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Updated: June 30th, 2012 8:59pm
Joe Mauer's third-ever Target Field HR aids doubleheader sweep of K.C.

Joe Mauer's third-ever Target Field HR aids doubleheader sweep of K.C.

by Phil Mackey
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Courtesy of three early home runs and a solid outing by Cole De Vries, the Minnesota Twins completed a split doubleheader sweep of the Kansas City Royals with a 5-1 victory on Saturday night.

The skinny

Twins hitters flexed their muscles early against Royals right-hander Luke Hochevar.

Josh Willingham's two-run homer with two outs in the first inning put the Twins ahead 2-0.

Chris Parmelee, starting for just the third time since being recalled on June 8, blasted a home run over the bleachers in right field in the bottom of the second inning.

And Joe Mauer laced an opposite-field home run into the flower bed in the third inning to make it 4-1. The blast was just Mauer's third-career at Target Field.

"It felt good to hit a ball out there and get rewarded for it," said Mauer, whose .416 on-base percentage now leads the American League. "A lot of times it's been caught, or maybe fell for a double, but yeah, it's nice to get one over the fence."

Darin Mastroianni delivered an RBI single in the sixth to plate the Twins' fifth run.

De Vries was called up to make his fourth-career major league start as part of MLB's new rule that allows teams to carry a 26th player for scheduled doubleheaders. De Vries held the Royals to just one run -- a solo homer by Billy Butler in the second inning -- on five hits and a walk while striking out six in six innings.

"It does everything to help (confidence)," De Vries said. "How can you not feel good after a good outing?

"I'm hoping that the guys higher up are looking at it the same way, that hey, if someone starts stumbling that I can come in and hopefully repeat a number of outings like that."

De Vries was sent back to Triple-A Rochester after the game, but manager Ron Gardenhire said the right-hander could be back soon.

"He came up and did exactly what we were hoping he would do. ... What a fantastic job by the young man. That's good stuff. He can come back anytime. There's no rules here with that 26th man. ... So if we need him, we go get him."

Turning point

De Vries found himself in some hot water after Butler's home run in the second inning cut the lead to 2-1. Jeff Francoeur followed with a single, and Salvador Perez doubled two batters later to put runners on the corners and one out.

But De Vries was able to fight back and strike out both Jarrod Dyson -- in an 11-pitch at-bat -- and Alex Escobar to end the inning.

"I was so irritated during that whole at-bat (against Dyson), because I was making good pitches, and he was doing an excellent job just nicking them," De Vries said. "There was one, I threw a two-seamer probably about four or five inches off the plate, and he just swung his bat out there and just nicked it. I think it bounced right off Joe's mitt. That was an exhausting at-bat. He did a great job, but I won that one. ...

"Butler is kind of the guy in their lineup that I made sure I wasn't going to make a mistake to, and I did (make a mistake). But beyond that, I felt like I made some decent pitches and they just put some good swings on them. Sometimes that happens, but then it was up to me to execute on the next couple guys to get us out of that jam."

Numbers game

1-5: The Twins' record in split-doubleheader games at Target Field heading into Saturday.

16: Home runs for Willingham this season.

1: Home run for Parmelee this season.

4: Home runs for Mauer this season.

3: Home runs for Mauer in his career at Target Field.

2: Stolen bases for Mastroianni, giving him five on the season.

Health report

RHP Matt Capps (shoulder) hopes to head out on a rehab assignment during the All-Star break.


"Absolutely I'd go. That's an honor. And as long as they keep wanting me to go there, then I'll go. But yeah, four days (of rest) would be nice, definitely, for the body. But if anybody asks you to go to the All-Star Game I think you should go."
-- Mauer, when asked if he'd attend the All-Star Game if selected on Sunday

On deck

Sunday: vs. Royals, 1:10 p.m. LHP Francisco Liriano (2-7, 5.30) vs. LHP Bruce Chen (7-6, 4.53)

Phil Mackey is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd