Club hopes breakout game gets Hicks clicking
Twins rookie center fielder robs home run, swats pair of solo shots
MINNEAPOLIS -- With a breakout game against the White Sox on Monday, the Twins are hoping rookie Aaron Hicks can get on a roll.
Hicks, who entered Monday's game with a .137 average and one homer, had his best game in the Majors, hitting two homers and robbing a potential game-tying homer in center with a leaping catch.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he's hoping it can be a springboard for Hicks, who registered not only his first career multihomer game but his first multihit game.
"It can be," Gardenhire said. "It's just day by day. But the thing about baseball is that you can't take it with you. When you play a game, you have turn around and do it again the next night. So it's about consistency and he understands that part of it. So he has to turn the page and move on, but confidence is a huge part of baseball and right now I would imagine his confidence is at a peak."
Twins first baseman Justin Morneau was impressed by Hicks' performance and thought he was helped by missing two games with a hyperextended elbow to clear his head.
"I think having the couple days off allowed him to regroup and sit back," Morneau said. "We don't need him to be Superman. We just need him to be Aaron Hicks and that's good enough for us. He's capable of being a Major League Baseball player. He doesn't need to be a superstar as soon as he gets here. He just needs to keep working hard and keep trying to get better and he's doing that. I think he's got a lot of good days ahead of him."
Morneau, Mauer spearheading offensive surge
MINNEAPOLIS -- After struggling to score runs in April, the Twins have caught fire offensively in May behind Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer.
Minnesota is tied with Detroit with the most runs scored in baseball this month, with 76 in 13 games. The Twins are averaging 5.8 runs per game, which is a marked improvement on the four runs per game they averaged in April.
Morneau has been a big reason for the turnaround, as he has a hit in 10 straight games -- after going 2-for-5 in Tuesday's 4-2 loss to the White Sox -- and is batting .425 (17-for-40) over that stretch. He also leads the Majors with 17 RBIs in May.
"He's a huge part of our lineup," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "This guy has been an MVP. He's been beat up the last couple years, but you can see what he can do when he's healthy. He can come up and drive a baseball. I think the best part of it is last year you saw a smile on his face and he was healthy and better. And this year since Spring Training, he hasn't really had to hold back at all. And so that's been fun to watch."
Mauer is also a major part of the offense's success, as he extended his hit streak to a season-high 13 games with a single in the first inning against the White Sox on Tuesday. Gardenhire said he'll continue to bat Mauer second in the lineup despite not getting much production from the leadoff spot, as Twins leadoff hitters have combined to rank last in the Majors with a .189 batting average and a .231 on-base percentage.
"I like Joe where he's at," Gardenhire said. "The lineup rolls around him. He seems to come up with some pretty big situations. If I move him up, I still have to move everybody else around. Who would be our second hitter? [Josh] Willingham isn't a second hitter and Morneau isn't a second hitter. So we'll let it flow. Right now we're swinging good and scoring runs, so we'll leave them the way they are."
Twins-Angels makeup game set for Sept. 9
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins' postponed game on April 17 against the Angels at Target Field will be made up on Monday, Sept. 9 at 6:10 p.m. CT, the club announced Tuesday.
Both teams had a mutual off-day on Sept. 9, with the Twins in the middle of a homestand against the Blue Jays, A's and Rays. The Angels will head from Anaheim to Minnesota for the one game before heading to Toronto.
The date of the makeup game required the approval of Twins players because it means the club will play 24 straight days to end the regular season. The Collective Bargaining Agreement maintains that player approval is needed to play 20 or more days in a row.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said it'll be a tough stretch to end the season, but at least the club will be able to have a bigger roster with September callups available.
"Well, we'll have extra players in September with expanded rosters," Gardenhire said. "So we'll go from [Sept. 4] to end of the year without a day off, but at least we'll have players and pitchers. So that helps. But it'll still be a long run there."
The Twins also have two more games to make up. They're set to play the Mets on Aug. 19 at 1:10 p.m. at Target Field after their April 14 meeting was postponed due to weather. They'll also play in a split doubleheader against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on Aug. 9 after having their game postponed due to weather on April 19.