Cleveland's errors pave way for Twins

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 8, 2012 - 7:30 AM

Minnesota pounced on three Cleveland miscues to overcome a 5-1 deficit and hand the Indians their 11th consecutive defeat.

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CLEVELAND - The Cleveland Indians were flabbergasted after their 11th consecutive defeat Tuesday night, tired of all the cruel and unusual ways they're finding to lose.

Meanwhile, the Twins preferred to focus on all the creative ways they're finding to win. They even got Tsuyoshi Nishioka in on the fun this time.

For the third time in five games, the Twins pulled off a big comeback, defeating the beleaguered Indians 7-5 at Progressive Field.

"It appears we're scoring enough to win," Cleveland manager Manny Acta said. "But our two biggest strengths -- our defense and bullpen -- betrayed us."

The Twins trailed 5-1 in the seventh inning, when Cleveland made two errors, leading to three unearned runs.

Clinging to a one-run lead in the ninth, Acta turned to closer Chris Perez, who'd blown a three-run, 10th-inning lead in Sunday's 10-8 loss at Detroit.

Josh Willingham hit a one-out single off Perez, and then pinch runner Darin Mastroianni stole second base. Justin Morneau followed with a spinning grounder down the line, and first baseman Casey Kotchman misplayed it for yet another error, as Mastroianni scored the tying run.

An announced crowd of 14,813 unleashed some loud boos, and Ryan Doumit quickly made things worse for them, lining a double into the right-center gap to put runners at second and third.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly to left field, and Brian Dozier singled home an insurance run for Glen Perkins, who came on for his seventh save.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire noted how his entire team was perched along the dugout railing in the ninth inning, waiting for something good to happen. His team is 9-3 in its past 12 games and can pull even with the Indians for third place in the AL Central with another victory in Wednesday's series finale.

"Once you get that feeling that we can do these things, it just starts rolling," Gardenhire said. "That's the belief you have to get, that the game's never over until they get the last out, and these guys definitely have that right now."

The Twins overcame a rough start by Sam Deduno, who allowed four runs and walked five batters in four innings. Their offense managed only one run over six innings against Corey Kluber, a 26-year-old making his second major league start.

But once Cleveland started kicking the ball around, the Twins pounced. That might seem like luck, but there's a reason this team has been particularly adept at capitalizing on these chances.

They lead the majors with 143 runs since the All-Star break, and their lineup is filled with players taking professional at-bats.

"The geeky side of me was looking at Fangraphs.com, and our hitters have the best strikeout-to-walk ratio in the game," Perkins said. "So we work counts and don't strike out a whole lot.

"Then when you get that hit or they make an error, it's not a two-out error with nobody on. It's a two-out error with the bases loaded. It would not be fun to pitch to this team, I know that."

Nishioka is 0-for-8 with two errors since getting promoted from Class AAA Rochester, but now he's in the books with a game-winning RBI.

"I think he was so much more relaxed today that he was yesterday," Gardenhire said. "He was better. Everybody was rooting for him pretty hard. We needed it. That's huge for him. It's good to see him smile."

  • TWINS 7, CLEVELAND 5 Up next: 11:05 a.m. today at Cleveland •TV: FSN (1500-AM)

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