Twins 5, Rangers 4, 10 innings
MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—This late in the season, even game-winning celebrations can be exhausting.
“I breathed a sigh of relief,” Doug Mientkiewicz said. “We’re all too beat up to go punching on each other.”
The Twins have won five straight and 10 of their last 13 as they kept pace with the Chicago White Sox, who completed a three-game sweep of Cleveland. The Twins and White Sox, tied for first place in the AL Central, open a four-game series at Chicago Monday night.
“It was a good win for us,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Now we get to go on and have some fun in Chi-town. We’re just going to go play some baseball, do some work and get ready to take some swings at them and see what happens. It ought to be a lot of fun.”
Mientkiewicz led off the 10th with a walk against Francisco Cordero (4-7). After Matthew LeCroy singled, third baseman Hank Blalock fielded Jacque Jones’ bunt and tried to force Mientkiewicz at third. But umpire Chuck Meriwether ruled that his throw pulled shortstop Alex Rodriguez off the base and all runners were safe.
“Chuck is a human being. He can make a mistake,” Rodriguez said. “He said the throw pulled me off, but it was obvious on the video it didn’t.”
Hunter hit the game-winning sacrifice fly to right field on Cordero’s next pitch, and Mientkiewicz scored easily as Laynce Nix’s throw was up the third-base line.
“I was looking for a certain pitch,” Hunter said. “I sat on a slider and tried to take it the other way, and it worked out, just like that. I just wanted to get it in the air and get it to right field.”
Rick Reed (6-12) pitched two innings of scoreless relief the day he was activated from the 15-day disabled list. He gave up one hit and retired six of the seven batters he faced.
Mientkiewicz had a pair of RBI singles for the Twins, including a two-out hit to left field that tied the game at 4 in the seventh. He said after the game he wanted to atone for a two-base error that led to a pair of unearned runs in the sixth inning, when Rangers rookie Gerald Laird hit a two-out, two-run triple to give Texas a 4-3 lead.
“I’m happy we won that one,” Mientkiewicz said. “I would have been sick if I had cost us that one. It’s a ground ball I field 99 times out of 100 and I booted it.”
Any time the former Gold Glove winner makes an error, his teammates are surprised.
“Dougie finally missed a ball, but you can’t get on him about that because he caught 1,000 before that,” Hunter said. “But he came through with some clutch hits and tied the game up, so you’ve got to commend Dougie on that.”
Twins starter Kenny Rogers almost escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the third inning after he stabbed Shane Spencer’s one-hopper and started a 1-2-3 double play. But after issuing an intentional walk to Rodriguez, Rogers also walked Rafael Palmeiro to force in a run, giving Texas a 2-1 lead.
Texas starter Colby Lewis allowed three runs on three hits and three walks in 4 2-3 innings.
“Almost 50 percent of their guys had three-ball counts,” Rangers manager Buck Showalter said of Lewis’ performance. “That turns pitchers’ counts into batters’ counts. It all as to do with command. That’s been his problem allalong.”
Texas 2B Michael Young got his 56th multihit game on Sunday, tied for third-best in the AL. … Twins LF Shannon Stewart was not in the starting lineup due to a sore hamstring. Stewart had started 46 consecutive games either in the outfield or at DH. rookie Michael Ryan replaced Stewart in left, and led off the bottom of the first with a home run. … Twins 2B Luis Rivas was a latescratch from the lineup after experiencing back pain during warmups.