MINNEAPOLIS — Twins designated hitter Chris Colabello was leading the International League in RBI before his promotion to the big leagues earlier this week. On Saturday, he finally drove in his first run in the majors.
With runners on second and third and nobody out in the sixth inning, Colabello sent a base hit to right field that scored Justin Morneau from third to tie the game at 2-2. Colabello’s first career RBI proved to be a big one, as the Twins scored once more in the inning and held on to win 3-2.
“Anything you can do to help the team,” Colabello said. “Obviously I came up in a spot where I could do some damage. Probably not the way you draw it up, but I’m just glad I got it done.”
It was also just the third career hit for Colabello in nine big league games. The 29-year-old Colabello had 76 RBI in 85 games with Triple-A Rochester this season.
“He’s done very, very well in Triple A. There’s no secret about that,” said bench coach Terry Steinbach, who served as the acting manager with Ron Gardenhire sidelined due to illness. “There is that jump from Triple A to the big leagues. We just want these kids to come up and have success. If they can get the monkey off their back, get that big hit, I think it helps them relax a little bit and they can show us what talents they have.”
Colabello was able to get the ball back from his first big league RBI, a memento he said he’ll likely give to his mother. He said Friday that he had some nerves despite playing in seven games during an earlier call-up this season.
His RBI in the sixth inning helped alleviate some of those nerves.
“I don’t know that they’ll ever go away at this level,” Colabello said of the nerves. “I talked to some guys who say every day they go out in their career, they still have butterflies. But that’s a good thing. It makes you want to perform. It takes you to a different level sometimes. Definitely a little bit of weight off my shoulders, for sure. I’m just glad to help the team win a game.”
Indians’ miscues benefit Twins: In what turned out to be a bit of a pitcher’s duel, any little mistake was magnified. Luckily for the Twins, they took advantage of a few miscues by the Indians.
In the end, Minnesota capitalized when Cleveland faltered and it resulted in the Twins’ fourth win in a row.
Minnesota’s first run of the game came courtesy of Cleveland’s lone error of the night. Joe Mauer opened the bottom of the sixth inning with a walk and took third base on a single by Justin Morneau. Then with Ryan Doumit batting, Mauer scored on an error by Indians third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall.
As Doumit hit a grounder to third, Mauer took off running for home. Chisenhall’s throw would have easily beaten Mauer to the plate — but Chisenhall threw it past catcher Carlos Santana, allowing Mauer to score.
Later in the inning, Clete Thomas came to the plate with one out and runners on first and third. His grounder to second baseman Jason Kipnis appeared as if it might result in an inning-ending double play. But Kipnis bobbled the grounder and Cleveland was only able to get the out at second base, allowing Doumit to score the go-ahead run.
The Indians opened the door ever so slightly with those two miscues in the sixth inning, and it proved to be the difference in the Twins’ 3-2 win.
“We try to pride ourselves on defense. . . . What happened tonight, that benefitted us,” bench coach Terry Steinbach said. “There were a couple plays that inning that they didn’t make. Tipping our hat to our guys, we went out there and took advantage of that, got the guys in that we needed to score that inning and put ourselves ahead and gave our bullpen a chance to win the game.”
Gardenhire leaves with illness: Twins manager Ron Gardenhire wasn’t around to make a pitching change in the seventh inning. That’s because the skipper left the dugout around the fifth inning Saturday due to a stomach illness.
Steinbach was the acting manager in Gardenhire’s absence and made the trip to the mound in the seventh inning to replace Brian Duensing with Jared Burton.
“He just felt stomach issues during the game, so he went out in the fifth and the medical staff said he’s fine,” Steinbach said. “Nothing more than a stomach flu.”