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Productive month for Twins offense

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MINNEAPOLIS — If the month of August is any indication of the coming years for the Minnesota Twins, the future certainly looks bright.

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Entering Sunday, the Twins rank tops in the majors in batting average, hits, on-base percentage, runs, doubles and RBIs in the month of August. They’re also second in stolen bases, tied for second in home runs and tied for fifth with six triples.

“Putting the ball in play, that opens up a bunch of stuff,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. “It can’t be one or two guys hot for you to win. We have a group right now that’s swinging pretty good.”

Every part of the Twins lineup has come through over the first three weeks of the month. Leadoff man Danny Santana has continued his remarkable season, hitting .330 this month entering Sunday with two homers, 10 RBIs and six stolen bases. Behind him, Brian Dozier is in the midst of the Twins’ first 20/20 season in over a decade and Joe Mauer has returned with a vengeance since coming off the disabled list on Aug. 11, hitting .333 and getting on base at a .447 clip.

With those three setting the table, rookie Kennys Vargas and second-year outfielder Oswaldo Arcia have been taking advantage. Vargas is averaging more than one RBI per game since making his major league debut on Aug. 1. His 22 RBIs through his first 21 games in the bigs is the most by any player since Albert Pujols in 2001.

“That’s pretty special,” Dozier said. “It’s been great to see, he’s having a great first month of his career. Still asking questions, still all ears so that’s good to see.”

Arcia has emerged from a slump in June and July to hit seven homers this month — tied for second most in the majors — and knock in 20 runs.

Behind them, third baseman Trevor Plouffe’s 37 doubles are fourth most in the majors and are tied for the most by a Twins third baseman in franchise history with Corey Koskie’s 37 in both 2001 and 2002.

Shortstop Eduardo Escobar is 10th in the bigs with 33 doubles and is in the midst of a breakout season hitting .284.

Inconsistency on the mound has kept the Twins from jumping back into the American League Central race and Minnesota will be battling to avoid a fourth straight season with 90 losses. But it’s months at the plate like this one that provide hope for 2015 and beyond.

“Everybody is accepting the role of what kind of player they are, which is good to see, especially out of the young guys,” Dozier said. “When we’re doing what we’re doing, it’s a lot of fun.”

Notes, quotes

RECORD: 58-72

STREAK: Lost two

NEXT: Twins (RHP Ricky Nolasco, 5-9, 5.96 ERA) at Royals (LHP Danny Duffy, 8-11, 2.53 ERA)

PLAYER NOTES

n RHP Yohan Pino reported soreness behind his right throwing elbow following a five-inning performance in game one of Saturday’s doubleheader. Pino was optioned to Triple-A Rochester after the game but will remain in the Twin Cities to get treatment.

n 3B Trevor Plouffe doubled in the seventh inning Sunday. The double was his 37th this season, tying Corey Koskie’s franchise record among third basemen. Koskie hit 37 doubles in both 2001 and 2002.

n CF Danny Santana went 2-for-5 Sunday and drove in two runs. He has a hit in nine straight games, hitting .342 with two doubles, three triples and a homer with six RBIs over that span.

n DH Kennys Vargas went 3-for-5 and has hit safely in 19 of his 23 career games in the big leagues. Sunday’s game was his 10th multi-hit game and the three hits tied his career high. He has at least two hits in four of his last five games.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “That ball was on the white line (of the batter’s box). Pretty incredible. Combination of strength and just being pretty good. It’s impressive.” — Twins RHP Kyle Gibson, on the pitch he threw to Tigers DH Victor Martinez that Martinez hit for a two-run homer in the sixth inning Sunday in a 13-4 Detroit win.

Roster report

MEDICAL WATCH:

n RHP Yohan Pino (sore right throwing elbow) reported soreness on Aug. 23. Pino was optioned to Triple-A Rochester after the game but remained in the Twin Cities to get treatment.

n RHP Mike Pelfrey (strained left groin, right elbow surgery in June 2014) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 2, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 19. He began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Rochester on May 16. He returned from Rochester on May 28 after experiencing elbow soreness. He underwent surgery June 10 to clean up scar tissue in his right elbow that was causing pressure on his ulnar nerve. He began a throwing program in late July, but he will not return to action this season.

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