Duo causing havoc for Twins
Span, Casilla break out of slumps at right time for Minnesota
MINNEAPOLIS -- Coming into Thursday's contest between the White Sox and Twins that would decide the American League Central leader, Minnesota had beaten the division leaders with two distinct styles.
One was familiar to the club and its fan base. One was not.
The Twins uncharacteristically bashed three home runs in Tuesday's 9-3 victory and then eeked out a 3-2 win on Wednesday with a blend of pitching, defense, and a pesky offense that made do without aid of an extra base hit.
The team will rely more heavily on the latter formula to be successful, as the regular season comes to an end with a potential postseason berth on the line.
Enter the duo that sits atop the Twins' lineup, Denard Span and Alexi Casilla. The pair entered the series mired in slumps that carried into Tuesday's contest, going a combined 0-for-10. Span had batted .179 (7-for-39) since Sept. 14, prior to Wednesday's game and Casilla had hit .178 (8-for-45) since Sept. 11.
The tandem was bailed out by the aforementioned power outburst on Tuesday, and then stepped up their offense when it was needed, during Wednesday's tight contest. Each went 1-for-3, drawing a walk. Span also had an RBI and a run scored.
"[Tuesday] neither one of us got on base -- that's something that can't happen," Span said. "We know we are the guys that have to set the table and get on base for the other guys to knock us in. [Tuesday], we didn't do our job. [On Wednesday], I think we were both on base twice apiece. That's all the team is asking from us. I don't think they are asking for us to hit doubles or even get base hits, just try to find a way to get on base for the other guys to drive in."
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was pleased with the pair's performance on Wednesday.
"Span battled as well as anybody else," Gardenhire said. "He drew a walk leading off the game, which was huge for us. Just drawing a walk, that gets everyone into the game. Seeing pitches, both of them do that. Both of them have an attack plan, what they are trying to do. Alexi is flaring the ball [the other] way. They have attack plans, it's not always perfect, but that's what we want them to do ... bunting, getting runners over, all those things."
Thor Nystrom is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.