7/5/2013 6:59 P.M. ET
Morneau finding stride amidst Canadian homecoming
By Rhett Bollinger / MLB.com
TORONTO -- Justin Morneau has been swinging a hot bat recently, and it's come just in time for the Canada native's homecoming against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
Morneau, a New Westminster, British Columbia native, has seen some of his power return, as he's hitting .269 with four homers and 12 RBIs over his last 14 games. Morneau only had two homers through his first 62 games of the season.
"My swing is starting to feel more like my swing," Morneau said. "I'm starting to feel a lot more comfortable at the plate. I'm a believer in keep working hard and good things will happen -- hopefully that's the case."
Friday marked the first game in Canada for Morneau since the Twins faced the Blue Jays to open the 2011 season, as he missed the last three games of the season last year in Toronto. Morneau entered the series just a career .207 hitter at Rogers Centre, but he does have six homers in 23 games there.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has been happy with Morneau's power recently, as his extra work with hitting coach Tom Brunansky has been paying off. Morneau crushed two homers against the Yankees on Thursday to mark his first multi-homer game since Sept. 9, 2012.
"He's been working at it, and the ball is starting to fly over the fence now," Gardenhire said. "So that's important with [Josh] Willingham out. Right now, we need guys to step up, and Morneau is doing that."
Gardenhire pulling for Perkins in All-Star balloting
TORONTO -- With a healthy lead in the balloting among American League catchers, Joe Mauer appears to be a lock for the All-Star Game, but the Twins are hoping closer Glen Perkins joins him in New York for the Midsummer Classic.
The rosters will be unveiled on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET on the 2013 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show on FOX. The All-Star Game will be played at Citi Field on July 16.
"We're hoping Perkins has a good shot, and Joe is pretty much a lock," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "So we'll see. We'll find out tomorrow."
Perkins has been impressive this year with a 1.99 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings. The left-hander, who is aiming for his first career All-Star Game appearance, also has 20 saves in 22 chances.
Gardenhire encouraged by Burton's outing vs. Yanks
TORONTO -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he was encouraged by reliever Jared Burton's 1-2-3 inning against the Yankees on Thursday, and will continue to try to find spots for him to work through his recent struggles.
Burton threw a perfect ninth inning on Thursday, retiring Zoilo Almonte, Robinson Cano and Travis Hafner in order. It was a nice bounce-back effort after posting an 11.00 ERA in nine innings over his previous 10 outings.
"He threw his fastball, and we liked that a lot -- every pitch but one was a fastball -- and that was the goal," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "You have to command the fastball in his league, and then you can go to your other stuff. We know he has a great changeup and a nice slider, but when they're constantly spitting on those, you can't put away a hitter."
Gardenhire said he'll use right-hander Casey Fien or left-hander Caleb Thielbar in the eighth inning until Burton works his way back into that role. Burton has a 4.17 ERA in 36 2/3 innings this year after posting a 2.18 ERA in 62 innings last year.
"We'll use Fien probably in the eighth inning and go from there with Thielbar and some of those guys," Gardenhire said. "We liked what we saw yesterday, and now we'll have to do it again and we'll go from there. We need him back in the eighth inning spot. But first we want him to get going and feel good about himself."