The Minnesota Twins lost 51 games away from Target Field this season. The last year a Twins team lost 50 games or more on the road? Ironically, it was 1987. . .the year the Twins won their first World Series.
The Twins certainly don't have to burden themselves by worrying about October baseball this season. However, they did manage to win their final road game of the 2011 season by defeating the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on Sunday afternoon by a score of 6-4 in ten innings.
Both teams put up two runs in the first inning of play, and the Indians took a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the third on Shelly Duncan's two-run home run off of Liam Hendriks. The Twins got a run in the top of the fifth on Ben Revere's RBI groundout to make the score 4-3, and Trevor Plouffe launched a solo home run in the top of the sixth off of Fausto Carmona to tie the game again at four.
In a nice gesture, former Twin Jim Thome played one pitch in the top of the ninth inning at third base for the Indians in what might be his final appearance at Progressive Field. He then went to the dugout to a standing ovation, and was replaced at third by Lonnie Chisenhall. However, later on in the ninth, what appeared to be a bad thing actually wound up working out for the Twins later on.
With two outs in the top of the ninth, Joe Benson singled to right field, and Ron Gardenhire sent Rene Tosoni to the plate to pinch-hit for Drew Butera. Third base coach Steve Liddle thought that Gardenhire had given him the signal to tell Benson to steal second, and that's what Benson did. . .unfortunately, he got thrown out at second for the third out of the inning. Tosoni then went to right field for Benson, with Rene Rivera coming in to catch. After the Indians were retired in the bottom of the ninth, Tosoni stepped to the plate again to lead off the top of the tenth.
Tosoni took a 1-1 offering from Cleveland reliever Tony Sipp and blasted it into the right field stands, giving the Twins a 5-4 lead and making Ron Gardenhire look pretty good. The Twins added an insurance run later in the inning on Chris Parmelee's RBI single, making it a 6-4 game, and Joe Nathan set the Indians down in the bottom of the tenth to give the Twins the victory.
The Twins will start the final series of the 2011 season on Monday night, as they return to Target Field to begin a three-game set against the Kansas City Royals. First pitch from Target Field is scheduled for 7:10 PM Central time, and the Twins will send right-hander Kevin Slowey (0-7, 6.54 ERA) to the mound to try to snap his seven-game losing streak. He will be opposed by Royals' right-hander Felipe Paulino (3-10, 4.46 ERA).