Indians At Twins: Minnesota Defeats Cleveland To Split Four-Game Series

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Twins Salvage Split With Tribe Thanks To 7-5 Victory

Danny Valencia once again provided a big hit with the bases loaded, and Tsuyoshi Nishioka added the insurance as the Minnesota Twins defeated the Cleveland Indians at Target Field on Wednesday afternoon by a final tally of 7-5. The win gave Minnesota a split in their four-game series with the Indians, allowing them to climb back to five games out of first in the American League Central standings. . .exactly where they were when the series began.

Minnesota got on the board early, taking a quick 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning thanks to a Ben Revere single to left, a double by Alexi Casilla to score Revere, and a single by Joe Mauer that plated Casilla. The Indians couldn't manage any offense against Twins' starter Nick Blackburn right away, but they then took the lead with a three-spot in the top of the fourth. Back-to-back singles by Ezequiel Carrera and Asrdubal Cabrera and a walk to Travis Hafner loaded the bases for Cleveland with nobody out.

After Blackburn struck out Carlos Santana, Matt LaPorta lifted a fly ball to Revere in center. It looked like it would be deep enough to score one run for sure, but Revere wound up dropping the ball, resulting in a two-base error that allowed the Indians to tie the game at two. Orlando Cabrera then grounded out to second, bringing another run home and giving Cleveland a 3-2 lead.

The Twins didn't take long to strike back, however, as they took the lead back in the bottom of the fourth. Michael Cuddyer led the inning off with a single, and Jim Thome doubled to center to bring him home and tie the game at three. After Danny Valencia grounded out, Delmon Young singled to center to bring Thome home and give Minnesota back the lead, 4-3.

In the top of the sixth, Hafner got a one-out double, and moved to second base on a groundout by Santana. While facing LaPorta, Drew Butera allowed a passed ball, and though it looked like Blackburn got to the plate in time, Butera double-clutched the throw, allowing Hafner to score and tie the game once again.

That's how things stayed until the bottom of the eighth, when Casilla led off the inning with a ground-rule double to left, and Joe Mauer singled to put runners on the corners with nobody out. After Cuddyer struck out, Jim Thome drew a walk (and was pinch-run for by Luke Hughes) to load the bases. Up to the plate came Valencia once again, and just as he did on Tuesday night, he came through with a base hit, this one a single to center off of Orlando Cabrera's glove, bringing Casilla in to score and giving the Twins a 5-4 lead. After Delmon Young struck out for out number two, shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka singled to left, plating both Mauer and Hughes and giving the Twins a 7-4 cushion going into the ninth inning.

Joe Nathan came on to close out the ball game, coming in to relieve Matt Capps, who picked up a couple of big outs to close out the top of the eighth inning. The ninth was not without its drama, as Nathan allowed a one-out solo home run to Indians' third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall to cut the lead to 7-5, but Nathan then retired Austin Kearns and Luis Valbuena to end the ball game.

Capps was credited with the victory for Minnesota, lifting his record to 3-5 on the year. The save for Nathan was his sixth on the year. The loss went to Cleveland reliever Tony Sipp, dropping his record for the season to 4-2. Neither starter figured into the decision, with both Blackburn and Cleveland's Josh Tomlin allowing four runs in six innings of work and leaving with the game tied.

No rest for the Twins after this one, as they open up another four-game set at Target Field against the new American League Central leaders, the Detroit Tigers. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM Central time, and the pitching match-up should be a good one, as we will see the Tigers send right-hander Justin Verlander (12-5, 2.29 ERA) to the hill, while the Twins will go with right-hander Carl Pavano (6-6, 4.08 ERA).

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#ItsHappening: Valencia's Single Gives Twins Walk-Off Win, 2-1

On Tuesday night at Target Field, the Minnesota Twins were in danger of dropping their third consecutive game to the Cleveland Indians, a situation that would have seen them fall eight games back in the American League Central standings and put a screeching halt to the momentum that the Twins had managed since June 1.

Fortunately for the Twins, Danny Valencia wasn't having it.

With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, Valencia blooped a single into left field to score two runs and give the Twins a dramatic 2-1 come-from-behind victory over the Indians.

Both starting pitchers, Minnesota's Francisco Liriano and Cleveland's Justin Masterson, traded zeroes until the top of the fifth inning. Lou Marson led the inning off with a single to right field, and then Liriano hit Indians' left fielder Travis Buck in the helmet with a fastball. Buck was shaken a bit, but walked off the field under his own power. Luis Valbuena came in to run for Buck, and gave the Tribe runners on first and second with nobody out. Ezequiel Carrera then singled to right to load the bases. After Liriano induced an infield pop-up from Orlando Cabrera, Asdrubal Cabrera. . .no relation. . .lifted a fly ball to right deep enough to score Marson and give the Indians a 1-0 lead.

For a while, it looked as though the single run would hold up, as Masterson plowed through the Twins for 7.2 innings, throwing 104 pitches and allowing only four hits. Tony Sipp came in to register the final out of the bottom of the eighth inning, and after Glen Perkins set the Tribe down in order in the top of the ninth, Cleveland turned to closer Chris Perez to attempt to seal the deal.

Perez started the inning by getting Alexi Casilla to fly out to left field for out number one. That was the last out that Cleveland would register, as Perez followed that up with a walk to Joe Mauer. After that, Michael Cuddyer ripped a double to left field to put two Twins in scoring position with one out. The Indians then intentionally walked Jim Thome to load the bases and bring up Valencia. In his previous at-bat in the bottom of the seventh, Valencia missed out on an opportunity for an RBI when he came up with runners on first and second with one out and proceeded to ground into a double play.

