MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has liked what he's been seeing from Trevor Plouffe, who has been on a home run tear over the past three weeks.
Plouffe's seven homers since May 16 are tied for fifth in the Majors and tied for fourth in the American League. He also ranks second in at-bats per home run to the Cubs' Alfonso Soriano over that span.
"I don't know if he's a pull hitter, but I know he's definitely up there trying to drive a baseball," Gardenhire said. "He works awful hard to try to shoot the ball the other way and drive it the other way. That probably helps him during the game to stay through the ball. His bat stays in the zone longer than it used to. Or at least that's what they tell me. All I know is he's hitting them into the seats."
Plouffe, who has seen time at third base, shortstop, second base, first base, left field and right field this season, has eight homers on the year. He's still hitting just .198 in 38 games, but is batting .262 since May 16.
Back from injuries, Mauer, Span return to lineup
MINNEAPOLIS -- Catcher Joe Mauer and center fielder Denard Span both returned to the Twins' lineup on Saturday against the Cubs.
Mauer, who sprained his right thumb while swinging the bat on Sunday, missed four games with his injury. But he was back at catcher and batting third on Saturday.
Span, meanwhile, was out of the starting lineup on Friday with flu-like symptoms. He served as a pinch-runner late in the game and felt much better on Saturday. He started in center and was back in his usual leadoff spot in the order.
"They're in; they're good," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Denard came in and said he was feeling good today. And Joe is ready to go. He's ready to catch. The whole package."
Target Field home to rare homer barrage
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins and Cubs combined for five home runs on Friday, tying for the third-most dingers hit in a game at Target Field.
Toronto hit six against Minnesota on Sept. 30, 2010, and the Twins and the White Sox combined for six on Aug. 17, 2010. The Twins and the Tigers hit five on Sept. 2 of last year.
Friday's five homers traveled a combined estimated distance of 2,016 feet, including 440- and 431-foot shots from the Cubs' Alfonso Soriano.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said it was as small as he's seen the park play. Target Field averaged 1.89 home runs per game this season entering Saturday, the sixth fewest in the American League according to ESPN's Home Run Tracker.
"We saw that during BP yesterday. The ball was really jumping," Gardenhire said. "It's flying today again."