6/23/2013 12:52 P.M. ET
Increase in homers a welcome sight for Gardenhire
By Mark Emery / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- Despite 14 home runs in seven games, the Twins still have just 68 long balls on the year entering Sunday, second to last in the American League.
For manager Ron Gardenhire's club, home runs are important. The skipper said Minnesota relies on balls that go over the fence more than usual because of how the roster is tailored.
"I think we probably live with that more than we do the rest of the game," Gardenhire said. "We don't have a lot of speed. We're not a team that can run all over the place. We're not a hit-and-run team. We don't really have a lot of bat-control guys in the lineup, maybe the top and the bottom. So, we have to rely on balls flying out there deep off the wall or over the wall. That's kind of what we look for, like I said, because we're not a real big speed team."
Minnesota has homered in seven straight games. In the previous six, the Twins knocked just one out of the yard.
As of Sunday, the Twins have 33 home runs at home and 35 on the road. They've posted round-trippers in 20 of their last 25 games away from Target Field.
"Easiest way to manage is two- and three-run homers," Gardenhire said. "Believe me. I like watching the ball fly."
When it comes to stolen bases, Minnesota has 23. In the AL, only Detroit has fewer (22).
"We're not a speed team," Gardenhire said. "We have to be able to drive the baseball. We're going to probably live and die with that, because we don't run a lot. We just don't have the speed. Even 3-2 counts. I used to run all the time [on] 3-2. But, really, there's not much advantage to it anymore. We don't move very well."
Twins place Pelfrey on DL with back strain
CLEVELAND -- Mike Pelfrey felt a little stiff after running on Saturday. The Twins weren't sure if he'd be able to start the following day, and after P.J. Walters lasted through just two-thirds of an inning, they decided to have a pitcher from Triple-A Rochester ready to go in case Pelfrey was unavailable.
When Pelfrey woke up on Sunday, he still didn't feel right. Minnesota decided to place him on the 15-day disabled list with a back strain, retroactive to June 19. To take his place, the Twins recalled left-hander Pedro Hernandez, who drove with his family overnight from Louisville to Cleveland to deliver a solid five-inning start on Sunday before getting optioned back to Triple-A.
"If you're driving to Triple-A, it's not the ideal situation. If you're driving to the big leagues, it's an ideal situation," manager Ron Gardenhire said before the game. "He'll be excited. ... He's been throwing well. We know what we've got here. He's got to locate the ball. He's got to use all of his pitches and change speeds."
In five outings (four starts) with Rochester, Hernandez was 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA. He pitched for the Twins during the season's first two months, going 2-1 with a 5.85 ERA in eight appearances (six starts).
Andrew Albers is making his regularly scheduled start for the Red Wings on Sunday, but he's never pitched in the big leagues and the Twins didn't think calling him up in this situation would make for a proper debut.
"We talked to [Rochester manager] Gene Glynn," said Rob Antony, Minnesota's assistant general manager. "He said Hernandez was probably the most prepared to make a spot start like this right now."
After Walters' short-lived outing on Saturday, the Twins used Anthony Swarzak for 3 1/3 innings (67 pitches), Ryan Pressly for three innings (43 pitches) and Caleb Thielbar for an inning (11 pitches).
"A couple guys stepped up and really saved us yesterday," Gardenhire said. "We got some guys who can throw the ball today and can eat up innings, too. We definitely need our starter to get through a few innings here. That would be really nice."
Quote to note
"He's not as young as he used to be. He's doing fine. He's never going to say, 'I can't play.' ... He plays hard, he runs hard, he dives all over the place." -- Gardenhire on Justin Morneau, who had Sunday off.
• Outfielder Wilkin Ramirez was removed from Saturday's game with Class A Advanced Fort Myers after he dove for a ball and said afterward that he had a headache and felt dizzy. Ramirez, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with concussion-like symptoms on June 9, will be re-evaluated before playing again for the Miracle.
• If Aaron Hicks' running goes well on Sunday, the outfielder will fly to Louisville to meet up with Triple-A Rochester. He won't play in the Red Wings' game Monday, but will go through batting practice and other pregame routines. Hicks will likely play Tuesday, when Rochester plays in Indianapolis.
• Right-hander Trevor May was announced on Sunday as the Twins' Minor League Player of the Week. On June 18, May struck out nine hitters over 7 2/3 scoreless innings in a win for Double-A New Britain. Over 10 starts this season, May is 5-2 and owns a 4.11 ERA. He has 53 strikeouts against 25 walks in a span of 57 innings.
Mark Emery is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.