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Updated: August 28th, 2011 4:03pm
Twins Daily: Career day for Luke Hughes helps Twins avoid brooms

Twins Daily: Career day for Luke Hughes helps Twins avoid brooms

by Phil Mackey
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Powered by the two home runs and five RBIs of Luke Hughes, the Minnesota Twins avoided a sweep on Sunday with an 11-4 win over the Detroit Tigers.

The skinny

Hughes nearly stole away Justin Verlander's 20th win on Saturday with a home run, a double and three RBIs.

On Sunday, the Aussie made certain the Tigers weren't leaving town with a sweep.

Hughes blasted two home runs and drove in five -- setting personal single-game career marks in both categories -- to help the Twins cap an otherwise dismal homestand on a high note. Sunday also marked the first multi-homer game in Hughes' young career.

"(Anthony) Swarzak talked to me before the game and told me I was going to hit another one today, so I have to give him a shout out, which was pretty funny," Hughes said.

"I haven't felt like (this) for a while. So it's definitely fun to go up to the plate feeling comfortable, because that's the battle of hitting."

Tigers' starter Brad Penny was bounced after only five innings, having allowed seven earned runs on eight hits and two walks.

Justin Morneau went 3-for-4 with three singles and an RBI, Trevor Plouffe went 2-for-5 with two singles and two runs, and Jason Kubel went 1-for-4 with a two-run homer and three RBIs.

Twins' starter Brian Duensing gave up four runs (three earned) on seven hits and three walks while striking out four in six innings.

"It was obviously a better outing than I've had in a while," said Duensing, who saw his ERA bloat up over 5.00 after a bad outing last week. "I made some good pitches when I needed to. A little shaky here and there, but it was definitely a step in the right direction. ...

The ball was down a lot more, and I was ahead in the count a little more than usual. I think that helped. And I was able to throw the curveball over for strikes, and kind of mixed up the speeds and went in and out, and I think we executed, but we executed down in the zone, and I think that was a big key."

Turning point

Leading 3-2 in the fourth inning, the Twins -- led by Hughes -- flexed their muscles to break the game open.

Danny Valencia opened the inning with a single to right field, and he was driven home after Rene Tosoni's sinking liner snuck under the glove of diving right fielder Magglio Ordonez. Tosoni wound up with a triple, but he wouldn't stand on third base for very long.

Hughes took Brad Penny deep into the bullpen for a two-run homer that put the Twins up 6-2.

"Some guys beat the ball around," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Luke Hughes had a good day, we hit some balls in the seats and Morneau had a good day. ... It was a fun win. Fun to score some runs, take a little pressure off the pitcher."

Numbers game

10: Home runs for Kubel this season.

6: Home runs for Hughes, who also hit six during spring training. He recently tracked down film of his swing during spring training and made some adjustments to help regain that form. "I didn't actually know we had video of spring training until I saw it the other day," Hughes said. "Sometimes it's good to go back and see what you were doing when you were feeling comfortable. So I try to just get (my foot) down a little bit earlier, get prepared a little bit earlier. I changed my hand position as well, and I'm starting to feel more comfortable on a regular occurrence."

2: Wins for the Twins over the 11-game homestand.

6-for-18: Right-handed batters against Duensing on Sunday, also including three walks, three strikeouts and a double.

Health report

• C Joe Mauer (sore neck) was sidelined for a fifth consecutive game Sunday, and he has not caught since August 20. As a result, the Twins recalled Rene Rivera as an extra catcher, but Mauer hopes to be ready again by Monday or Tuesday.

• OF Michael Cuddyer (wrist) said the swelling has gone down significantly, and he hopes to start as soon as Monday. Cuddyer was available off the bench Sunday, but his bat was not needed.

• SS Tsuyoshi Nishioka (oblique) will likely return to the lineup Monday or Tuesday.

• 2B Alexi Casilla (hamstring) could rejoin the Twins in Anaheim next weekend.


"I always think it's right to start the clock."
-- Gardenhire, with a grin, when asked if he thought the Twins should start the service time clocks on Double-A players Chris Parmelee and Joe Benson when it comes time for September call-ups later this week.

On deck

The Twins travel to Chicago for a match-up with the White Sox on Monday (7:10 p.m., 1500 ESPN), with right-hander Kevin Slowey (0-2, 6.84) set to face left-hander Mark Buehrle (10-6, 3.19).

Slowey has not fared well in his first two starts since being recalled from Triple-A. He allowed six earned runs in 5 2/3 innings to the Yankees on Aug. 19, then five earned runs in 4 2/3 innings to the Orioles last week -- the latter after cruising through the first four frames.

Buehrle has been one of the most consistent pitchers in baseball this season. On Aug. 17 against the Indians, Buehrle allowed four earned runs for the first time since April 22 -- a span of 18 starts. In three starts against the Twins this season, Buerhle has allowed only one earned run in 23 innings (0.39 ERA), striking out 14 and walking only three.

Coming up

• Tuesday: @ White Sox, 7:10 p.m. RHP Anthony Swarzak (3-4, 3.62) vs. RHP Zach Stewart (1-3, 4.76)
• Wednesday: @ White Sox, 1:10 p.m. LHP Scott Diamond (0-2, 5.68) vs. RHP Jake Peavy (5-6, 5.06)
• Thursday: Off day

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