MINNESOTA 4, CLEVELAND 1 IN MINNESOTA
Date: Tuesday, September 23.
Batting stars: Cristian Guzman was 2-for-3 with a home run (his third), a walk, and two runs. Corey Koskie was 1-for-2 with a walk.
Pitching star: Kenny Rogers pitched 8.2 innings, giving up one run on eight hits and no walks and striking out two.
Opposition stars: Alex Escobar was 2-for-3 with a hit-by-pitch. Josh Bard was 2-for-4.
The game: The Indians had men on first and third with one out in the second but did not score. The Twins had men on first and second with two out in the second but did not score. In the third, however, Guzman singled and Shannon Stewart and Luis Rivas had back-to-back doubles to get the Twins on the board with a 2-0 lead.
Cleveland got back-to-back hit-by-pitches to start the fourth but did not score. In the bottom of the fourth the Twins added a run without a hit. Koskie walked, A. J. Pierzynski reached on an error, Guzman walked, and Stewart hit a sacrifice fly.
The Indians had a man on second with one out in the fifth and men on first and second with none out in the seventh, but did not score. Guzman homered leading off the bottom of the seventh to make it 4-0. Cleveland rallied in the ninth, getting singles from Jody Gerut, Escobar, and Josh Bard to make it 4-1 and bring the tying run to the plate. But Eddie Guardado came in to strike out Greg LaRocca to end the game.
WP: Rogers (13-8). LP: Jake Westbrook (7-10). S: Guardado (40).
Notes: Stewart was in left and Jacque Jones in right. The Twins made no in-game lineup substitutions.
Pierzynski was 0-for-3 and was batting .309. Stewart was 1-for-3 and was batting .308. Jones was 0-for-4 and was batting .303. Doug Mientkiewicz was 0-for-3 and was batting .300.
Rogers threw 102 pitches.
Guardado lowered his ERA to 2.84.
Westbrook pitched seven innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on six hits and three walks and striking out two.
The strikeout to end the game was Greg LaRocca's last major league at-bat. He played in a handful of games in three separate seasons. An infielder, he batted .261/.337/.352 in 100 plate appearances (39 games). After this season he went to Japan, where he had several successful seasons.
It was the Twins' tenth consecutive win. Chicago and Kansas City had both won yesterday, when the Twins were off, but they both lost today, so the Twins clinched the division.
Record: The Twins were 88-69, in first place in the American League Central, six games ahead of Chicago and Kansas City.