CLEVELAND 4, MINNESOTA 3 IN CLEVELAND
Date: Friday, September 12.
Batting stars: Cristian Guzman was 2-for-3 with a double. Shannon Stewart was 2-for-5 with a double. Doug Mientkiewicz was 2-for-5. Torii Hunter was 1-for-2 with a two-run homer (his twenty-fourth) and two walks.
Pitching stars: Juan Rincon pitched 1.1 scoreless innings, giving up one hit and striking out one. J. C. Romero pitched a scoreless inning, giving up one hit and striking out one.
Opposition stars: C. C. Sabathia pitched 6.2 innings, giving up two runs on six hits and four walks and striking out six. Travis Hafner was 2-for-3. Alex Escobar was 2-for-4 with a stolen base. Coco Crisp was 2-for-4. Jhonny Peralta was 1-for-2 with a three-run homer (his fourth) and a hit-by-pitch.
The game: Stewart led off the game with a double, but never moved off second base. Well, he went to the outfield when the half-inning was over, but you know what I mean. The Indians put men on second and third with one out in the third, but did not score, so it remained scoreless through three.
The Twins started the scoring in the fourth when Matthew LeCroy walked and Hunter hit a two-run homer. It stayed 2-0 until the fifth, when Victor Martinez walked, Halfner singled, and Peralta hit a three-run homer to make it 3-2 Cleveland. It went to 4-2 in the sixth when Escobar singled, stole second, and scored on a Martinez single.
The Twins put two on with two out in the seventh but stranded them. In the ninth Michael Ryan led off with a pinch-hit single, went to second on a passed ball, and scored on Stewart's single. They tying run was on base with none out, but a double play and a fly out ended the game.
WP: Sabathia (13-8). LP: Kenny Rogers (11-8). S: David Riske (7).
Notes: Stewart was in left with Dustan Mohr in right and Jacque Jones on the bench. Lew Ford pinch-hit for Luis Rivas in the seventh, with Denny Hocking going to second base. Jones pinch-hit for Mohr in the eighth and stayed in the game in right field. Ryan pinch-hit for Cristian Guzman in the ninth.
Ryan was 1-for-1 and was batting .400. Ford walked in his plate appearance and was batting .333. Stewart was batting .313. Mientkiewicz was batting .306. A. J. Pierzynski was 0-for-4 and was batting .303. Jones was 0-for-1 and was batting .302.
Rogers pitched well other than the three-run homer, but his line was 5.2 innings, four runs, six hits, one walk, three strikeouts.
Jesse Orosco relieved Rogers in the sixth and threw one pitch. He hit Hafner with it and came out of the game. His ERA remained 7.47.
Danys Baez was the Cleveland closer most of the season, but he lost the job to Riske in mid-August.
This was Sabathia's third season. He made his first all-star team and had his first ERA under four. He would have better seasons, but he was a good pitcher at this point, and it's certainly no disgrace to lose to him. The trouble, of course, is that there were only about two weeks left in the season, and every game was important in the pennant race.
The White Sox and Royals both lost, so while the Twins missed a chance to gain ground they didn't lose any, either. And as important as the games are this late in the season, you still can't win them all.
Record: The Twins were 78-69, tied for first with Chicago in the American League Central. They were 3.5 games ahead of third-place Kansas City.