Hughes homers twice, Twins top Tigers 11-4

Published 9:09 am Monday, August 29, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS — Like so many of his teammates, Luke Hughes has been back and forth between Minnesota and the minors almost too many times to count.

The affable Australian began his fourth stint with the Twins this season in powerful fashion.

Hughes hit two home runs to help the Twins take out their hitting frustration on Brad Penny and the Detroit Tigers, stopping a seven-game losing streak with an 11-4 victory on Sunday. Hughes has gone deep three times in two days.

Email newsletter signup

“We know he can do it. We’re just happy he’s starting to do that now,” said designated hitter Jason Kubel, who also hit a two-run shot. You can expect a lot more of that this year and next year.”

Next year will depend a lot on how Hughes does in this final month. With 29 games to go for the injury-ravaged fourth-place Twins, extended auditions for their young players have trumped the usual division race.

“You need to take advantage of the opportunity, and if you don’t you wind up in the minor leagues,” said Hughes, who is playing second base while Alexi Casilla is out with a strained hamstring. Hughes added: “When you know you’re going out there getting regular at-bats, it’s good. It makes you feel more comfortable.”

Hughes drove in five runs for the first time in his career, backing Brian Duensing (9-13) and sparking the Twins to just their fourth win against the Tigers in their last 19 meetings.

Penny (9-10) gave up eight hits, seven runs and two walks in five innings. He struck out five, but this was another non-Justin Verlander flop by the rotation. The Tigers fell to 52-52 when their dazzling, dominant right-hander doesn’t start the game; they’re 21-8 when he does.

Jason Kubel also homered, a two-run shot in the first inning, off Penny and drove in three runs. After scoring just nine runs in the previous seven games, the Twins finally broke out. They were without regulars Casilla, Michael Cuddyer, Joe Mauer and Denard Span, too.

Hughes hit a two-run drive off the tall wall behind the bullpen in right-center field in the fourth inning after an RBI triple by Rene Tosoni. Then Hughes hit a three-run homer against David Pauley in the seventh.

“He’s a strong guy, and when he gets hot it’s one of those things where you need to look out for him,” said shortstop Trevor Plouffe.