MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Carlos Silva and Rondell White were two of
Minnesota's worst performers before the All-Star break. With a
better second half, the Twins will find it easier to stay in
Elias Says ...
Luis Castillo led off a game with a home run for only the second time in his career (the other was on Sept. 29, 2000). Among current players who have started at least 500 games at the top of the batting order, only Castillo (two), Juan Pierre (two) and David Eckstein (three) have fewer than five first-inning leadoff homers.
Silva threw six smooth innings, White hit his first home run of
the season in his first game back from the disabled list, and
Minnesota beat the Cleveland Indians 5-2 on Sunday."If it's not right now, it's never," said Silva, whose team is
11 games behind the Tigers in the AL Central standings and 6½ games
back of the White Sox in the wild-card race.Luis Castillo and Michael Cuddyer also homered and Jason Tyner
drove in two runs for the Twins, who won the last three of this
four-game series.Grady Sizemore's leadoff home run wasn't nearly enough for the
Indians, who were hoping to emerge from the break in far better
fashion. They turned four double plays behind rookie Jeremy Sowers,
but couldn't solve the struggling Silva. Cleveland was held to two
runs or less for the third straight game -- its first such streak
this season."It seemed like all series long we couldn't get any mojo at the
plate, any momentum," said Todd Hollandsworth, who went 0-for-4.Joe Nathan pitched the ninth for his 16th save for Minnesota,
which placed three outfielders on the disabled list over the past
four days. The biggest blow came during this game, when the team
learned standout center fielder Torii Hunter has a stress fracture
in his left foot.White, who signed for $2.5 million this season, never found his
stroke and has been bothered by tightness in his surgically
repaired left shoulder that sent him to the disabled list and on a
rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Rochester.Batting .190 with 16 RBI in 184 at-bats, White will be a
regular for at least the rest of the month while Hunter recovers.
Shannon Stewart and Lew Ford are also out, and Jason Kubel is
playing through soreness in both of his knees.The sight of White driving his first homer into the left-field
seats leading off the seventh was an encouraging one for the Twins.
For White, though, the emphasis will be on staying relaxed and
avoiding pressure to replace Hunter's production."Ever since I've been up here I was trying to do too much," he
said. "That was the problem before I left, trying to hit the ball
600 feet. When you don't try to hit it is when you hit home runs."After two solid seasons as a stabilizer in the middle of the
rotation, Silva (5-9) had an awful first half. Three consecutive
strong starts in late June were followed by two rough outings in
July, and he left in the second inning of the last one with
soreness in his right knee. Silva, who had surgery to repair a torn
meniscus in the knee last September, was checked out by two doctors
over the break.He began the second half with a big boost for his beat-up team.
He held Cleveland to five hits and two runs while striking out four
without a walk, throwing changeups 25 times out of 89."That's more than I threw all last season," he said.All Silva gave up was Sizemore's 16th homer, an upper-deck shot,
and a two-out RBI single by Casey Blake in the third inning."I didn't even think about my knee today," Silva said. "I
just took the ball and tried to do my job."Sowers (1-3) gave up 11 hits and five runs without a walk in
seven innings while striking out one in his fourth career start.
Despite the three homers, including Castillo's to begin the bottom
of the first, the Indians were pleased."He definitely gave us a chance to win the ballgame," manager
Eric Wedge said. "For a young guy, he's able to control damage.
Every time he goes out there, he leaves something."Joe Mauer, the leading hitter in the majors, grounded into two
of the Twins' double plays. One wiped out a leadoff single by Nick
Punto in the fourth. But Cuddyer came next with his home run, and
then Justin Morneau singled. White hit a shallow fly to left that
Hollandsworth lost in the Metrodome's tricky, graying ceiling for a
fluke double.Tyner, who has five RBI and six hits in 12 at-bats since being
called up this weekend, smacked a single to left that scored two
and gave Minnesota a 4-2 lead -- making the miscue hurt even more."I never saw the ball until it hit the turf," Hollandsworth
said, summing up a disappointing series for his team that's stuck
in fourth place in this division -- 20½ games out.
Cuddyer's homer, his 12th, was his first in a span of 81
at-bats. ... Travis Hafner extended his career-long hitting streak
to 11 games for Cleveland with a single in the eighth. ... The
Indians fell to 5-25 when scoring three runs or less. ... The Twins
are 12-21 against their division.