Slowey slow plays White Sox
Cuddyer's four RBIs aid cause as Twins salvage finale
MINNEAPOLIS -- On a day filled with heavy emotions at the possible departure of Torii Hunter, nine years a member of the Twins, some younger Minnesota players made a strong impression.
The Twins tallied 11 hits in the 7-1 win over the White Sox and got a superb pitching performance from Kevin Slowey, from whom the Minnesota fans could see much more next season.
Slowey, now in his second stint of the season with the big league club, effectively mixed his strong fastball and offspeed pitches to hold the White Sox hitters to just one run on four hits over a career-high seven innings.
"Those guys always find somebody out there," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said of Slowey. "This kid has great stuff, and his body language on the mound is great. They found another good one."
Slowey set a new career high in strikeouts with nine and allowed no free passes. What's more, the 23-year-old surrendered no home runs, something he has struggled with throughout the season. It was just the third outing of the season that he did not allow at least one long ball.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has been most impressed with the adjustments Slowey made between his two stints with the club.
Slowey was with the Twins from May 31 through July 5, when he was optioned back to Triple-A Rochester. Over that span, Slowey compiled a 3-0 record in seven starts and had a 5.84 ERA, giving up 13 home runs. He was sent down after giving up five earned runs in just 3 2/3 innings at Yankee Stadium on July 5.
At the time, Gardenhire spoke of his desire for Slowey to slow down and work on his offspeed pitches by getting more work in Rochester. Slowey seems to have listened to his manager's advice.
Slowey returned to the Twins on Sept. 4, and in his last two starts is 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA and 16 strikeouts.
"He slowed the ball up enough today. He pitched hard inside," Gardenhire said. "He did a lot of good things today. [He threw] lots of great breaking balls today, and I think those are the things you need to do to be successful.
"He's learned from his first stint up here to the second. We told him what he had to work on, and he worked on it. He is slowing the ball down, and that sets up everything else. He's coming along, and he's a good pitcher."
Slowey was not the only Twins youngster to make an impact on the game.
Garrett Jones belted his first career home run in the second inning, a 414-foot solo shot to center field.
The Twins broke it open in the sixth. Jason Kubel led off the inning with a broken-bat single to center field, Hunter hit a single to left and Justin Morneau drew a walk to load the bases. Michael Cuddyer then hit a line-drive single to left field to score Kubel and Hunter. Brian Buscher singled to plate Morneau.
It was the first time in 117 innings -- since Sept. 8 in Chicago -- that the Twins had managed four hits in an inning.
With his contract expiring at the end of the season and negotiations having gone nowhere during the season, Hunter's status with the Twins is uncertain. He was given several standing ovations by the crowd on Sunday and went 1-for-3 at the plate with two runs scored before Gardenhire removed him in the 9th inning to a raucous ovation.
"It's been an emotional day; he's been through a lot," Gardenhire said. "He's had to listen to it, and this day has been building up. It was one of those days that was hard.
"We all hope -- everybody is right behind me in hoping -- that we do the right thing and sign the guy."
The win just pushed the Twins over the .500 mark at home, as they finished 41-40 on the season at the Metrodome.
The 29,382 fans in attendance put the Twins' total season mark at 2,296,383, the third highest total in club history behind 1988 and 1992.
Leslie Parker is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.