Twins move within 3 games of Tigers with 3-0 winSep 19, 2009 - 7:43 AM By DAVE CAMPBELL AP Sports Writer
MINNEAPOLIS(AP) -- Might the Minnesota Twins be better off with Justin Morneau cheering on the bench?
It's probably a silly suggestion, but they've sure been playing well while he's out.
Michael Cuddyer's two-run homer and Brian Duensing's stellar start energized the Twins in a 3-0 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Friday night to move within three games of the AL Central lead.
The stress fracture in Morneau's lower back has ended his season, but the absence of the All-Star first baseman hasn't stopped this team. He was actually in a severe second-half slump. Since switching from right field to first base, Cuddyer is 9-for-20 with three homers and 10 RBIs.
And the Twins have won five straight games.
"When the season's over and we look back, we can really realize how big of a loss it is," Cuddyer said. "Right now we don't have time to really worry about that. We've just got to continue plugging away. Credit to him: He's down there being the biggest cheerleader he can be."
Duensing (4-1) left the mound to a rousing ovation after giving up two infield singles among just four hits and one walk over 6 1-3 innings, before yielding to the bullpen. Jose Mijares, Jon Rauch and Joe Nathan finished the shutout.
Showing his age, Duensing wasn't sure about protocol. Tip his cap to acknowledge the crowd, or just keep walking? That was the only sign of his rookie status, though. He pitched with the poise of a seasoned pro and is 4-0 with a 1.70 ERA in seven starts this year.
"He wasn't scared of any of those guys," Cuddyer said. "He went out there, pounded the strike zone. That was huge, and hopefully he can continue to be huge for us."
Rick Porcello (13-9) pitched well for the Tigers over six innings, but he made a couple of mistakes. Kubel, who is 7-for-8 this season against the 20-year-old right-hander, singled with one out in the fourth before Cuddyer's big hit.
This is the closest the Twins (75-72) have been to first place since Aug. 2. They're 6-1 at home this year against Detroit.
As the Tigers (78-69) have stumbled since Labor Day, failing to get their bats going and take advantage of the assorted problems bothering the Twins and Chicago White Sox, the AL Central has quietly emerged as the one division in baseball this season with an actual pennant race. These teams play twice more this weekend and four times in Detroit during the final week of the season, though, so it could be quite the finish.
"Fun baseball," Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge said. "We don't think about it. We take it one game at a time. We do well, the outcome will be where we want it to be."
The Twins believe the same.
"We're pitching well. We're getting hits when we need 'em, big hits when we need 'em, and we're not making mistakes," Cuddyer said. "That's what we've been accustomed to over the years, and that's what we're going to have to continue to do to continue to climb."
Red Sox 3, Orioles 1=
Clay Buchholz pitched six innings of five-hit ball, and visiting Boston beat Baltimore for teh sixth striaght time.
Jason Bay hit his team-high 34th home run for the Red Sox, who have won eight of nine and 14 of 19 to take command in the AL wild-card race. Victor Martinez had a single and a double to stretch his hitting streak to 17 games, tying a career high. Buchholz (6-3) improved to 5-0 with a 2.80 ERA in seven starts since Aug. 13.
Jeremy Guthrie (10-15) yielded three runs and nine hits in 5 2-3 innings, falling to 0-3 in four starts against Boston this season.
Mariners 3, Yankees 2=
At Seattle, Ichiro Suzuki hit a two-out, two-run homer off New York closer Mariano Rivera.
Pinch-hitter Mike Sweeney hit a two-out double to deep right-center field. Suzuki then jumped on the first pitch from Rivera (3-3) for his 10th homer of the season and second straight day with a game-winning hit.
It was Rivera's second blown save of the season.
Felix Hernandez (16-5) pitched a seven-hitter to pick up the win.
Athletics 2, Indians 1=
Brett Anderson pitched six shutout innings and had a career-high 10 strikeouts to help host Oakland win its fifth straight and 10th in the last 12.
Jeff Gray and Craig Breslow pitched one scoreless inning apiece and Brad Ziegler worked the ninth to complete the six-hitter and record his seventh save in 10 chances.
Nomar Garciaparra hit an RBI double off David Huff (10-8) in the third before Mark Ellis singled to make it 2-0.
Rays 11, Blue Jays 4=
James Shields won at home for the first time in more than three months, and eight straight hitters reached base for host Tampa Bay to start a six-run third inning.
Shields (10-11), 0-5 in his previous 10 starts at Tropicana Field, gave up four runs and nine hits in six innings. Evan Longoria hit his 31st homer of the season and had three RBIs for the AL champs, who won for just the third time in 16 games.
Scott Richmond (6-10) was pulled after allowing five consecutive hits to start the third.
Royals 11, White Sox 0=
Luke Hochevar pitched a three-hitter for his first career shutout and Miguel Olivo hit a pair of two-run shots and drove in a career-high six runs for visiting Kansas City.
Hochevar (7-10) allowed just three singles and struck out five, winning for the first time in his last eight decisions.
Mark Buehrle (12-9) allowed five runs on seven hits in six-plus innings.
Angels 2, Rangers 0=
Scott Kazmir pitched six scoreless innings to get his first victory for AL West-leading Los Angeles and Vladimir Guerrero homered to drop host Texas to a season-high 7 1/2 games back in the division.
Kazmir (9-8) lowered his ERA to 1.42 in four starts since being acquired Aug. 28 from Tampa Bay.
Texas, which has scored one run in its last 46 innings, was shut out for the fourth time in a five-game losing streak - the first time in team history.
Tommy Hunter (8-4) struck out five and walked four in his five innings.
- Twins 3, Tigers 0 - FINAL
DETROIT ab r h rbi bb so lob avg
R Raburn lf 4 0 0 0 0 0 1 .277
P Polanco 2b 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 .277
M Ordonez rf 4 0 0 0 0 1 2 .288
M Cabrera 1b 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 .330
M Thames dh 4 0 2 0 0 1 0 .254
B Inge 3b 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 .234
Sep 18 10:53 PM
AT MINNESOTA - SCORING UPDATE
DOUBLE BY DELMON YOUNG SCORED JASON KUBEL
SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, D YOUNG ON SECOND, 1 OUT
CURRENT SCORE: DETROIT 0
MINNESOTA 3 BOTTOM,6TH
DUE UP FOR MINNESOTA: J MORALES (.365, 1-FOR-2)
Tigers 0, Twins 3 Bot 6, 0 OutsSep 18 9:49 PM
AT MINNESOTA - SCORING UPDATE
TWO-RUN HOME RUN BY MICHAEL CUDDYER (27) TO LEFT CENTER WITH
1 OUT IN THE 4TH OFF RICK PORCELLO SCORED JASON KUBEL.
CURRENT SCORE: DETROIT 0, MINNESOTA 2
DUE UP FOR MINNESOTA: D YOUNG (.264, 1-FOR-1)
Tigers 0, Twins 2 Bot 4, 0 OutsSep 18 9:12 PM
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