MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—The Minnesota Twins rediscovered their offense, their starting pitching and their emotional edge all in one game.
Justin Morneau and Corey Koskie each hit a two-run homer, and Rick Reed won for the first time since May 25 as Minnesota beat the Cleveland Indians 9-2 Friday night in a game that featured five ejections after the benches cleared in the third inning.
Minnesota snapped a four-game losing streak and won for only the sixth time in 20 games. Every Twins starter had at least one hit.
“We’re trying to have some fun out there,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We’ve been talking about it enough. Tonight we finally saw it on the field.”
Gardenhire questioned his team’s heart Thursday after Cleveland’s C.C. Sabathia threw a four-hitter and the Twins didn’t immediately respond when he hit two batters with pitches. But tempers flared Friday when Cleveland starter Jason Davis threw inside to Torii Hunter in the third inning.
Koskie had just homered off Davis (7-7), and Hunter took exception to an 0-2 inside pitch around his waist. He shouted at Davis, who yelled at Hunter to get back in the box. Both benches and bullpens cleared as players poured onto the field.
“He came too far inside,” Hunter said. “It all started last night. Koskie hit a home run, and he threw too far in. I’m tired of it.”
No punches were thrown, but Hunter had to be restrained by Twins coaches Steve Liddle and Al Newman. Plate umpire Matt Hollowell immediately ejected Hunter and Davis. Crew chief Bill Hohn ejected both managers, Gardenhire and Cleveland’s Eric Wedge, as well as Sabathia.
Hohn said the managers were warned before the game about inside pitches, and Sabathia was ejected for screaming a profanity.
“You look at everything,” Hohn said. “You take what’s being said from the dugout, the reaction of players.”
Said Davis: “I probably could have handled that situation a little better, the next time it happens. I think it’s just two teams scrapping, trying to win.”
Hunter was involved in a bench-clearing dustup against the Indians last year. That time he threw a ball at Cleveland pitcher Danys Baez after Baez hit him with a pitch. Hunter served a three-game suspension and apologized to Baez after that game. This time he was unrepentant.
“I ain’t apologizing this time,” Hunter said. “I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do.”
Reed (4-8), who won 15 games for the Twins last season, gave the struggling starting rotation a lift. Minnesota starters had won just three of their previous 19 outings, but Reed scattered six hits over seven innings. He allowed one run, struck out five and retired his last 11 hitters.
“That was vintage,” Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson said.
Morneau hit his third career homer and first in the Metrodome, a two-run shot in the second inning.
Tempers cooled after the third inning, but the Twins’ offense didn’t. Luis Rivas’ two-run single off Terry Mulholland made it 6-1 in the fourth, and Koskie drove in a run with a groundout. Cristian Guzman delivered a two-rundouble off Nick Bierbrodt in the fifth.
Reed’s victory was the first by a Twins starter other than Kenny Rogers since June 19. … Indians OF Coco Crisp has reached base leading off the last seven games. He bunted for a single on the first pitch of the game, after doing the same thing Thursday. … Guzman had two doubles after getting only two extra-base hits in his previous 24 games. … Gardenhire said the team had not made a decision about whether to put OF Jacque Jones on the disabled list. Jones has a strained groin. … The Indians are expected to call up lefty Jason Stanford on Saturday to start Sunday. It would be Stanford’s major leaguedebut. He is 8-2 with a 3.18 ERA for Triple-A Buffalo.