Plouffe hitting his stride in September stretch
Twins third baseman benefiting from sessions with hitting coach Brunansky
MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe has been swinging a hot bat lately, and he credited hitting coach Tom Brunansky for helping him find his swing after struggling coming out of the All-Star break.
Plouffe has been on fire in September, as his 15 hits entering Tuesday night's series opener with the A's were the second most in baseball and his .441 average is the fourth-highest mark in the Majors. He'd also hit .400 with two homers and four doubles over his previous 13 games.
"I'm just up there trying to have good at-bats," Plouffe said. "Bruno and I have been working hard. I struggled to start the second half, but I'm not just going to lay it down. I'm going to continue to work the whole season."
Manager Ron Gardenhire said he's noticed a difference with Plouffe at the plate, especially since the club's recent road trip against the Rangers and Astros.
"He's confident right now," Gardenhire said. "He's seeing the ball well and he's also made some good plays defensively. So, he's been playing well for us and it started on the road."
Diamond rediscovers form in Triple-A stint
MINNNEAPOLIS -- When he was optioned to Triple-A Rochester in early August, southpaw Scott Diamond knew there was no guarantee he'd back up with the Twins this season.
A year after posting a 3.54 ERA in 27 starts as a rookie, Diamond had a 5.52 ERA in 20 starts before being optioned to Triple-A. But Diamond was able to right the ship at Rochester with a 2.02 ERA in six starts, including a strong outing in the International League playoffs.
It earned Diamond a callup on Monday, and he'll join the rotation on Thursday to start against the A's with the Twins employing a six-man rotation.
"It means a lot," Diamond said. "They obviously didn't have to do this. With the way I was pitching when I was up here, I didn't deserve it. I knew going down there that I had to perform and get back to the basics so, I'm thankful for the opportunity."
Diamond said his stuff was largely the same at Triple-A, but he was able to get ahead of hitters just like he did last year, when he showed promise as a rookie.
"I really don't think there was much of a difference," Diamond said. "The difference was, I was throwing strikes. I didn't care what type of strike it was as long as I get ahead. I feel like when I have that type of mentality my stuff is actually better. It's executed better and thrown with more conviction."
• Rookie catcher Josmil Pinto entered Tuesday night's series opener with 13 hits in 23 at-bats since being called up from Triple-A Rochester on Aug. 31, including five doubles and a homer. Kirby Puckett is the only player in Twins history with more hits than Pinto in the first seven games of a career, as Puckett had 16 hits in his first seven big league games in 1984.
Since 1980, only Jay Bruce had a higher batting average than Pinto in the first seven games in the Majors with a minimum of 20 at-bats, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Bruce hit .577 in his first seven games with the Reds.
• The Twins have fared well against the American League West this year, as they entered Tuesday's game against the A's with an 18-8 mark against AL West foes. They went 5-1 against both the Angels and Astros, and 4-3 against both the Mariners and Rangers.
• Outfielder Josh Willingham, who has been struggling recently, was moved down to the sixth spot in the lineup on Tuesday night. It marked the first time since 2009 that he started a game batting sixth or lower in a lineup. He's hitting just .203 on the year, and just .153 with two homers in 27 games since coming back from left knee surgery on Aug. 9.