He made the best of this opportunity, however, as he took a 2-1 offering from Perez. . .his former teammate at the University of Miami. . .and lofted it into left field for a single. Mauer scored the tying run, and Cuddyer came in with the game-winner right behind him as the Twins mobbed Valencia in celebration of their 2-1 victory.

Perkins got credit for the victory for his work in the top of the ninth, moving his record to 2-1 on the year. Perez, who blew just his second save in 24 opportunities, took the loss to drop his record to 2-5. Liriano did not figure into the decision, having allowed one run on four hits (while walking four) in six innings of work. The victory for the Twins leaves them six games in back of the Indians in the American League Central.

Final game of this four-game set between the Indians and the Twins will take place on Wednesday afternoon at Target Field, with the first pitch scheduled for 12:10 PM Central time. The Indians will turn to right-hander Josh Tomlin (11-4, 4.03 ERA), while the Twins will go with right-hander Nick Blackburn (7-6, 3.99 ERA).

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Twins Drop Nightcap To Indians, 6-3

Scott Diamond did as much as he could in his Major League debut for the Minnesota Twins, but could not overcome the lack of offense the team generated on Monday night, as the Cleveland Indians concluded a doubleheader sweep of the Twins with a 6-3 victory on Monday night. The Twins, who could have moved to within three games of the Indians when play started on Monday, now find themselves seven games back and needing a split in the final two games of the series just to get back to where they started.

Minnesota got on the board first in the bottom of the third inning, as Alexi Casilla doubled to right field with one out and came in to score on a Joe Mauer single. Diamond retired the Indians in order in three of his first four innings, but ran into trouble in the top of the fifth. Diamond got the first two outs of the inning in short order, but then allowed a double to Lou Marson and walked Ezequiel Carrera to put runners on first and second. Michael Brantley then singled to center to bring Marson in to tie the game at one, and Asdrubal Cabrera followed that up with a single to center of his own to give the Indians a 2-1 lead.

The Twins tied the game up in the bottom of the sixth, thanks to Danny Valencia's eleventh home run of the year, a solo blast that came with one out in the inning. Diamond came out to start the seventh inning, and Marson untied the game with a solo home run of his own, a 423-foot blast to center field that put the Indians back on top, 3-2. After an error by Valencia allowed Carrera to reach, Carrera stole second and was sacrificed to third by Brantley. After an intentional walk to Cabrera, Diamond was lifted for Phil Dumatrait. Travis Hafner greeted Dumatrait with a single to right-center to score Carrera and make the score 4-2, Cleveland.

Things stayed that way until the bottom of the ninth, when lefty Chuck James came in to pitch. He retired Carrera, and gave up a single to right to Brantley. After a balk by James allowed Brantley to move to second, James retired Cabrera on a comebacker to the mound for the second out. However, Hafner singled again to score Brantley and give the Indians a 5-2 lead. Carlos Santana then smoothly tripled to deep right field, scoring pinch-runner Luis Valbuena to put Cleveland ahead 6-2.

Trevor Plouffe tried to bring the Twins back in the bottom of the ninth with a solo home run off of Chris Perez, cutting the score to 6-3, but Perez retired the Twins to secure the victory, and the doubleheader sweep, for the Indians.

Fausto Carmona (5-10, 5.63 ERA) picked up the victory for the Indians in his first start since coming off of the disabled list. Diamond (0-1, 4.26 ERA) took the defeat in his first big league start.

The same two teams will get together on Tuesday night at Target Field, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:10 PM Central time. The Indians will hand the ball to right-hander Justin Masterson (8-6, 2.80 ERA), while the Twins will turn to lefty Francisco Liriano (6-7, 4.76 ERA) to try to help them bounce back.

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Twins Shut Down By Huff, Indians In Game 1 Of Doubleheader

David Huff went 2-11 with a 6.21 ERA last year for the Cleveland Indians. He had spent the entire 2011 season in AAA until being called up to start for the Indians on Monday afternoon. On paper, it looked like the Twins were poised for a big day at the plate.

On paper.

Huff shut out the Twins for seven innings in his 2011 MLB debut, allowing only five hits while striking out five. Minnesota was able to put runners in scoring position three innings in a row on Huff, but they couldn't take advantage of the opportunities, going 0-for-5 in those situations.

Twins starter Anthony Swarzak pitched well for the most part, but fell victim to the dreaded big inning in the third. After a throwing error by Alexi Casilla started the inning, the Indians rattled off three straight hits, capped off by a three-run bomb from Asdrubal Cabrera. Swarzak retired the next seven batters after that, but the damage was done as Cleveland carried a 4-0 lead all the way into the ninth.

Matt Capps came on in a non-save situation, and he again proved why Joe Nathan is Minnesota's closer for the foreseeable future. Capps allowed an Austin Kearns home run just two pitches into his latest performance to make it 5-0.

There were a couple bright spots for Minnesota in the matinee game aside from the sweltering sun and triple-digit heat index. Joe Mauer played first base again, and the results were again positive. Mauer had three of the seven Twins hits at the plate and made a couple of diving stops on the field to rob potential hits. After an abysmal start to 2011 riddled with injuries, Mauer's batting average sits at a respectable .276. Michael Cuddyer finally put the Twins on the board in the bottom of the 9th with a two-run homer, his 14th of the year.

The Twins will look for a split of the doubleheader later this evening at (a hopefully slightly cooler) Target Field. At this very moment, Cleveland is back atop the AL Central and has a 6 game lead over the Twins. By the end of the evening, that number will be 5 or 7.

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