The Minnesota Twins were among the league's worst both at the plate and on the mound in 2013.
While the pitching staff has yet to come around, at least their offense has been able to produce at times without some of their key hitters.
Coming off their third double-digit scoring performance of the season, the Twins hope to get a better outing from Ricky Nolasco as they face James Shields and the visiting Kansas City Royals on Saturday.
Minnesota (4-6) finished 13th in the 15-team AL in runs and 29th in the majors in ERA while losing at least 96 games for the third straight year. It ranks second-to-last with a 5.79 ERA in 2014, but the offense has delivered to keep the team afloat.
Each of the Twins' wins have come when they've scored at least seven runs, including a 10-1 victory in Friday's series opener. They scored at least 10 runs six times all of last season.
Trevor Plouffe had three hits, Chris Colabello drove in three runs and Josmil Pinto hit a solo homer.
'When you get two-out hits, drive in some runs, it's a real dagger to the other team,' Colabello said after Minnesota scored six of its first seven runs with two out.
Minnesota snapped a nine-game home losing streak while ending Kansas City's seven-game run at Target Field. Kyle Gibson had his second straight solid outing, but the other four starters have a combined 7.50 ERA.
'Gibby gave us the performance we needed and then our offense came through,' said acting manager Terry Steinbach, who also will fill in for this contest as Ron Gardenhire attends the funeral for the son of umpire John Hirschbeck.
Minnesota was able to put up another solid offensive performance despite Oswaldo Arcia (wrist) and Jason Bartlett (sprained left ankle) being on the disabled list. The Twins also announced they will put Josh Willingham on the DL prior to this contest.
Willingham has been out since being hit in the left wrist with a pitch last Saturday.
"He's just not feeling any better," assistant general manager Rob Antony told the team's official website.
Minnesota is hoping Nolasco (0-1, 9.00 ERA) has recovered from a pair of poor outings. He gave up five runs and 10 hits in six innings of a 5-3 loss the White Sox on March 31, then allowed that same amount of runs in just four frames as the Twins held on for a 10-7 win over Cleveland on Sunday.
The right-hander has never faced Kansas City, which hopes to provide some offense for Shields (0-1, 2.70).
He gave up one run in seven innings before the Royals fell 5-1 to the Chicago White Sox on Sunday.
"Me and (pitching coach Dave Eiland) worked on my delivery in my last bullpen session and got everything locked in," Shields said. "I started throwing my curveball for strikes, which I was pretty pleased with. For the most part, just staying aggressive and trusting my stuff.'
Aside from one tough outing in a loss April 6, 2013, the right-hander has pitched well against the Twins recently. Shields is 4-2 with a 3.35 ERA the last eight times he's faced them, giving up two earned runs or fewer six times.
The Royals (4-5) hope they can overcome their struggles at the plate from the opener, as Billy Butler drove in their only run on an RBI groundout in the first inning.
Mike Moustakas had two of Kansas City's five hits.
'Five hits is all we could muster all night long,' manager Ned Yost said. 'It started out good for us and you're thinking, 'OK, we can add on to that.' But we never quite could.'
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved