MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- With the AL Central title locked up and the
starters resting, the Twins still had something to prove on the
field Wednesday night.
Rookie Michael Cuddyer hit a tiebreaking home run in the eighth
inning and Minnesota won its 11th straight game, beating the
Cleveland Indians 3-2 Wednesday night."You want to do well so Gardy (manager Ron Gardenhire) can have
the confidence to put you in during the playoffs," Cuddyer said.
"That home run felt pretty good."A day after clinching the division title, Minnesota won its
team-record 13th in a row at home. The Twins' next game at the
Metrodome will be Oct. 4 -- Game 3 in the first round of the
playoffs."You prepare yourselves now for the playoffs," said
Gardenhire, who sat every Twins regular except Matthew LeCroy. "We
played a lot of the kids that have been chomping at the bit, and I
thought they had fun out there."Overall, the Twins' winning string is their longest since a
15-game streak in 1991, the last year they won the World Series.
Minnesota's 45-20 record since All-Star break is tops in the
majors."Wow, that's pretty good," Gardenhire said. "That's playing
the game the right way."Lew Ford, one of 14 rookies who started in this game, homered
and hit an RBI triple for Minnesota. And, like Cuddyer, he looked
forward to this game as an opportunity."We had a great time here last night, but I just went back home
watched TV and went to sleep," Ford said, knowing that he would
probably start Wednesday. "I'll be ready in the playoffs if the
time comes."Ben Broussard homered for Cleveland, which has lost 16 of 21
games."We've had a stretch where the bats have been going good, but
not in the last week or so," manager Eric Wedge said.Jesse Orosco (1-0) got one out for his first AL victory since
July 19, 1998, for Baltimore. Eddie Guardado pitched the ninth for
his 41st save in 44 chances."I'm probably older than all of the guys combined out there
today," the 46-year-old Orosco said.With the score tied at 2 in the eighth, Cuddyer greeted reliever
Rafael Betancourt (2-2) with a solo shot to center field. The
423-foot homer, on a 3-2 pitch, was Cuddyer's third.Broussard hit a 409-foot drive off Kyle Lohse with one out in
the third inning for his 16th homer of the year.The Indians' 1-0 lead stood until Ford hit a solo homer off C.C.
Sabathia with one out in the sixth. It was Ford's third home run of
the year."It was a little hard tonight, I didn't know anything about the
people in their lineup," Sabathia said. "It was like spring
training."Minnesota took a 2-1 lead in the seventh when Denny Hocking hit
a two-out single and scored on Ford's triple.But, the Indians used a passed ball and wild pitch in the eighth
to tie it again. Jhonny Peralta walked to lead off the inning,
moved to second on Rob Bowen's passed ball and got to third on
Angel Santos' groundout.With Coco Crisp at the plate, reliever Rick Reed bounced a wild
pitch past Bowen, allowing Peralta to score. One out later Casey
Blake singled and stole second base, but was stranded there when
Dustan Mohr made a diving play in right field.Lohse, Minnesota's likely Game 3 starter in the division series,
allowed one run and four hits in six innings.Sabathia allowed two runs and seven hits in seven innings."C.C. was real good and commanded the ball well," Wedge said.
"I'm proud of the way he has battled all year for us."
The 18 starters in the game played in a combined 905 minor
league games this year. The only players who did not play in the
minors this year are Hocking, LeCroy and Mohr for the Twins and
Blake for the Indians. ... The Indians fell to 9-4 this season on
artificial turf. ... Minnesota won the season series over Cleveland
(10-9) for the second straight year, marking the first time that
has happened since 1988-89. ... A Twins starting pitcher failed to
record a victory for the first time in the last nine games. ... The
11-game winning streak is Minnesota's third longest in team
history. ... Minnesota improved to 144-7, over the last two years,
when leading after seven innings.