Twins 9, Indians 3
Struggling with his command and clinging to a one-run lead with
the bases loaded, Brian Duensing showed why he could be a
difference-maker come playoff time.
Duensing worked out of a sixth-inning jam for his 10th win,
backed by homers from Danny Valencia and Michael Cuddyer, and the
Minnesota Twins beat the Cleveland Indians 9-3 on Monday night.
When the second-place Chicago White Sox lost 3-0 at Oakland
later, Minnesota’s magic number fell to two for winning its second
consecutive AL Central title and sixth in nine years. The Twins can
clinch Tuesday night with another victory over Cleveland and a
White Sox loss to the Athletics.
Run-scoring singles by Andy Marte and Drew Sutton trimmed the
Twins’ lead to 4-3 in the sixth, but Minnesota manager Rod
Gardenhire let Duensing work out of the jam. He struck out Lou
Marson and got Michael Brantley to line out with the bases loaded
to preserve the lead.
”He was misfiring. He got some balls up, got some balls out and
over the plate. He’s a tough kid and he made some pitches when he
had to,” Gardenhire said. ”We just really wanted him to get out
and leave us with a lead. That’s important for him in that
situation. He did a really good job.”
Cuddyer’s two-run shot capped a four-run sixth and put the game
out of reach.
Duensing (10-2) has allowed three runs or fewer in 10 of 11
starts this season. The left-hander entered the rotation midseason
in both 2009 and 2010 and is 7-0 in 10 home starts.
After Valencia caught Brantley’s line drive to third to end the
sixth, Duensing yelled into his glove as he jogged back to the
”That was just a whole bunch of frustration coming out there,”
Duensing said. ”Tonight was definitely a grind. I felt really
good, but I think I was a little bit jumpy. After I got out of the
sixth, the offense was able to come out and put it away.”
Valencia has been one of the Twins’ best hitters lately. His
409-foot homer in the fourth inning reached the second deck at
Target Field and was the rookie’s third in four games.
”You’re seeing a guy develop right in front of your eyes, and
he’s doing it during a pennant race,” Gardenhire said.
The Twins couldn’t figure out Cleveland’s young pitchers during
the team’s last series, but had no problems with 22-year-old
Jeanmar Gomez on Monday. Gomez, who allowed eight runs and 10 hits
in 5 2-3 innings, is winless in his last six starts.
Most of the damage against Gomez (3-5) came with two outs.
”Younger guys tend to lose a little bit of focus and
concentration. When you have two outs, you’re three-quarters
there,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. ”You’ve got to zero in,
make that pitch and get out of there. It’s part of the learning
process for a kid like him.”
Delmon Young and Denard Span had two RBIs apiece for the Twins,
while J.J. Hardy had three hits and scored three times.
The extra offense was needed because the Twins played without
Joe Mauer, removed from Sunday’s game after tweaking his knee in
the sixth inning.
Gardenhire said the All-Star catcher was still sore and might
get an MRI on Tuesday.
Jason Kubel also missed his fourth game with a sore left
Marte drove an RBI triple off the center-field wall in the
second inning and finished with two hits and two RBIs. But the
Indians weren’t able to seize the lead when they had a chance in
”He’s a tough pitcher,” Brantley said. ”We were just trying
to get quality ABs and unfortunately we weren’t able to do that
with the bases loaded.”
Notes: Indians SS Asdrubal Cabrera left in the sixth inning with
a strained left wrist. X-rays were negative and Acta said he is day
to day. … The Twins are a major league-best 44-18 since the
All-Star break. … Gardenhire said Kubel could return to the
lineup Tuesday. … RHP Kevin Slowey will likely start next Tuesday
against Kansas City, then work out of the bullpen the rest of the
season. The Twins are trying to set their playoff rotation while
getting regular starters Francisco Liriano and Carl Pavano adequate
rest leading up to the postseason. … Indians OF Shin-Soo Choo was
selected AL player of the week. Choo hit .500 during the week and
homered and stole a base on Sunday to reach 20-20 for the second
straight season. … Brantley’s 19-game hitting streak was snapped.
… Twins 2B Orlando Hudson left in the eighth with a sore
shoulder, but Gardenhire said he should be fine.