Twins 2, Rockies 1
Scott Baker struck out a career-high 12 over seven shutout innings and the Minnesota Twins, despite hitting into three more double plays, held on to beat the Colorado Rockies 2-1 Wednesday night.
Baker (6-5) bounced back from a couple of substandard starts in a big way. He allowed only two singles and a walk, didn't let a runner past first base and retired 13 of his last 14 batters.
Jhoulys Chacin (3-6) was in trouble frequently, but double-play grounders by Michael Cuddyer, Danny Valencia and Justin Morneau finished the third, fourth and fifth innings. The Twins have grounded into a major league-leading 75 DPs.
The Rockies will send the incomparable Ubaldo Jimenez to the mound on Thursday afternoon to try to salvage a game from this series, with the Twins pitching their ace, Francisco Liriano.
Baker didn't let missed chances by his teammates faze him. Eleven of his strikeouts were swinging, and the Rockies didn't show much confidence about how to handle him.
Baker fanned Brad Hawpe on his 101st pitch and walked off the mound two outs later to an appreciative ovation from the announced crowd of 40,814, the largest at new Target Field.
Last week, Baker gave up five runs in five innings in a loss to Kansas City. He barely used the curveball on this night, relying mostly on his fastball and slider to make the Rockies miss.
Baker only made one bad throw, and it wasn't even a pitch. His pickoff attempt in the third inning appeared to hit Carlos Gonzalez on the back of the neck, and the young star stayed down at first base for a few seconds before getting cleared to stay in the game.
Jon Rauch pitched a perfect ninth for his 17th save in 19 tries after the Rockies got a run on Joe Mauer's passed ball with Gonzalez batting in the eighth. The cozy limestone backstop gives a big bounce and Mauer had a chance to pick the ball up and throw out Seth Smith, but he fumbled it twice and had no play.
But Jose Mijares got Gonzalez to pop out and then struck out Todd Helton, jumping off the mound with an exaggerated pump of his arm as he hurried to the dugout.
Valencia and Nick Punto hit back-to-back singles with the bases loaded and none out in the second to put the Twins up 2-0, but Delmon Young was out on a close play at the plate trying to get the third run when a strong throw from the center fielder Gonzalez came in a split-second ahead of him.
After throwing 15 1-3 straight scoreless innings following his promotion from the minors in late April, Chacin has had a hard time finding his rhythm. The right-hander allowed 11 baserunners over five innings and lost for the sixth time in the last seven starts.
NOTES: Baker's previous career strikeout high was 10, a year ago against Cleveland. ... Valencia got his first major league RBI and his first career extra-base hit with a double in the seventh. ... Twins 2B Orlando Hudson is doing better, having begun swinging left-handed in the batting cage to test his sore left wrist. Manager Ron Gardenhire said he could be ready on Friday.