The outfielder's speed intrigues the Twins, and his game-winning hit in the 10th inning suggests he's arrived.
CLEVELAND - Leadoff hitters have been called ignitors.
Call Ben Revere the inflator.
The Twins were on their way to a 2-1 victory over Cleveland and a winning road trip. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire began to think happy thoughts as hung over the railing in front of the visitor's dugout. One out to go.
Then Jack Hannahan clobbered a Matt Capps pitch over the right-center field wall to tie the score at 2-2.
"It was deflating when they hit the home run and tied the ballgame up," Gardenhire said. "It was a really good game at that point. [Then] the kid comes up again and flips one in the outfield."
The kid was Revere, who stepped to the plate in the 10th inning and stroked a single to left-center, scoring Drew Butera from second with the winning run and capping a day that made you want to see more of the diminutive dynamo in the Twins lineup.
The victory sure lifted the Twins' spirits. They finished the 10-game road trip with a 6-4 record. They won back-to-back series for the first time all season. They won a one-run game after losing eight of their past nine.
It was Revere who lifted -- inflated -- the Twins' spirits after Capps blew his fifth save of the season. Revere was 3-for-5 on Wednesday with a stolen base and two RBI and is batting .302.
He factored in every Twins run Wednesday. He had an RBI single in the third inning. He singled, stole second and scored on Justin Morneau's double in the fifth. Then came his clutch hit in the 10th.
Revere has at least one hit in each of the seven games since his recall from Class AAA Rochester on June 2, going 11-for-30 (.367) during that stretch. The Twins are 6-1 in those games.
This isn't meant to suggest he's the reason the Twins have played better of late, but he's definitely one of the reasons.
"Oh man, he's an athlete, that's for sure," Twins righthander Carl Pavano said. "He's got a lot of threats. Speed. Glove. Smart. Athletic. He hits the ball where it's pitched. For a leadoff guy that's very important. And he's aggressive. For a young guy, that's very important."
Gardenhire has said Revere brings energy to the lineup. Some players have wondered at various times where that energy has been at times this season. Here's Revere -- at age 23, with 35 games of major-league experience -- supplying it.
"He seems to always get something going," Pavano said.
Revere has been in this position before.
"It kind of has been that way all the way through the minors," he said. "People have called me, 'Firecracker.' If I could do that with this squad, it would be phenomenal. Just trying to get back in that race. All I'm trying to do is get on base, score runs and get the 'W.'"
The Twins should learn more Thursday about the condition of outfielder and leadoff man Denard Span, who fears he might have a repeat of the vestibular neuritis that sent him to the 15-day disabled list in 2009. If so, Revere is going to get his chance to show what he can do over a stretch of time.
Revere, the Twins' first-round pick in 2007, does not throw well, but might be the fastest player in the organization. He doesn't strike out a lot, so the contact-speed combo can put pressure on defenses.
He must show those skills during his extended audition. A few extra-base hits (he has one, a double) would be nice, too.
More game-winning hits also will force the Twins to include him in their long-term thinking.
"It's not really much of a learning curve," Gardenhire said of Revere. "He's been thrust into the fire more than anything else because of all the injuries we've had."
La Velle E. Neal III • email@example.com
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