CLEVELAND (AP) -- No amount of adversity seems to discourage the Twins.
One day after Minnesota lost rookie sensation Francisco Liriano
for the season, Torii Hunter and Rondell White homered on
consecutive pitches in the eighth inning Thursday night to help the
surging Twins pull within one game of first place with a 9-4 win
over the Cleveland Indians.
"We could have hung our heads, but we kept on truckin' and
won," Hunter said after driving in four runs to help the Twins to
their sixth victory in seven games.
Minnesota moved two games ahead of the Chicago White Sox in the
wild-card race and one game behind the faltering Detroit Tigers in
the AL Central. The last time Minnesota was only one game back was
the second day of the season, April 5.
"We got a little good news that it was nothing major with
Liriano and that probably lifted us a bit," manager Ron Gardenhire
said. "The guys were fired up."
General manager Terry Ryan said an MRI showed no structural
damage to Liriano's left elbow, but added the Twins will be
ultraconservative with the rookie, who went 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA.
"We have to find out why he's having pain," Ryan said. "We're
not going to mess around with his future."
"After spending four months trying to get back into this thing
we weren't going to let one inning kill us," right fielder Michael
Cuddyer said. "We knew we had a few innings to work our way back,
and we did."
Despite going only 3-for-19 with runners in scoring position and
stranding a season-high 16 against nine Cleveland pitchers, the
Twins improved to 36-36 on the road. Minnesota, with baseball's
best home record at 50-24, plays its next nine games on the road.
"We left guys on base, so what?" Hunter said. "We won. That's
Hunter and White each had three of Minnesota's 15 hits. Both
spent time on the disabled list earlier this season for the Twins,
who also have been without leadoff hitter and left fielder Shannon
Stewart since mid-July.
"We won't worry about what we can't control," Gardenhire said.
"We're playing good baseball, we're relaxed and having fun.
Baseball is supposed to be fun."
Hunter hit a two-run homer, his 25th, and White hit the next
pitch from Fernando Cabrera to nearly the same spot in the
left-field bleachers for his seventh homer and an 8-4 lead.
Cuddyer had a bases-loaded walk for his 100th RBI and Justin
Morneau followed with a fielder's choice RBI in the sixth to put
the Twins up 4-1.
Cuddyer and Morneau, who has 121 RBI, are the ninth set of
Twins in team history to drive in 100 or more runs in the same
season and first since Paul Molitor and Marty Cordova did it in
Minnesota made it 2-1 in the fifth against reliever Brian
Sikorski. Morneau singled and scored on a one-out double to left by
White, who went 3-for-5.
The Twins tied it in the third against Indians starter Cliff
Lee. Morneau hit a two-out double and scored on Hunter's sharp
Lee threw 102 pitches in only four innings, allowing one run and
"I was making quality pitches, but they kept fouling them off
and the pitches added up," Lee said.
Bonser gave up three runs and five hits over 5 2-3 innings,
striking out six.
Hunter added an RBI double in the ninth.
Twins C Joe Mauer drew his 20th intentional walk, tying
Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew (1969) for second-most in team
history. Killebrew had 23 in 1970. ... Marte has hit .313
(25-for-80) with 16 RBI in his last 23 games. ... White has batted
.310 with seven homers and 18 RBI in his past 32 games.