The Sports Xchange

MLB Team Report - Minnesota Twins - INSIDE PITCH

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Twins got two key contributors back from the 15-day disabled list Monday prior to opening a three-game series against the Kansas City Royals at Target Field.

Both Trevor Plouffe and Eduardo Nunez were in the starting lineup Monday and Nunez paid immediate dividends, going 2-for-4 with an RBI double in the fifth inning. The run was Minnesota's only one of the night in a 6-1 loss.

"Good to get them back," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Hopefully, they'll bring some enthusiasm to our offense and we can start scoring some runs."

Offense has been an issue for the Twins since the beginning of May. Minnesota is 15th in runs scored this season in all of baseball, but much of that is thanks in part to a strong April. During their six-game road trip to Anaheim and Texas, a stretch where they went 1-5, Minnesota scored only three runs per game. Monday against the Royals, the Twins left 11 runners on and went 1-for-12 at the dish with runners in scoring position, a stat the Twins ranked 22nd in this season entering play Monday.

"We need to pick it up and maybe take some pressure off of our pitchers," Gardenhire said. "We haven't really had a big inning early in a game for awhile."

Nunez has been a solid find for the Twins since acquiring him in a trade from the New York Yankees on April 7. After going 2-for-4 Monday, he's hitting .301 this season.

Plouffe has been a bit of a disappointment since a hot start. His batting average was at .304 at the end of April, but Plouffe has struggled since, seeing his average drop more than 60 points. Perhaps more alarming has been his lack of power. Since hitting 24 homers two years ago in a bit of a breakout campaign, Plouffe has only five home runs halfway through this season.

Plouffe, who missed 14 games with a rib ailment, has been with the team the last three days in Texas, taking swings and getting back into game shape.

"He said he feels good and he looks good," Gardenhire said.

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MLB Team Report - Minnesota Twins - NOTES, QUOTES

RECORD: 37-44

STREAK: Lost one

NEXT: Royals (RHP James Shields, 8-3, 3.79 ERA) at Twins (RHP Ricky Nolasco, 4-6, 5.74 ERA)

PLAYER NOTES:

--RHP Yohan Pino took the loss Monday, his second straight defeat, allowing four runs over 5 2/3 innings pitched. Despite possessing a fastball that hovers in the high-80s, Pino has fanned 12 hitters in 15 2/3 innings of work through three starts.

--C Kurt Suzuki busted out of a mini-slump Monday by getting two hits. He's hitting .467 over his last eight games at Target Field, and has at least one hit in each of those games. Suzuki went 0-for-17 on the Twins' recent six-game road trip to Anaheim and Texas.