Baker (9-7) pitched seven scoreless innings and was backed by home runs from Carlos Gomez(notes) and Jason Kubel(notes), leading the Twins to a 10-1 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night.
“Getting those runs helped a lot,” Baker said. “Seven innings was a step in the right direction.”
Gomez had three hits and four RBIs, and Joe Mauer(notes) hit three of Minnesota’s season-high seven doubles as the Twins broke a three-game losing streak and moved 2 1/2 games behind first-place Detroit in the AL Central. The Twins came in with 163 doubles, next-to-last in the AL.
“Doubles are nice,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Gomez had a big night, Baker was tough and we had a lot of good things happen.”
Justin Morneau(notes) drove in two runs, giving him an AL-leading 88 RBIs. Orlando Cabrera(notes), recently acquired from Oakland, extended his hitting streak to 14 games and hit his 400th career double.
Baker (9-7) picked up a staff that yielded 35 runs and 52 hits in a three-game weekend sweep by the Los Angeles Angels.
“You are aware of that, but can’t carry it out there with you,” Baker said. “My objective had to be the same regardless of the previous series.”
Before the game, Gardenhire stressed to Baker the importance of going deep into the game and saving the bullpen.
“It wasn’t so much a challenge as it was about begging,” Gardenhire said. “We have good pitchers and the challenge is for them to step up. Baker did a good job.”
The right-hander allowed three hits and one walk, striking out four to improve to 5-1 in eight starts since June 25.
“His fastball is a little different,” said Indians outfielder Shin-Soo Choo(notes), who went 0-for-4. “He throws 88-90 (mph), but it looked like he was throwing 94. It’s straight, but it’s tough to get a good swing at.”
Baker is 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA in two starts this year against Cleveland, which threatened against him only once. Jhonny Peralta(notes) singled with two outs in the fourth and went to third on a double by Travis Hafner(notes). Rookie Chris Gimenez(notes) then hit a drive to the warning track in center that Gomez caught with a leap in front of the wall.
“Everything in the ballpark, I have to catch,” Gomez said.
Baker said Gomez’s effort gave him new life.
“I was able to sit (in the dugout) and refocus,” he said. “It was a great catch.”
Kubel put the Twins ahead 1-0 in the second against David Huff(notes) (5-6) with his 19th homer—only his second off a left-hander. Kubel is hitting .370 (10-for-27) with five homers this year against the Indians.
Gomez broke out of a 4-for-21 slide later in the inning with an RBI single to make it 2-0.
“That swing set the tone for him,” Gardenhire said. “He worked on shortening his swing during batting practice. If he figures it out on a consistent basis, he can be a heck of a player.”
Denard Span(notes) drew a leadoff walk to set up a six-run fifth for an 8-0 lead, capped by Gomez’s three-run homer on the first pitch from reliever Jensen Lewis(notes). Span scored on Cabrera’s milestone double. Mauer then doubled home Cabrera and scored on a single by Morneau.
The homer was the 10th allowed in 40 1-3 innings by Lewis.
Huff allowed 11 hits and seven runs over 4 2-3 innings. The rookie is 2-4 with a 7.94 ERA in seven starts since July 3.
“They’re all good hitters,” Huff said. “I need to be more efficient with my pitches. That’s what it comes down to. I didn’t get my job done.”
Cleveland’s staff ERA rose to 5.20, worst in the AL, though the loss was just the fourth in 11 games for the Indians.
Notes: RHP Jose Veras(notes) said after the game he had been designated for assignment by the Indians. Cleveland assistant GM Chris Antonetti said RHP Jess Todd(notes) would be called up from Triple-A Columbus on Wednesday. … Twins OF Michael Cuddyer(notes) (sore back) missed his third straight game, but took batting practice. Gardenhire thinks Cuddyer will return Wednesday when LHP Francisco Liriano(notes), who missed his last start with a sore forearm, is scheduled to pitch. … Twins RHP Kevin Slowey(notes) had surgery to remove a bone chip from his wrist. He is expected to be ready for spring training. … Indians RHP Jake Westbrook(notes) allowed four hits and two runs over two innings, striking out two in a rehab start at Double-A Akron. He had Tommy John surgery in June 2008. … RHP Bryan Price, one of three pitchers acquired by Cleveland from Boston for C Victor Martinez(notes), allowed one unearned run over six innings at Class A Kinston in his first game since the trade on Friday.