CLEVELAND – Tyler Duffey’s fastball to Jose Ramirez in the sixth inning on Sunday was laced up the middle for a single, and the Twins righthander swiped the air while screaming at himself.
“I keep giving up two-out hits,” Duffey said. “You get two quick ones and [catcher Juan] Centeno comes out and says, ‘Hey, let’s get this one,’ and the first pitch out of the gate, right back up the middle.”
Duffey was so bad at it on Sunday he gave up five hits and walked a batter with two outs. Engaging and witty in the clubhouse, Duffey gets angry on the mound. But the rage somehow locks him into the moment. It happened again on Sunday.
Despite the lack of clean innings — or a changeup that worked — Duffey tossed seven shutout innings on Sunday to help the Twins knock off Cleveland 5-1 at Progressive Field to win their first road series of the season. The Twins won back-to-back games for first time since April 25-26 at home against Cleveland — which also was their last series win.
“It was nice to come back after a much-needed win [Saturday] and put together a good game,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said.
Duffey (1-2) gave up six hits, walked one and struck out six while dropping his ERA to 1.85. His fastball-curveball combination clicked on a day in which he could not get a feel for his changeup. His curveball didn’t work well in the first inning, either, which also led to Duffeyness.
“The animation on the mound,” Molitor said. “And you see the frustration. You hear it when he comes into the dugout between innings. And he’s really hard on himself.”
Duffey retired the side in order in only two of seven innings and got few swings and misses. Cleveland stranded nine runners and was 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position. Duffey ended his day by taking a little off a sinker to strike out Carlos Santana to end the seventh with a man on.
He was done after that. No more tearing himself down — until his next outing.
“I get pretty angry,” Duffey admitted. “I hold myself really accountable. I know I’m capable of doing certain things, and when I don’t do it it’s really, really frustrating. When you know you can hit a spot with a fastball and you don’t do it, it is really upsetting — to me.”
Molitor on Sunday wrote out what he admitted was an “oddball” lineup. Infielders Brian Dozier, who turned 29 on Sunday, and Trevor Plouffe were not in it. Neither was catcher Kurt Suzuki. Molitor proceeded to watch his inexperienced lineup produce.
Eddie Rosario’s two-out single to right in the second scored Byung Ho Park with the first run of the game. Centeno, who hit his first career homer on Saturday, drove a ball to the wall in center to score Rosario and make it 2-0.
Cleveland righthander Trevor Bauer (3-1) toughened up after that, retiring 14 of 15 Twins batters, six by strikeout. But Jorge Polanco socked a belt-high fastball over the center field wall in the seventh to give the Twins a 3-0 lead. For Polanco, who has received little playing time in three stints with club this season, it was his first major league home run.
After Jason Kipnis homered in the eighth for Cleveland’s only run, Rosario answered with a two-run double in the ninth to make it 5-1.
“We came out ready to roll and got another win,” Duffey said. “It will be a good flight to Detroit.’’