Just like that, things are starting to look up a little bit. Wins will do that. The Twins topped Cleveland 4-1 today behind some solid pitching and timely hitting, and leave Target Field with a 4-2 record in this home stretch.
Tommy Milone was just good enough, getting through five innings on 76 pitches. A double, ground out, and fly ball scored the Indians' first an only run in the second. The only other time he faced any adversity was after a one-out double and walk in the fifth. Milone did his job on a pitch count in his return to action, and getting through that fifth was critical.
The bullpen - bless that bullpen - did it's job again today. After a great job Saturday night, on Sunday afternoon the bullpen combined for four innings of scoreless baseball. Brian Duensing got through an inning and a third, Casey Fien finished off the seventh, and Kevin Jepsen worked around a couple of two-out hits in the eighth to end Cleveland's final threat on a big strikeout. Glen Perkins closed it in the ninth for his 31st save.
Minnesota's runs came in the second and eighth. Kurt Suzuki's two-out single with runners on second and third was the hit of the day, turning a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 advantage. From there both clubs traded zeroes until Trevor Plouffe's big insurance homer in the bottom of the eighth. Plouffe's 17th bomb didn't look impressive, but he was able to muscle it out and the ball carried. Eddie Rosario followed that up with a fly off the top of the wall in right-center, speeding into third for his ninth three-bagger of the year. Eduardo Nunez brought him home on a well-placed bunt. It was a well-executed squeeze, and that second insurance run of the inning took a lot of pressure off of Perkins for the top of the ninth.
The Twins squeeze back above .500, at 59-58, having done a nice job in six games at home. Now things get serious. Minnesota hits the road for ten games in 11 days, seeing the Yankees for three, Orioles for four, and Rays for three before returning home the weekend after next. Coming home with a 5-5 record has to be the goal, which means coming away with at least one series victory on the road. Anything better than that is just money in the bank.
As of this moment, the Twins are just 1.5 games back of that second Wild Card spot. If we thought that post All-Star break was a stretch, this will be just as telling.
Aw hell no