(Sports Network) – More than half of Jim Thome’s 587 career home runs came in an Indians uniform, but the current Twins slugger gave his old team a blast from the past on Saturday night.
Thome will try to homer in a fifth straight game and slug Minnesota to a series win over Cleveland today in the finale of a three-game series at Progressive Field.
Playing for the first time in three games because of a mild abdominal strain, Thome launched a blast to deep center for his 23rd homer of the season, breaking a scoreless game in the 12th inning and giving the Twins a 1-0 victory.
Thome’s homer, which moved him past Frank Robinson for eighth on the all-time list, represents all of Minnesota’s offense so far in this series after it was blanked, 2-0, in Friday’s opener.
“Any time you can hit a home run and help your team win, it means a lot, especially this time of year,” said Thome, who spent his first 12 years in Cleveland from 1991-2002 and hit 334 homers in that time.
The American League Central-leading Twins picked up their seventh win in eight games and 12th in 15 contests to move six games up on the White Sox for first place after Chicago lost to Kansas City on Saturday.
Both starters finished with similar lines as Minnesota’s Nick Blackburn gave up five hits and two walks in eight innings, while Carlos Carrasco yielded five hits and three walks in 7 1/3 frames for Cleveland.
“Another well pitched ball game. I’m happy with the way we’ve been throwing the ball,” Cleveland manager Manny Acta said after his club lost for the second time in three games.
Given today’s starters, another pitching duel doesn’t seem likely.
With a nine-start and five-decision losing streak now behind him, Cleveland’s Mitch Talbot aims for his first home victory since May 25 this afternoon.
Picking up his first victory since June 27 last Saturday, Talbot held the Mariners to just one unearned run on five hits and a walk over 6 2/3 innings, striking out six while improving to 9-11 with a 4.40 earned run average this year.
“It was nice to see Talbot come back and have a good outing,” Acta said. “He’s been struggling a little bit since he came back from the DL. Tonight, he was very good, threw a lot of first pitch strikes, had that good changeup and a good cutter and gave us seven solid innings.”
The outing was similar to the one the 26-year-old righty posted when he faced the Twins for the first time in his career back on April 22. In that road victory, Talbot held Minnesota to just an unearned run on two hits and three walks over six innings.
Talbot is 3-7 with a 6.03 ERA in 14 starts at home in 2010.
Kevin Slowey will make his second start for the Twins since a disabled-list stint caused by a strained right triceps muscle.
Pitching for the first time since Aug. 21, the 26-year-old lasted four innings on Monday versus the Royals, allowing two runs and seven hits in a no- decision. He remained at 11-6 on the season with a 4.39 ERA.
The right-handed Slowey has good career numbers versus the Indians, going 5-2 with a 3.83 ERA in nine starts. That includes a 2-0 mark and 3.38 ERA in three outings this year.
Minnesota has won eight of 14 games against the Indians this season, including five of the eight bouts held in Cleveland.