CLEVELAND -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire on Monday held up three $100 bills while standing in his office following his team’s 6-4 victory over Cleveland.
"I told them from now on, no more," he said. "Missed signs, just bring the cash in."
So the Twins didn’t execute perfectly and had a couple calls go against them. Only a week ago, it would have been enough to topple them.
Now they remain confident. They battle through at-bats. Get a big strikeout. Channel their inner small ball.
They carved out a victory against the AL Central-leading Indians, dealing them their fifth consecutive loss and seventh in a row at Progressive Field. The Twins are 11½ games back of Cleveland but have won five in a row and are a half-game behind Houston in their quest to not have the worst record in baseball.
"The little things, guys executing, dropping down bunts," Gardenhire said. "Trying to figure how they can get on base to help out the ballclub. Those are all things when you are struggling, they don’t go well."
Four players had two hits, including Matt Tolbert, whose two-out, two-run single in the second tied the score — no small thing for these Twins.
Righthander Scott Baker’s third pitch of the game was rifled to right by Michael Brantley for a double. The fourth pitch was drilled into the right-field seats by Asdrubal Cabrera for a two-run homer and a 2-0 lead in the first inning.
The Twins entered Monday 2-24 when the opposition scores first.
They would not be roadkill this time. Baker settled down — giving up four runs (three earned) over seven innings to win for the first time since May 6 — and watched his teammates rebound.
The Twins had two on and one out in the second when Luke Hughes struck out. But Tolbert followed with a single to right, scoring Michael Cuddyer and Delmon Young.
"I was just trying to get into a good count and put a good swing on it," Tolbert said, "and it found a hole."
Then Drew Butera bunted for a single in the fifth, allowing Luke Hughes to score from third and the Twins to take the lead.
"He said he was tired of swinging and missing at sliders," Gardenhire said, "so he decided to push bunt."
In the same inning, Tolbert scored during a double play and Butera scored on a wild pitch. It wasn’t a line-drive fest, but the Twins’ lead grew to 5-2.
Brantley’s homer in the fifth made it 5-3 before Cuddyer raced home on Young’s bloop double to make it 6-3 in the sixth.
The Twins had to fight through two questionable calls in the eighth, including a grounder by Shin-Soo Choo that deflected off Cuddyer at first. Cuddyer recovered in time to throw to Jose Mijares, who covered first, and replays showed Choo was out. Not
according to umpire Adrian Johnson. Choo was called safe as a run scored to make it 6-4.
Alex Burnett came on to get a big strikeout of Matt LaPorta to end the eighth. Matt Capps got through the ninth for his eighth save.
"There’s a lot of excitement on the bench," Gardenhire said. "There’s a lot better feeling about [having] a chance to win. No matter what the score is, we feel we can stay in the ballgame. A lot better feeling."