The Minnesota Twins are still in contention for the American League Central Division Title, thanks in part to the resurgence of Scott Baker. At just five games back of Detroit, Baker has provided some great relief (as a starter) since returning from the disabled list.
In his last seven starts, Baker has recorded a 4-0 record, going at least five innings in all but one start, and allowing two runs or less in each start, save for a rough outing August 9th against the Tigers in which Baker only went 4 1/3 innings, giving up six runs, including two home runs. Against a weak Indians line-up, all Baker did was muster up a complete game two-hitter in an 11-0 Minnesota rout of Cleveland.
Justin Masterson (3-4) started for Cleveland and was quickly shown the door as he gave up seven runs (six earned) in 3 1/3 innings. He also walked five, while only striking out three. Jess Todd and Tomo Ohka combined for 3 2/3 innings of work, allowing two earned runs a piece off of six hits. Kerry Wood pitched a scoreless final inning for the Tribe…which effectively meant nothing.
The damage was done early…and often I suppose…from the Twin bats as Jason Kubel and Justin Morneau combined to single in three runs in the third inning. During Masterson’s undoing in the 4th (and the entrance off Todd), the light hitting Alexi Casilla revved up the Minnesota offense with a run scoring single. Joe Mauer, Kubel, and Michael Cuddyer sprayed singles all over the turf outfield bringing in five more runs.
Jason Kubel, the undoubted played of the game for the Twins, hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the 6th to slam the door on the Tribe. Kubel finished 3-4 with a home run and five RBIs.
On the contrary, the Indians offense seems to have hit rock bottom. With a line-up stashed with Class AAA hitters, the Indians have one run in their last 32 innings. Obviously, they have been shut out two times in their last three games.
Most of this debacle could be chalked up to injuries and trades, as Cleveland’s most potent bat, Victor Martinez, is currently lifting the Red Sox hopes for a wild card berth…yuck!
Minnesota is currently 56-59 and five games out of division-leading Detroit. The Indians have dropped to 49-66…remarkably only 12 games out because the division is well…bad!
Twins’ rookie Anthony Swarzak (3-5, 5.44 ERA) takes the hill today in Minneapolis while hoping to avoid a third straight loss. David Huff (6-6, 6.72) will try to stabilize an up-and-down season, and try to give Tribe management a reason to make him a starter next season.