Here are FIVE thoughts following the Twins' 4-2 win over Cleveland on Monday:
MILONE WAS PRETTY SHARP: The Twins have had to audible a few times this season. They needed a shortstop when Danny Santana faltered and a designated hitter when Kennys Vargas stopped hitting. They needed set-up help when Casey Fien got hurt and when Blaine Boyer struggled. They needed a closer when Glen Perkins struggled and then was injured. Heck, they have been juggling starters ever since Ervin Santana failed a PED test. They have had to ad-lib their way through the season. Things weren't any different on Monday when Phil Hughes couldn't start when he was sick, and Tommy Milone -- recovering from shoulder fatigue himself -- pitched 52/3 solid innings to help the Twins win 4-2. Home plate umpire Mark Ripperger gave him a nice outside corner, and the crafty lefty took advantage. The Twins got their week off to a good start. ``My hat goes off to him, getting a late notice and being able to pick us up this late in the season, facing Kluber, after not pitching for a while.’’ Twins manager Paul Molitor said. ``I probably couldn't’t have imagined him getting to the sixth, but he was feeling good and the shoulder was fine.’’
NOT A CLEAN GAME: Molitor talked before the game about the need to play mistake-free baseball. They almost did. The Twins looked to have a big inning brewing in the second when Torii Hunter led off with a double and Chris Herrmann walked on four pitches. With Eduardo Escobar batting, Cleveland catcher Yan Gomes threw behind Hunter and picked him off second (after the Indians successfully challenged the safe call). Escobar flied out, Brian Dozier walked but Aaron Hicks missed a curveball to strike out and end the inning. Molitor was worried the missed opportunity would come back to haunt them. It didn't.
THE BOUNCEBACK, AND BAD BACK: Casey Fien and Glen Perkins pitched poorly on Friday as the Twins blew a lead in the late innings. Both were nails-on Monday. Especially Perkins, who threw strikes with all 11 pitches and had his slider working. Trevor May was not available out of the bullpen on Monday, so the Twins really needed Perkins to pitch well. We should know more about May tomorrow, but it looks as if he's going to be hit or miss the rest of the way because of his sore back. He had it wrapped up after the game, as he watched Randall Cobb lead his fantasy team to glory. ``We're just not sure what we are going to get day-to-day,'' Molitor said of May. ``He is still battling some symptoms that make it hard for him to complete his motion, and today was a day he didn't think he could get it done.''
KLUBER MILESTONE: Corey Kluber, in his longest outing since recovering from a sore hamstring earlier this month, went six innings on Monday. The defending AL Cy Young Award winner gave up seven hits and walked three while striking out six. The six strikeouts gave him 236 for the season and 505 for the last two seasons. He's first AL pitcher to strike out at least 500 batters over two seasons since Johan Santana struck out 503 over 2004 and 2005 with the Twins.
AND NO MORE LOSING: With Monday's win, the Twins are 81-75. Anyone who wagered that they would suffer a fifth straight losing season -- I know of one local morning radio show host who did -- will have to open up your wallet. It's worth mentioning, but not a big deal right now. Molitor pointed out the obvious, that the goal is to make the playoffs. But he added: ``to reverse a little four-year trend is a good thing.''