MINNESOTA 10, CLEVELAND 6 IN CLEVELAND
Date: Wednesday, April 14.
Batting stars: Henry Blanco was 4-for-4 with a home run (his third), two doubles, three runs, and three RBIs. Doug Mientkiewicz was 2-for-4 with a double. Nick Punto was 2-for-5. Corey Koskie was 1-for-5 with a home run, his second.
Pitching stars: Aaron Fultz pitched two perfect innings. J. C. Romero pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a walk and striking out one.
Opposition stars: Casey Blake was 2-for-4 with a walk and two runs. Matt Lawton was 2-for-5 with two RBIs. Omar Vizquel was 2-for-5. Victor Martinez was 1-for-4 with a home run, his second.
The game: The Indians got on the board first, scoring once in the second inning on singles by Blake, Travis Hafner, and Ben Broussard. The Twins came right back to take the lead in the third. Michael Ryan led off with a single and Blanco followed with a two-run homer. Cristian Guzman then tripled and scored on a sacrifice fly to give the Twins a 3-1 lead.
They added to the lead in the fifth. Blanco led off with a single. He was caught stealing (!), but an error allowed him to get to second anyway. Guzman then doubled him home and later scored on a fly out-plus-error, making the score 5-1.
Cleveland chipped away at the lead. In the bottom of the fifth Coco Crisp doubled and scored on Lawton's single. In the sixth Blake singled, Hafner walked, and a couple of productive outs brought home a run, cutting the margin to 5-3.
The Twins got one of the runs back in the seventh on doubles by Blanco and Shannon Stewart. They put the game out of reach in the eighth. Mientkiewicz doubled and Jose Offerman walked. RBI singles by Jacque Jones and Lew Ford followed, and a run-scoring double by Blanco gave the Twins a 9-3 advantage. Koskie homered in the ninth to make it 10-3.
It wasn't quite over, though. Martinez led off the ninth with a home run and Broussard walked. The next two batters went out, but RBI singles by Lawton and Omar Vizquel narrowed the Twins lead to 10-6 before Blake struck out to end the game.
WP: Carlos Silva (1-0). LP: Jeff D'Amico (1-1). S: Juan Rincon (1).
Notes: Punto was at second base in place of Luis Rivas. Stewart was in left, but injuries would limit him to just 71 games there--Ford actually played more in left, with 81 games. Ryan was in center field in place of Torii Hunter, who missed a few weeks in April. This was the year Joe Mauer missed most of the season, so Blanco was the regular catcher.
Offerman had the most games at DH, but the Twins really didn't have a regular DH. Offerman was there 39 times, Matthew LeCroy 30, Ford 26, Stewart 21, Justin Morneau 11, Hunter 10, Ryan 10, and 11 others had a single-digit number of games there.
Ford came in to play center field in the seventh inning, replacing Ryan.
This early in the season there are some extreme batting averages. Punto was batting .412--he would finish at .253. Mientkiewica was batting .317--he would finish at .246. Blanco was batting .364--he would finish at .206. Offerman was batting .333--he would finish at .256. Stewart was also batting .333--he would finish at .304.
On the other end, Koskie was batting .167--he would finish at .251. Ryan was batting .167--he would finish at .239.
This was Silva's second start of the season, and it was his first year as a starter. He pitched five innings, giving up three runs on seven hits and two walks and striking out one.
This was Joe Nathan's first year as the Twins' closer. He had pitched three scoreless innings coming into this game, but here he allowed three runs on three hits and two walks in two-third of an inning and was bailed out by Rincon. Nathan would not give up another run until June 6.
Cleveland had three runs advance due to defensive indifference in the ninth inning. I don't know if they keep records like that, but I would think that has to be fairly close to the record.
Record: The Twins were 4-4, tied for third place in the American League Central, 2 games behind Detroit. They would finish 92-70, in first place, 9 games ahead of Chicago.
The Indians were 3-6, in fifth (last)place in the American League Central, 3.5 games behind Detroit. They would finish 80-82, in third place, 12 games behind Minnesota.