Kevin Slowey worked around two rallies and finished with what ended up being five strong innings. Cleveland landed a pair of hits in the second which led to a pair of runs, thanks to a one-out error from Alexi Casilla. He also ran into trouble in the fifth when back-to-back-to-back singles loaded the bases with just one away. But Slowey showed the determination and concentration the club needed, and came up with a number of big pitches to get out of it with a little help from his defense.
Leading 5-2 and the course of the game appearing to be on the line, Slowey struck out Shin-Soo Choo for out number two. He then battled through Travis Hafner, getting him to ground it up the middle. Orlando Hudson, sprinting to his right, made a great stop, turn and throw to get Pronk at first by a step and a half. It was the last, and really only, good chance the Indians had all afternoon, and Hudson's great stop and throw kept the game firmly in hand.
That was it for Slowey, but he had five good strikeouts and didn't walk a batter. At 88 pitches, under different circumstances I could have seen him being sent out for the sixth, but all things considered it wasn't necessary today. Slowey picked up eight outs in the air compared to just two on the ground, and balls-in-play tell a similar story: just five balls on the ground overall, 12 were either line drives, fly balls or a pop up.
Offensively, the Twins had a hot start off Mitch Talbot, who only lasted three batters before being lifted. Something wasn't right, and although the Indians gave Talbot an extra chance after a very early mound visit, Justin Masterson came on to relieve him after just 14 pitches. By that point Denard Span had walked, Orlando Hudson had singled and Joe Mauer had done the same, driving in Span and giving the Twins a 1-0 lead. Talbot's 14 pitches were enough to earn him the loss.
Jason Kubel flied out before Michael Cuddyer singled to load the bases. Jim Thome punched a routine ground ball to Luis Valbuena for what, very likely, would have been a double play, but as bad teams do Valbuena biffed it. He booted the ball to his left and all runners were safe, the Twins were up 2-0, and the doors were opened. A wild pitch, a Delmon Young sacrifice fly and a Danny Valencia grounder each scored a run, and by the time the dust lifted it was 5-0.
Another Cuddyer single would score Kubel in the sixth, giving us the final score. Casilla made a fantastic bare-handed throw to end the eighth, and both Jose Mijares and Brian Fuentes made successful returns to the pitchers mound. Glen Perkins, Jon Rauch, Mijares and Fuentes combined for four scoreless innings in relief.
With that we'll turn our attention to the White Sox. As of this writing they're tried with the Royals 6-6, but regardless of that outcome our boys are riding into Chicago to take care of business on Tuesday. They'll either carry a six or seven game lead come first pitch.
Kevin Slowey: .107 WPA
Michael Cuddyer: .075 WPA
Joe Mauer: .099 WPA
Jim Thome: .082 WPA