07/06/08 8:35 PM ET
Even Lee can't hold Twins down
Minnesota gets to Tribe lefty with three late runs to sweep
By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com
A little bit of hitting, some patience at the plate and a burst of speed on the basepaths -- call it the characteristic Twins comeback."The difference is, when [a pitcher] starts making mistakes and start walking guys, can you capitalize on it? And that's what we've been doing," catcher Mike Redmond said of the Twins winning 18 of their last 21. "We've been able to capitalize on the mistakes and take advantage of them. When we get guys in scoring position, look at the numbers. We're lights out. Guys get big hits. When guys are out there with one out or two outs, guys are driving them in." But early on in the contest, the Twins had struggled to get anything going off the pitcher who has been one of the best comeback stories of the '08 season. Casilla tried to get a rally started with a one-out bunt single in the first. Casilla lined a bunt just over Lee's head almost into center field. But after Casilla's hit, Lee (11-2) retired 14 of the next 15 batters he faced. The lone Twins hitter to reach during that time was Gomez, who singled to shortstop Jhonny Peralta in the third inning. A slight altercation took place following that third inning. Gomez crossed paths with Lee near the pitching mound at the end of the inning, Gomez said that Lee told him to quit bunting. That didn't sit well with Gomez, who began exchanging words with the starter. Home-plate umpire Jeff Nelson stepped in, and first-base coach Jerry White and Gardenhire each expressed their anger to him over the event. But in reality, it might have been just what the Twins needed. "When Cliff Lee said something to Gomez, I think that woke us up a bit," Redmond said. "I think it fired us up a little bit. It probably worked against him." Lee was able to keep the Twins quiet until the sixth, but in the meantime, Minnesota starter Glen Perkins was doing just enough to keep his club in the contest. Perkins (5-2) gave up one run in the second inning. Kelly Shoppach doubled to right field on a ball that bounced off the baggie and over Span's head. Ryan Garko followed with a single to center that scored Shoppach from second. The left-hander then settled down to pitch three scoreless innings before Jhonny Peralta added a two-run homer to left field in the sixth to give Cleveland a 3-0 lead. Regardless, in a stretch where the Twins have been making comebacks night after night, the three-run deficit certainly didn't seem like too much to overcome. "To know that we are going to score runs, it's just a matter of time, is huge for a pitcher," Perkins said. "You don't want to give up runs. but if you give up a run or two, you know you are going to be in the game and still have a chance to win. And it happened today." Another solid effort by the bullpen included a scoreless eighth inning by Matt Guerrier before Joe Nathan, who had been named to the All-Star team earlier in the day, picked up his 25th save of the season. Seeing his team find a way to pull off a late comeback win over a pitcher like Lee certainly pleased Gardenhire. And he hasn't minded at all the way that the wins keep coming. "When the big guys are not hitting home runs, it's nice to see the other guys contributing," Gardenhire said. "Today was another one of those days against a very good pitcher."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.