A day after the Texas Rangers lit up the Minnesota Twins for a seven-run inning, the Twins returned the favor, plating five runs in the first and not allowing Rangers' starter Colby Lewis to escape the second inning in an 8-1 thumping of the Rangers on Saturday afternoon at Target Field.
Despite once again fielding a lineup that did not include Denard Span, Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer, Jason Kubel, or Jim Thome, the Twins battered Lewis around, touching him up for six runs on seven hits in just 1.1 innings of work. Ben Revere and Alexi Casilla led off the inning for the Twins with consecutive singles, with Revere advancing to third on Casilla's hit and coming in to score on Michael Cuddyer's sacrifice fly. A Delmon Young single to left allowed Casilla to advance to third, and Casilla came in to score after Lewis uncorked a wild pitch, making the score 2-0.
After Rene Tosoni and Danny Valencia drew consecutive walks to load the bases, Brian Dinkelman came through with a base hit to right center to score both Young and Tosoni, giving the Twins a quick 4-0 lead. After Rene Rivera flew out, Matt Tolbert came through with a two-out single to score Valencia and give the Twins a 5-0 lead. Revere, the tenth man to the plate in the inning, then grounded out to end things for the Twins.
The Twins added another run in the second after Casilla doubled to lead off the inning, and stole third after Michael Cuddyer struck out. Delmon Young then singled to center to score Casilla, and increase the Twins' lead to 6-0. That was all for Lewis, as Rangers' manager Ron Washington called Dave Bush on to relieve his starter.
Minnesota was at it again in the bottom of the fourth, when Revere led off the inning with a single and proceeded to steal second. Casilla then laced a single to right to score Revere and make the Minnesota lead 7-0. The Twins' final run came in the bottom of the seventh, when Cuddyer started the inning with a double off of Bush, ending his afternoon. Delmon Young then stepped in and greeted new pitcher Yoshinori Tateyama with a double to score Cuddyer, padding the Twins' lead to 8-0.
The Rangers lone run came in the top of the eighth, when Mike Napoli singled to center with two outs, and advanced to second on fielder's indifference. David Murphy then singled to right, scoring Napoli and breaking up the shutout for Baker as the score changed to 8-1.
The offensive explosion by the Twins was not enough to overshadow the brilliant start put together by Scott Baker, who earned his first complete game victory since August of 2009 with his performance. Baker scattered just five hits on the afternoon and allowed the single run while striking out seven and not walking anybody. The win for Baker gives him consecutive victories for the first time since August of 2010. More importantly, with the Indians' loss today, the Twins have cut their deficit in the American League Central to ten games.
The loss for Lewis dropped his record on the season to 5-7.
The Twins have already assured themselves of at least a split in this four-game series, and will go for the outright victory. . .which would be their third in a row. . .on Sunday afternoon at Target Field, with the first pitch scheduled for 1:10 PM Central time. Mercurial left-hander Francisco Liriano (3-6, 5.20 ERA) will take the mound for the Twins, and he will be opposed by Rangers' left-hander Matt Harrison (5-4, 3.26 ERA).