Scott Baker pitched seven shutout innings, and a dramatic three-run double by Michael Cuddyer in the fifth inning pushed the Twins to a 4-0 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday night at Target Field.
Danny Valencia led off the fifth with a solo home run off of Angels starter Jered Weaver, a shot to left-center that landed in the second deck and was estimated at 426 feet. The real drama, though, came with two out in the same inning. After Orlando Hudson's high fly ball off of the right-center fence had landed the second sacker on third, Weaver issued "unintentional intentional walks" to both Joe Mauer and Jason Kubel to load the bases. Cuddyer had struggled against Weaver in the past, with just two hits in seventeen prior at-bats.
Weaver worked ahead in the count, getting Cuddyer to foul off a pair of fastballs that were up in the strike zone, but the Twins first baseman went into full battle mode, eventually fouling off five straight two-strike pitches. Finally, Weaver left a cutter over the plate, and Cuddyer hammered the pitch into the left-center gap, a double that cleared the bases and gave Scott Baker all the room he'd need for his eleventh win of the year.
In seven innings, no Angel reached third base against Baker, who allowed five hits and a pair of walks while striking out four. Hideki Matsui led off the second inning with a double down the first-base line, but apart from that well-placed hit, Baker didn't allow another extra-base knock.
In the eighth, Jesse Crain made things interesting by allowing a single to Alberto Callaspo and a walk to Torii Hunter with two out, but Crain's steady diet of high-and-tight sliders to Matsui finally induced the Angel DH to swing through strike three for the third out.
22-year-old righthanded flamethrower Jordan Walden made his major-league debut in the eighth inning for Los Angeles. After walking Mauer and allowing a seeing-eye single to Kubel, Walden struck out Cuddyer and Jim Thome, then forced a bouncer from Delmon Young to blaze through his first appearance in the bigs. Congrats to the youngster and well done. (And on behalf of Twins fans: we hope we never see that again from him.)
The Twins took the series with the win, their ninth consecutive series win or tie. Minnesota hasn't lost a series since dropping two of three to Cleveland, July 19-21. The Twins also took the season series against the Angels for the first time since 2002.