There weren't many fans in the seats at Jacobs Field today. You could hear every heckle, every offer for a cold beer, and every time a hitter made contact it sounded like they were slugging the living snot out of the ball. Of course, as far as Brian Duensing was concerned, in the first inning the Indians actually were slugging the living snot out of the ball.
Michael Brantley got low to scoop a Duensing breaking ball and shoot it down the right field line, sliding into third with a leadoff triple. Two batters later Shin-Soo Choo singled him in, and two batters after that Matt LaPorta launched his second homer of the series on a massive shot into the left field seats. An error in the second led to the Indians plating their fourth run on a double play, leaving Minnesota in a 4-0 hole early.
For the Indians, David Huff continued to stymie the Twins in baffling fasion. Twins hitters rolled over time after time, and when they managed to put solid wood on the ball it either found a glove or couldn't be cashed in. But eventually Minnesota was able to convert Huff's weaknesses into runs, and when it rains it pours.
Michael Cuddyer coaxed a five pitch walk before big Jim Thome stepped into the box, and positively destroyed Huff's mediocre fastball. There was no doubt about this one. It was loud, it was high, and from contact might have been in the stands in right-center in around three seconds. From a game where it looked like the Twins would have to scratch and claw their way to any runs, Cleveland's lead had been cut in half about 120 seconds into the fifth.
Huff came back to strike out Danny Valencia, but J.J. Hardy struck a single and Jason Repko ripped a double down the left field line. Orlando Hudson, making his first appearance since July 23, came up huge by crushing a double that rolled to the wall. Hardy and Repko scored to tie the game, and Young would later plate Hudson on a groundout. That put the lid on a five-run inning, giving the Twins the lead.
More impressive than the five-run inning or Thome's impressive home run, was Duensing's ability to settle in after putting his team in an early deficit and keep the score from getting out of hand. He would strike down potential Cleveland rallies in the fourth and sixth, and he picked up 1-2-3 innings in the third, fifth and seventh. Duensing retired Choo on a groundout to start the eighth before being lifted, with Matt Guerrier picking up a pair of quick outs to finish the frame. Matt Capps pitched a perfect ninth with a pair of strikeouts for his 28th save of the season, his second as a member of the Twins.
- After hitting .434/.455/.736 in July, Delmon has hit just .189/.211/.270 since the calendar rolled to August. No doubt he'll remain in the cleanup role until Justin Morneau returns, and we all know it wasn't possible for him to maintain his torrid pace, but it's still a bummer to see all that hotness come to an end.
- Speaking of Morneau, he wants to start his rehab stint but the Twins are pulling him back a little bit. He's had a few good workouts and feels good, but the organization wants to be sure he can go through a full day of ballplayer stuff and still feel good before they send him out. But it's a good sign, and he should be back with the Twins within the next couple of weeks.
- Sure, the Twins scored five runs on just six hits. A home run helps with that run-scoring efficiency, but so does taking a walk. Minnesota took three walks today, one of which put a runner on base for big JIM JAM's TATER.
- J.J. Hardy is a pretty damn good shortstop. He bobbled one or two today, but the man has a strong arm and seems to get to balls that a guy with his speed shouldn't get to.
- Duensing did a great job of getting ahead tonight, particularly in 1-1 counts: 100% of 1-1 counts became 1-2 counts.
- Oddly enough he did just as well when he was behind (2-0, 2-1, 3-ball counts): 100% of those counts turned into an out.
- The Indians did hit Duensing hard over the course of the game, even if a lot of them were converted into outs. Well-hit average of at-bats was .267, with league average coming in at .203.
- Duensing went largely with the fastball against right-handed hitters: 54 of 71 pitches were fastballs against righties (76%) as opposed to just 15 of 33 (45%). It will be interesting to see if this becomes a pattern, or if it was just the plan for today.
Brian Duensing: 7.1 IP, 9 H, 3 K, 0 BB, 4 R, .104 WPA
Orlando Hudson: 1-for-3, 2B, 2 RBI, R, .167 WPA
Jim Thome: 2-for-3, HR, BB, 2 RBI, R, .141 WPA
Matt Capps: 1 IP, 2 K, .205 WPA
Jason Repko: 1-for-4, 2B, R, .102 WPA
Matt Guerrier: 0.2 IP, .080 WPA