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Carl Pavano struck out five en route to a complete-game victory Wednesday against the White Sox.

Renee Jones Schneider, Star Tribune

TWINS 4, WHITE SOX 1

Up next: 12:10 p.m. today vs. White Sox Target Field • TV: FSN (1500ESPN)

Casilla's bat, glove help Pavano throttle Sox

  • Article by: LA VELLE E. NEAL III
  • Star Tribune
  • June 16, 2011 - 10:11 AM

Alexi Casilla and Tsuyoshi Nishioka, the Twins’ Opening Day middle infield, will be reunited Thursday when Nishioka makes his first start since breaking his left fibula on April 7.

But they won’t be playing the positions at which they started the season — and might not bat in the same spot in the order.

The reason for the latter was on display Wednesday during the Twins’ 4-1 victory, which featured a complete game performance from starter Carl Pavano against the Chicago White Sox.

Casilla, who has surged since a horrendous start to the season, was 2-for-4 with a double and added a stolen base. He will move from shortstop to second base Thursday when Nishioka returns to the lineup.

That raises the question of who will bat in front of catcher Joe Mauer, who is expected to be activated from the disabled list Friday.

"As far as the batting order will go, I’ve talked with Nishi about that, all right," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said, "and I’ll make that decision overnight so you guys will have something to write about tomorrow."

Casilla is making a case to stay near the top of the order. After batting .167 in April, Casilla batted .289 in May and is batting .358 this month.

Since May 15, Casilla is batting .343 with seven doubles, a triple, 10 RBI, seven stolen bases and 16 runs scored over his past 28 games. He’s been part of the surge that’s helped the Twins win 10 of their past 12 games.

"He’s swinging the bat,’’ Gardenhire said. "He’s not trying to baby the ball through the infield. He’s standing up there and taking his rips.

"Ever since he started doing that, the ball has found holes.’’

The Twins jumped to a 3-0 lead in the third inning when Casilla drove in Ben Revere with a double. Michael Cuddyer walked, and Casilla and Cuddyer pulled off a double steal. The move worked, as Delmon Young followed with a two-run single. Danny Valencia drove in a run in the eighth with a double.

That was plenty for Pavano, who pitched the 16th complete game of his career and second in three starts.

He held the White Sox to six hits, with three walks and five strikeouts. The Twins improved to 27-7 against Chicago since May 2009.

The game was played in 2 hours, 6 minutes, the shortest Twins game of the season.

The Twins were 5-for-5 in stolen-base attempts off the battery of White Sox righthander Gavin Floyd and catcher A.J. Pierzynski.

"Right now, the lineup we’re throwing out there, we’ve gotta run,’’ Cuddyer said.

Gardenhire wants to keep running when everyone is healthy. He’s eager to see how Nishioka fits in with Casilla offensively.

"I know I’m fired up,’’ Gardenhire said. "I’m going to get here early and watch Nishioka play.’’

Casilla is fired up, too,

"I need to go behind my bed and get my Japanese book," he said. "He’s coming at the right [time]. Now we’re going to have a lot of fun, the way we are playing."

 

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