Twins 8, Indians 1
MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Terry Mulholland was too smart for Cleveland.
The 41-year-old left-hander pitched six strong innings and shut down the Indians for the second time in a week, leading the Minnesota Twins to an 8-1 victory Saturday.
“He’s amazing,” teammate Justin Morneau said. “It just shows his experience and how he can pick up hitters’ tendencies and use it against them.”
Morneau and Torii Hunter hit consecutive homers for the first-place Twins, who opened a six-game lead over Cleveland in the AL Central.
Mulholland yielded one earned run in eight innings at Jacobs Field last Sunday, when Minnesota snapped the Indians’ six-game winning streak with a 4-2 victory in 10 innings.
Cleveland, which pulled within a game of the Twins last Saturday, has lost six straight since. The Indians have been outscored 43-12 during their skid, and Minnesota has won five of six during that span.
“Going back-to-back against any team is pretty tough,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “That got us feeling pretty good and that’s what this game’s all about.”
This time, Mulholland (4-6) allowed just one run and seven hits, striking out four and walking two.
“I tried to mix it up and take what I did in Cleveland last week and build on it,” he said. “I made some adjustments and threw pitches in a different order.”
In their past six games, Twins starters are 4-0 with a 2.93 ERA.
“We had better at-bats against him, but the result wasn’t much different,” Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said. “We’re still in this thing. We’ve proven that just by what we did over a week’s time.”
Chad Durbin (5-5), who had not allowed a run in 14 innings coming in, gave up six runs—five earned—in 4 1-3 innings. He lost for the first time since returning from the minors on July 24.
“Maybe we are pressing a little bit, but if we continue to press, the losses are going to continue to pile up,” Cleveland’s Matt Lawton said. “We’ve got to figure out a way to try to relax ourselves and try not to let this thing snowball.”
Josh Phelps homered off Mulholland with two outs in the second inning to give the Indians a 1-0 lead. It was Phelps’ 13th home run.
But Minnesota came right back with an unearned run in the bottom half. Hunter reached on third baseman Casey Blake’s error, stole second on the next pitch and moved to third on Koskie’s flyout. Guzman drove him in with a sacrifice fly to left.
Morneau hit Durbin’s first pitch of the fourth inning 417 feet to right field for his 12th homer of the year. Hunter followed with a 415-foot shot to left, his 16th, to make it 3-1. It was the sixth time this season the Twins have hit back-to-back home runs.
Hunter, who missed Friday night’s game with a strained neck, made a perfect throw on a fly from center field to third base in the third inning to cut down Ronnie Belliard trying to advance from first on Omar Vizquel’s single.
Koskie was spiked in the left arm on the play and was tended to by trainers after the game but should be fine, according to Gardenhire.
Hunter hurt his neck Thursday against the Yankees when he crashed into the outfield wall trying to make a running catch. … Over the next 14 games the Indians will play two AL division leaders (Yankees, Twins), plus the playoff-contending Angels. … Durbin dropped to 1-2 with a 6.14 ERA in four games against the Twins this season.