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Updated: September 19th, 2012 8:32pm
Josh Willingham becomes first Twins player to hit 35 HRs since 1970

Josh Willingham becomes first Twins player to hit 35 HRs since 1970

by Phil Mackey
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With a two-run blast in the top of the fifth inning off Cleveland Indians right-hander Zach McAllister on Wednesday night, Josh Willingham became the first Minnesota Twins player since 1970 to reach the 35-home run plateau.

Harmon Killebrew hit 41 homers in 1970.

Willingham also becomes just the third individual player in Twins franchise history to hit 35 or more home runs in a season. Killebrew reached the plateau eight times and Bob Allison once in 1963 (35).

Willingham, 33, signed a three-year, $21 million contract last winter, effectively replacing Michael Cuddyer's bat in the lineup.

Cuddyer, also 33, signed for $31.5 million over three years with the Colorado Rockies. But he has suffered through an injury-plagued season while hitting .260/.317/.489 with 16 home runs.

The Twins suffered from a great power outage during baseball's most prolific power surge, going without any 30-home run hitters from 1987 to 2006. Torii Hunter and Justin Morneau ended that drought by hitting 31 and 34 home runs, respectively, during the '06 campaign.

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