The scrap heap was good to the Twins last winter. They plucked outfielder Darin Mastroianni off waivers from the Blue Jays and watched him turn into the guy their Class AAA Rochester staff couldn't wait to recommend for a promotion.
"They told me he was their most exciting baseball player," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I agree 100 percent with them. He's a very exciting baseball player."
And then there's righthander Sam Deduno, who was released by the Padres last year after barely getting a shot in the big leagues.
Both players were instrumental on Monday night as the Twins ended a four-game losing streak by defeating the Tigers 9-3 at Target Field.
Mastroianni went 3-for-5 with a home run and three RBI, stole his 14th base in 16 chances and made a diving catch in right field to help stymie Detroit's comeback attempt in the eighth inning.
Deduno (4-0) racked up five walks again, but he held the Tigers to one run on two hits over the first seven innings. With the Twins leading 8-1, Gardenhire let him start the eighth inning for the first time this year, and Detroit ended his night with three consecutive hits.
Gardenhire patted Deduno's chest as he took the ball, and with the crowd giving a loud ovation, the 29-year-old rookie triumphantly thrust both fists in the air on his way back to the dugout. "Just thanks, God, for everything," Deduno said. "That's what I said."
It was the fourth time Deduno has allowed five walks in a game, but none of those has turned into a loss. In fact, the Twins are 6-1 in his starts.
Deduno spent most of last season with San Diego's Class AAA affiliate, making just two relief appearances in the majors.
Monday was Ryan Doumit's first chance to catch Deduno in a game. "I've never seen anything like that before in my life," Doumit said. "I hope he stays with us. I know I never want to face him.
"I had tons of anxiety before catching him tonight because I'd caught him in between innings other times and thought, 'He's filthy.'
"If he can learn to harness it and maybe cut down on the walks, I think he has the chance to be pretty special."
Mastroianni gave the Twins a 2-1 lead in the fifth inning when he hit his third homer of the season just beyond the left-field wall off Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez (1-3). Mastroianni added a two-run, two-out single in the sixth, and Doumit stretched the lead to 8-1 with a three-run homer in the seventh.
Mastroianni, who turns 27 on Aug. 26, is establishing himself as the kind of fourth outfielder the Twins would love to have for years. He's batting .296 with a .361 on-base percentage.
Watching all the things Mastroianni can do to help a team win makes one wonder: Why did Toronto let him go?
"I have no idea," said Mastroianni, who lasted one day in the big leagues last season. "They had a chance to get Francisco Cordero, who at the time was a very established closer, and that was their decision. I don't hold any hard feelings. It's a business, and that was what they felt the organization needed.
"Fortunately for me I got claimed by this organization, and I've been very fortunate to be here. I love this organization and this city, and I hope I'll be here for a long time."
|Minnesota - LP: V. Worley||3||FINAL|
|Atlanta - WP: P. Maholm||8|
|Cincinnati||7||Bottom 9th Inning|
|Los Angeles||9||Bottom 9th Inning|
|Oakland||1||Top 8th Inning|
|Arizona||0||Top 4th Inning|
|Washington||0||Top 2nd Inning|
|Tampa Bay - J. Hellickson||3:37 PM|
|Toronto - M. Buehrle|
|Chicago Cubs - J. Samardzija||6:05 PM|
|Pittsburgh - F. Liriano|
|Detroit - J. Verlander||6:05 PM|
|Cleveland - U. Jimenez|
|NY Yankees - H. Kuroda||6:05 PM|
|Baltimore - J. Hammel|
|Seattle - B. Maurer||6:05 PM|
|LA Angels - J. Williams|
|Philadelphia - C. Lee||6:10 PM|
|Miami - K. Slowey|
|Boston - C. Buchholz||7:10 PM|
|Chicago WSox - H. Santiago|
|Kansas City - J. Shields||7:10 PM|
|Houston - J. Lyles|
|St. Louis - T. Lyons||9:10 PM|
|San Diego - B. Smith|