MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Trevor Larnach hit a three-run homer, Joey Gallo homered for the second straight game and Louie Varland pitched 6 1/3 solid innings for the Minnesota Twins in a 16-3 win against the Chicago Cubs on Sunday.
Varland (1-0) earned his second career win in his ninth major league start for his hometown Twins, who won their second consecutive series. They posted season highs in runs and hits (18) for the second game in a row after Saturday’s 11-1 victory against Chicago.
Larnach, in his second game since being recalled from Triple-A to replace injured Max Kepler, hit his fourth homer of the season as part of a seven-run third inning that chased Cubs starter Marcus Stroman. Larnach spent a week in the minors after his batting average dropped to .221, but he still led the team with 19 RBIs when he was recalled.
“We talk about guys’ confidence and how they feel, and a lot of that does come down sometimes to one swing, and it doesn’t have to be a homer,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Sometimes one swing can unlock things for guys. In our game, you have a few things go your way, you feel tremendous when you step into the box and you focus in a different way.”
Baldelli was speaking about Larnach, but it could be said of his entire team.
Minnesota hit eight home runs over the final two games of the series, and the 29 runs in the series established a Twins record for most in a three-game set at Target Field, which opened in 2010.
“I mean, I thought we’d been hitting the ball, even before that game, pretty well,” Gallo said. “Especially a guy like Carlos (Correa), he’s been smoking the ball. Sometimes, you get the results. Sometimes, you don’t. Yesterday, obviously, it’s just a confidence boost.”
Stroman (2-4) had his shortest outing that wasn’t cut short due to injury or weather since 2018. The right-hander entered the day tied for the MLB lead with seven quality starts and had pitched at least five innings in each of his previous eight starts this season.
He gave up six runs in 2 2/3 innings.
“Just off mechanically a bit, made some bad pitches and they did damage on them," Stroman said. "It’s just one of those starts you’ve just got to flush and look forward to the next one.”
Christopher Morel and Seiya Suzuki homered for Chicago, which has lost five of seven. Morel’s third homer in five games since being recalled from Triple-A landed in the third deck in left field, projected at 461 feet by MLB’s Statcast.
REASON TO CHEER
Correa had two hits and drove in a pair of runs to continue his strong homestand after acknowledging and saying he understood the boos from the hometown fans in the first game back home on Tuesday. In the five games since, Correa is 7 for 21 with a homer and seven RBIs.
Gallo was in the leadoff spot for Minnesota the past two days, the first time he's been there this season. With the big output, Baldelli said he plans to stick with the arrangement.
“I’ve never really led off before,” Gallo said. "I’ll do whatever the team needs me to do. I’m just fortunate to be in the lineup, obviously. But it’s strange leading off. Definitely strange leading off. But it’s gone pretty good so far, so we’ll see.”
Twins: Gallo left the game after grounding out to end the seventh when he grabbed at the back of his right leg. He said it was just a cramp and he was taken out as a precaution.
Cubs: RHP Jameson Taillon (0-2, 6.41 ERA) will start the first game for Chicago in Houston on Monday against LHP Framber Valdez (3-4, 2.38). Taillon is coming off his shortest outing of the season after he gave up four runs in 2 2/3 innings against St. Louis last Tuesday.
Twins: Open a six-game road trip in Los Angeles with three games against the Dodgers. RHP Pablo López (2-2, 3.47 ERA) will start Monday for Minnesota. Los Angeles is scheduled to pitch RHP Noah Syndergaard (1-3, 6.12). López has a career-high stretch of nine straight starts with at least six strikeouts.