Let's imagine for a moment that there is a way to perfectly measure clutch hitting. Let's also give this imaginary statistic a name. We'll call it Clutchiness, which to be consistent with traditional statistics will fall on a continuum between 0 and 1 and be measured to the third decimal place. Monday night at Target Field, the Twins posted an (estimated) .845 Clutchiness, scoring all nine of their runs with two-out hits and beating the Indians 9-3 at Target Field.
Minnesota was 9-17 and walked four times with two outs. Danny Valencia blasted a solo home run into the second deck in left field, with two outs. Michael Cuddyer golfed a low fastball over the fence in left to drive in a pair - with two outs. Delmon Young doubled in a run, Denard Span tripled in a run, and this all happened with two outs, raising that Clutchiness right up into the stratosphere.
It's certainly not as if the Indians had no chances in this one, though. With Young's double having given the Twins a 1-0 lead in the second, Cleveland's Andy Marte had his own two-out success, whacking a Brian Duensing pitch off of the 411 sign in center field for an RBI triple to tie the game. In the third, Shelley Duncan nearly matched Marte; with two runners on (and yes, two out), Duncan hit a towering drive to left center that died in Span's glove a foot in front of the bullpen fence. It was very nearly 4-1 early for the Indians.
After the Twins had built their own 4-1 lead, Cleveland put together three singles, a double, and a walk in the sixth to close the gap to 4-3. However, Duensing struck out Lou Merson and got Michael Brantley to line out to third base to end the threat. The Twins lefty allowed three runs and six hits, but hurt himself by walking four. (Walks will haunt, Mr. Duensing!)
After the Twins extinguished the rally, though, they came back with four runs of their own in the bottom of the inning, which included Span's triple and Cuddyer's homer. After that, the game was never in doubt again.
Studs: Valencia and Cuddyer for going deep, of course. J.J. Hardy had three singles, and was the only Twin to collect three hits. Span and Young drove in two apiece.
Duds: I wouldn't really call him a dud, but Duensing probably won't be happy with himself after walking four. And I guess Jose Morales struck out twice, but we're probably grasping at straws.
Michael Brantley was 0-5 for Cleveland, ending his hitting streak at 19 games... The win dropped Minnesota's magic number to 3. Chicago, in Oakland and playing a late game, was tied 0-0 with the Athletics at the time of this story.