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Updated: August 10th, 2010 10:56pm
Twins move into first place; Jason Kubel's adjustments paying off

Twins move into first place; Jason Kubel's adjustments paying off

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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The Minnesota Twins used a barrage of home runs in a 12-6 win over the White Sox on Tuesday night, moving back into sole possession of first place in the American League Central for the first time since July 2.

The five home runs -- hit by Jim Thome, J.J. Hardy, Joe Mauer, Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel -- were a season-high for Minnesota, which shouldn't really come as a surprise considering how much the offense has been mashing as of late.

What folks may not realize, however, is that the White Sox pitching staff had allowed the fewest home runs in all of baseball (82) heading into Tuesday night -- a miraculous (and perhaps lucky) feat, considering A.) the homer-happy track records of their starting pitchers, and B.) the hitter-friendly confines of U.S. Cellular Field.

Kubel's blast -- his 16th of the season -- came in the eighth inning off Scott Linebrink at a relatively meaningless time, but his overall performance is worth mentioning. Kubel reached base all five times, going 2-for-2 with a home run, a single, three walks, four runs scored, and two RBIs, giving him 70 RBIs on the season.

As of June 8, Kubel was hitting only .225/.338/.367 with six home runs, but it was right around that time he started implementing a few adjustments.

"Kube loves to swing, so he likes to take extra BP, likes to go in the cage," manager Ron Gardenhire said back in mid-June. "I think the game is always about adjustments, and he realized that the secret to success (at Target Field) is down the lines. So he got up on the plate and made a few adjustments recently where he's been hooking the ball a little bit better, and a little bit better results."

Moving up on the plate not only helped Kubel at Target Field, but it's also apparently helped him on the road, where his OPS was 23 points higher than at home heading into Tuesday night.

Since June 8 -- and since moving up on the plate -- Kubel is hitting .308/.361/.535 with 10 home runs, raising his season line to a much more respectable .270/.350/.458.

That's the Jason Kubel we've grown accustomed to since 2008, yet his performance over the last two months is overshadowed by the re-emergence of Mauer, the health concerns surrounding Justin Morneau, and the various storylines revolving around the pitching staff at any given time.

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