|Minnesota (57-53) «||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||x||1||5||0|
MINNEAPOLIS -- A week and a half ago, the Minnesota Twins were 9½ games back in the AL Central race and reeling after an embarrassing three-game sweep in Toronto.
Things have sure changed dramatically in 11 days. With Cleveland and Detroit both slumping, the scrappy Twins are again within striking distance of a playoff berth.
"We smell blood right now," Torii Hunter said after Minnesota's 1-0 win against the Indians on Sunday. "We're ready to go."
While the Indians maintained a half-game lead over second-place Detroit, the Twins closed within 4½ games of first place for the first time since May 10. Minnesota was 9½ games back as recently as July 25.
"It means we're getting closer," Michael Cuddyer said. "We're not there yet, but at the same time we're on the right path."
The Twins have struggled mightily on offense as of late, having scored more than three runs only three times in their last 11 games and batting .230 in August. Facing Fausto Carmona on Sunday didn't make it any easier, but Baker stifled the Indians' lineup. Cleveland was shut out for the sixth time this season.
"We didn't do anything offensively," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "When we had opportunities we just weren't able to take advantage of them. ... We're a much better offensive ballclub than what we've been showing lately."
Baker (6-4) struck out four and walked two, retiring 19 of his last 22 batters. He kept the Indians guessing at the plate by changing speeds and locations.
"These guys are pretty aggressive," Baker said of the Indians' lineup. "Anytime you can do that, it's pretty effective."
Cleveland's final hit off Baker came when Trot Nixon's fly ball dropped between shortstop Jason Bartlett and left fielder Jason Tyner to lead off the eighth. Baker then snared Jhonny Peralta's bunt attempt out of the air as pinch-runner Jason Michaels headed for second and threw to first for a double play, drawing a standing ovation.
Peralta had two strikes on the pitch, and Wedge had taken down the bunt signal. But Peralta went for it anyway.
"He has a lot of confidence in his ability and he should, because he's a good bunter," Wedge said.
Josh Barfield ended the inning with a popout.
"I don't know if it was how well he pitched or maybe our lack of focus or attention at the plate. But give him credit, he threw well for them," Casey Blake said.
Joe Nathan finished the five-hitter for his 26th save in 28 chances, allowing a two-out single to Blake before retiring Victor Martinez on a groundout. Cleveland did not get a runner past second base.
Carmona (13-6), who lost his second consecutive start after winning five in a row, allowed five hits and five walks in seven innings and struck out five. He had been 2-0 against the Twins this year.
"Fausto was outstanding today," Wedge said. "You can't say enough about his performance. We had every opportunity and we weren't able to get it done."
Cleveland dropped to 2-4 in 1-0 games this season.
The one run was enough with Baker on the mound.
"Unbelievable job. He went out there and got out of," Cuddyer said before pausing. "He didn't have any jams."
|Scott Baker gives the Twins a big AL Central lift with eight scoreless innings of four-hit ball. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Grady Sizemore, CF||3||0||0||0||0||1||0||.281|
|Kenny Lofton, LF||2||0||0||0||2||0||0||.298|
|Casey Blake, 3B||4||0||1||0||0||0||2||.267|
|Victor Martinez, C||4||0||1||0||0||1||2||.304|
|Travis Hafner, DH||3||0||1||0||0||0||0||.253|
|Ryan Garko, 1B||3||0||1||0||0||1||2||.312|
|Trot Nixon, RF||3||0||1||0||0||0||3||.258|
|Jason Michaels, PR-RF||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.271|
|Jhonny Peralta, SS||3||0||0||0||0||1||3||.275|
|Josh Barfield, 2B||3||0||0||0||0||0||1||.248|
|2B - Ryan Garko (20, Baker)|
|CS - Grady Sizemore (7, 2nd base by Baker/Mauer), Kenny Lofton (5, 2nd base by Baker/Mauer)|
|Team LOB - 4|
|Fausto Carmona (L,13-6)||7||5||1||1||5||5||0||3.17|
|IBB - Mauer by Fausto Carmona|
|Pitches-Strikes - Fausto Carmona 114-69, Rafael Perez 18-10|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Fausto Carmona 12-4, Rafael Perez 2-1|
|Batters Faced - Fausto Carmona 31, Rafael Perez 4|
|Jason Tyner, LF||3||0||1||0||1||0||2||.278|
|Jason Bartlett, SS||4||0||0||0||0||0||1||.260|
|Joe Mauer, C||2||0||1||0||2||0||0||.303|
|Michael Cuddyer, RF||4||0||0||0||0||1||5||.289|
|Justin Morneau, 1B||4||0||0||0||0||1||0||.289|
|Torii Hunter, CF||4||0||0||0||0||2||0||.288|
|Jason Kubel, DH||2||1||2||0||2||0||0||.249|
|Brian Buscher, 3B||2||0||0||0||1||0||2||.263|
|Nick Punto, 3B||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.208|
|Alexi Casilla, 2B||3||0||1||1||0||1||0||.254|
|2B - Alexi Casilla (2, Carmona)|
|RBI - Alexi Casilla (5)|
|2-OUT RBI - Alexi Casilla (3)|
|SB - Jason Tyner (7, 2nd base off Carmona/Martinez)|
|Team LOB - 10|
|DP - Buscher-Casilla-Morneau, Baker-Morneau|
|Scott Baker (W,6-4)||8||4||0||0||2||4||0||4.43|
|Joe Nathan (S,26)||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||1.94|
|HBP - Sizemore (by Scott Baker)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Scott Baker 93-66, Joe Nathan 10-7|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Scott Baker 3-13, Joe Nathan 2-1|
|Batters Faced - Scott Baker 27, Joe Nathan 4|
|Attendance - 38334|
|Game Time - 2:34|
|Temperature - 70|
|Umpires - Home - Paul Emmel, First Base - Dan Iassogna, Second Base - Dale Scott, Third Base - Ron Kulpa|