MINNEAPOLIS (The Sports Xchange) – The Colorado Rockies aren’t too familiar with Target Field, the home ballpark of the Minnesota Twins. Tuesday marked just the second time since the park opened in 2010 that the Rockies paid a visit.
These days, though, it doesn’t seem to matter which road venue Colorado plays in. The Rockies keep winning in enemy territory.
A big sixth inning helped the Rockies beat the Minnesota Twins 7-3 on Tuesday in the opening game of a series between two first-place teams. The Rockies are now an impressive 12-5 on the road.
“When we’ve gotten together, and this goes back to spring training, we’ve just talked about how we play,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “We don’t worry about the opposition. We don’t worry about where we play. We worry about playing good baseball.”
With the game knotted at 3-3, Colorado scored four times in the sixth off Twins starter Phil Hughes and reliever Tyler Duffey. Charlie Blackmon delivered the biggest blow of the inning, as his two-run homer gave the Rockies a four-run advantage.
Prior to Blackmon’s ninth homer of the year, Colorado broke open a tie game when Carlos Gonzalez hit a leadoff double against Hughes and scored one batter later on Ian Desmond’s base hit.
“That sixth inning was kind of key after not being able to score and me going out and giving up the first two guys on base and obviously the runs come around,” Hughes said. “I felt like that was kind of the turning point.”
Later in the sixth, Pat Valaika scored when Twins right fielder Robbie Grossman couldn’t handle a double by Tony Wolters. That made it a 5-3 Rockies lead and set up Blackmon’s homer in the next at-bat of the inning.
Blackmon finished the game with three hits and three RBIs to pace the Rockies (25-15).
The run support was more than enough for Colorado left-hander Kyle Freeland, who earned his fourth victory in just his eighth big league start. Freeland (4-2) allowed three runs on five hits in six innings while striking out three, but he did issue four walks.
“It was a struggle, for sure. Definitely didn’t have my stuff tonight,” Freeland said. “But I was able to fight through it and get outs when I needed to.”
Hughes (4-2) is now winless in his last three starts after winning four of his first five games. He yielded five runs on eight hits in five-plus innings.
Colorado opened the scoring against Hughes in the second. An RBI groundout by Wolters and a bloop single down the left field line by Blackmon quickly put the Rockies up 2-0.
Minnesota didn’t take long to even the score. Jorge Polanco drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a balk by Freeland.
Polanco came around to score on a double by Jason Castro, his first RBI since May 2. Castro later scored on Brian Dozier’s double.
The teams traded solo homers in the fourth. Gerardo Parra’s sky-high drive to right was far enough to put Colorado up 3-2.
Twins center fielder Byron Buxton tied the game — and kept an impressive streak alive — with a solo homer in the fourth. Buxton’s blast to center field marked the 16th straight game a Twins player homered, tying the team record set in 1979.
That home run was also only the second allowed by Freeland in eight starts and the first since his second start of the year — a span of 36 innings without a homer.
NOTES: Rockies C Tony Wolters was reinstated from the 10-day disabled list prior to the game. Wolters, who was sidelined with a concussion, hadn’t played since May 2. He batted ninth on Tuesday and went 1-for-4 with a double and an RBI. … Colorado C Dustin Garneau was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque on Tuesday to make room on the 25-man roster for Wolters. In 22 games this season with the Rockies, Garneau batted .206 with one home run and six RBIs. … Twins manager Paul Molitor said he has an idea of who his starting pitcher will be Saturday, but he wouldn’t make a final decision just yet. LHP Adalberto Mejia, a possible candidate for that spot, started Tuesday for Triple-A Rochester but was removed from the game after just three innings and 33 pitches.