Cleveland (25-26) at Minnesota (30-21)

  • Game info: 1:10 pm EDT Thu Jun 2, 2005
Preview | Box Score | Recap

One player’s dominant performance was enough to get the Minnesota Twins a win Wednesday. That could easily happen again Thursday.

A day after Torii Hunter carried Minnesota to victory, Johan Santana hopes to do the same in the deciding contest of a three-game set with the Cleveland Indians.

Hunter, enduring a disappointing season, had a breakout game Wednesday as he set a career high with five hits and matched a career best with six RBIs as the Twins beat the Indians 6-2 to even this series.

“He’s been out here early working on just trying to get better, and tonight it paid off,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “If we can get him on a roll, we can score a lot of runs.”

The 5-for-5 performance, highlighted by a grand slam, raised Hunter’s season average 20 points to .258. However, in 12 games against Cleveland, he’s batting .385 (20-for-52) with three homers and 12 RBIs.

Santana has also enjoyed success against the Indians, with a 5-0 career record and 3.00 ERA. He won his only start against them this season, striking out 10 in six innings of a 3-2 victory on April 15.

The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner has followed two poor outings with a pair of solid efforts in his last two starts, yielding four runs and nine hits in 14 innings with three walks and 19 strikeouts.

Twins pitching has been solid overall lately, allowing an average of just three runs over the last nine games.

Cleveland had given up a total of nine runs during a four-game winning streak before losing Wednesday.

The Indians learned earlier in the day that Juan Gonzalez was headed back to the disabled list with a strained hamstring suffered in Tuesday’s 4-3 win over the Twins. The injury occurred as he tried to beat out a slow grounder in his first major league at-bat in more than a year.

Gonzalez was expected to bat cleanup for the Indians, but manager Eric Wedge may have found a capable replacement.

Ben Broussard batted fourth Wednesday and provided Cleveland’s only offensive highlight with a two-run homer. In nine games as the cleanup hitter this season, Broussard has four homers and nine RBIs while batting .382 (13-for-34).

“I think he’s a guy that’s established himself as a middle-of-the-order guy,” Wedge said. “He’s really been one of our most consistent clutch hitters.”

Broussard is 10-for-24 (.417) with three homers, four doubles and seven RBIs in his last six starts.

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Starting Pitchers

S. Elarton MIN vs. J. Santana TOR
11-9 Record 16-7
4.61 ERA 2.87
103 K 238
48 BB 45
1.30 WHIP 0.97