MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins are barreling toward a fourth straight 90-loss season, with little hope that things will turn around very quickly.
During such difficult times, it can be hard to find much positivity to cling to, but they have quietly put together an impressive month at the plate.
Eduardo Escobar got a career-high five hits, including a homer and a triple, and the Twins batted around twice in a 20-6 rout of the Tigers on Friday night.
The 20 runs are the most in a major league game this season and the Twins have scored an MLB-best 113 runs in August.
"It's exciting to see those guys walk up to the plate," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "But those guys are swinging. They're getting their licks in."
Danny Santana had a homer and four RBIs and Oswaldo Arcia and Trevor Plouffe also homered for the Twins, who scored six runs in the second inning and nine in the sixth to drop the Tigers to 2½ games behind Kansas City in the AL Central race.
The Twins pummeled Robbie Ray (1-4), who lasted just 1 1-3 innings, giving up six runs and six hits. Ian Kinsler led off the game with a homer for Detroit, but the team with the vaunted starting pitching staff was reduced to using infielder Andrew Romine on the mound in the eighth inning. Arcia and Plouffe homered off Romine.
"I think we're just taking better at-bats," said Plouffe, who had three hits and three RBIs. "We added a big part of our lineup in Kennys (Vargas). He's done a good job right in the middle of our order. It's good getting Joe (Mauer) back. I think we got our first four, five batters situated and that helps a lot."
Vargas had two doubles and had two hits and three RBIs. Kurt Suzuki went 0 for 6 on the night, but in a classy gesture, the veteran catcher never took a swing during his at-bat against Romine in the eighth inning.
Romine gave up a double to Vargas to begin the inning and then threw a wild pitch. Arcia and Plouffe followed with 822 feet of combined homers, so Suzuki went down looking to try to keep the game moving with a doubleheader looming on Saturday.
The Tigers scored four times in the fifth to cut the deficit to 6-5, but Minnesota sent 14 batters to the plate in the sixth inning to break it wide open. Joe Mauer came to the plate with the bases loaded twice in the inning, driving in two with a single and forcing one home on a walk, the sixth by a Tigers pitcher in a rugged frame that also included two errors from Kinsler at second base and Nick Castellanos at third.
"This was a bad game, embarrassing really," manager Brad Ausmus said. "There's not much to say."
Tigers: Ausmus said RHP Anibal Sanchez, on the disabled list with a right pectoral strain, played catch before the game. Ausmus said Sanchez reported that everything went fine and he would play catch again on Saturday. Closer Joakim Soria (oblique) is scheduled to do some throwing on Saturday as well.
The Twins will recall right-hander Yohan Pino (1-5, 5.37) from Triple-A Rochester to start the first game of a day-night doubleheader. He will face Tigers righty Buck Farmer (0-0, 7.20), who is being recalled from Triple-A Toledo. Both teams are allowed to call a 26th player up for the twinbill.
Twins GM Terry Ryan caused a stir on Thursday when he told the Star Tribune of Minneapolis that Gardenhire will likely return next season.
Ryan didn't back down from those comments before the game, but did say there is a lot of season left and any final decision will not be made until after this year concludes. Gardenhire, who is under contract for one more season, said the two have not had discussions yet about his future.
"We've got to do a better job," Ryan said. "I'm not pointing a finger at the manager or the pitching coach or the hitting coach. It's all of us."
THANKS A LOT
The Twins didn't get much help from their home crowd in Detroit's four-run fifth when a fan in the stands along the right field line reached out and stole a pop fly away from the right fielder Arcia. A frustrated Arcia threw his hands in the air and the fan sheepishly put his hands on his head as a girl sitting next to him laughed.
Eugenio Suarez reached on a single later in the at-bat.