are on pace to hit 186 homers this season, 75 more than a year ago. But as baseballs leave the ballpark at such an impressive rate, the club still knows the importance of small ball. "I think we're just playing the game right now and swinging the bats pretty well," Morneau said. "The balls just happen to be going into the seats." They've been finding the seats quite often in May, as the 37 dingers the Twins have hit this month more than double their total from April (16). "It's just a good groove we're in right now," right fielder Michael Cuddyer said. "We're just seeing the ball well, putting together good at-bats. Power's the result of it." No Twins player is hitting the ball better than catcher Joe Mauer, who has homered in each of his past three games and four of his past five. His 11 home runs since returning to the lineup May 1 has sparked the Minnesota offense, and his newfound power has turned a lot of heads. Whether or not he can keep up this torrid pace, however, is the big question. "We don't expect Joe to hit a home run every eight at-bats," Morneau said. "But he continues to swing the bat well." With a pair of dingers in Monday's 6-5 loss to Boston -- including a pinch-hit homer in the ninth by Mauer -- Minnesota has homered 17 times over its past eight games. It hasn't just been Mauer and Morneau putting balls in the seats. Cuddyer also had a homer Monday, his fourth in six games and eighth of the season. And third baseman Joe Crede -- who also has eight on the year -- homered in three of his past four games before missing time with a bruised hand. Having played in Chicago for a very potent White Sox offense that led the Majors with 235 home runs a year ago, Crede's no stranger to the long ball. Now, he's a part of Minnesota's traditionally small-ball style of play. "You see some of the guys that are hitting the home runs -- Morneau, [Jason] Kubel, Mauer -- these guys can definitely score runs," Crede said. "Any way they can score runs is definitely going to be a positive." Cuddyer expects the Twins to reach the seats more times than they did a season ago. But he and his teammates still won't stray from the brand of baseball they've come to be known for. "That's the thing is that we're still not going to rely on the home runs," Cuddyer said. "You still have to rely on manufacturing runs and playing the game the right way. That's the way the game's meant to be played."
Tyler Mason is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.