|Minnesota (9-10) «||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||2||11||0|
MINNEAPOLIS -- Even as his average hovered in the .220s through the first two weeks of the season, Justin Morneau didn't have to look far to find encouragement.
He may not have been knocking the cover off the ball all game long, but when he came to the plate with runners in scoring position, he was as close to a sure thing as there is in this game.
"You try to always look for the positive, try to ignore the average and tell yourself you want to be up there in the big situations," said Morneau, whose big 10th-inning hit gave the Minnesota Twins a 2-1 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Sunday.
Morneau whiffed on his first chance to beat the Indians but the 2006 AL MVP had a pretty good feeling with two outs and Brendan Harris on third base in the 10th.
After striking out with a runner on second in the eighth inning, Morneau squeezed a single through the right side of the infield and pumped his fist as Harris jogged home with the winning run.
Morneau has hit safely in 13 of his last 15 games to raise his average to .269. He is 9-for-15 (.600) with 12 RBI with runners in scoring position this season.
"He's the guy we want up there in big situations," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Rafael Perez (0-1) took the loss in relief of an impressive start from Paul Byrd, and the defending AL Central champions have lost eight of their past 11.
"We've got to figure this offense out," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "We've got better players in there. We've got better hitters in there. There is no excuses. The guys that are spinning their wheels have to find a way to get going."
Harris had three hits and a home run and Scott Baker allowed one run and five hits in seven innings for the Twins, who took two of three from the Indians despite scoring only five runs in the series.
Matt Guerrier (1-1) threw a scoreless inning to get the win in a low-scoring grinder that shouldn't have come as a surprise in a game featuring the two worst offenses in the American League.
The Twins have scored more than five runs in a game just four times this season and entered the day with the worst slugging percentage (.354) in the AL.
In a development as puzzling as Detroit's 6-13 start, the powerful Indians lineup was just a few percentage points ahead of the Twins at .360. But Travis Hafner, Grady Sizemore and most of heavy-swinging Tribe simply haven't been getting it done early in the season.
Byrd gave up one run and six hits in seven innings. Franklin Gutierrez's RBI single in the second was all the Indians could muster against Baker.
"I think we need to bear down. Maybe there is too much thinking, and we just need to play, relax, believe in ourselves," Casey Blake said. "This offense is good. Good things will happen for us. It's not the job of just one guy. The whole group needs to do it."
Cleveland's best chance came with pinch-runner Jamey Carroll on second base with one out in the ninth. But Carlos Gomez made a brilliant diving catch of a flare by Ryan Garko to shallow center field, and Gutierrez just missed an extra-base hit when his line drive off Pat Neshek landed inches outside the left-field foul line before he blooped out to shortstop.
"I think our hitting is going to get going," Byrd said. "It is just a matter of time. I don't think you press the panic button or anything, but I think you realize the games are important and you have to win games."
Morneau had a chance to put the Twins ahead when he came to the plate with two outs in the eighth, but the big Canadian lefty chased a slider and was only too happy to get another crack at it.
"In the ninth inning I want to be up there. In the 10th inning, I want to be up there with that winning run on base," Morneau said. "You have to have the confidence and prepare yourself for that at-bat and say, 'All right, now I want to win the game."'
Twins right fielder Jason Kubel hit a foul ball in the first inning that ricocheted off a speaker hanging on the third-base side. Third baseman Casey Blake caught the ball, but per the rules, it was out of play once it touched the speaker. Kubel eventually struck out. ... Jim Rosenhaus made his MLB debut as the Indians radio play-by-play man on WTAM, filling in for Tom Hamilton, who was attending his son's high school baseball game.
|Players of the Game|
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|Grady Sizemore, CF||5||0||1||0||0||1||1||.260|
|David Dellucci, LF||3||0||1||0||0||0||0||.257|
|a- Jason Michaels, PH-LF||2||0||0||0||0||1||1||.125|
|Travis Hafner, DH||4||0||1||0||0||1||3||.229|
|Victor Martinez, C||4||0||2||0||0||0||2||.360|
|Jamey Carroll, PR||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.222|
|Kelly Shoppach, C||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.280|
|Jhonny Peralta, SS||3||1||0||0||0||1||2||.227|
|Ryan Garko, 1B||4||0||0||0||0||1||2||.297|
|Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B||2||0||0||0||2||1||0||.193|
|Franklin Gutierrez, RF||4||0||1||1||0||1||2||.203|
|Casey Blake, 3B||3||0||0||0||1||2||2||.179|
|a-hit into fielder's choice for Dellucci in the 8th|
|2B - Travis Hafner (3, Baker)|
|SH - Jhonny Peralta (1)|
|RBI - Franklin Gutierrez (5)|
|2-OUT RBI - Franklin Gutierrez (2)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|Rafael Perez (L,0-1)||2||4||1||1||1||1||0||5.19|
|Pitches-Strikes - Paul Byrd 85-62, Masahide Kobayashi 12-8, Rafael Perez 34-20|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Paul Byrd 7-10, Masahide Kobayashi 1-1, Rafael Perez 4-1|
|Batters Faced - Paul Byrd 26, Masahide Kobayashi 3, Rafael Perez 11|
|Carlos Gomez, CF||5||0||0||0||0||0||0||.244|
|Brendan Harris, 2B||5||2||3||1||0||0||1||.322|
|Jason Kubel, RF||4||0||2||0||1||1||1||.266|
|Justin Morneau, DH||5||0||2||1||0||1||3||.269|
|Delmon Young, LF||4||0||0||0||0||1||2||.236|
|Brian Buscher, 3B-1B||4||0||1||0||0||0||0||.250|
|Mike Redmond, C||4||0||1||0||0||1||1||.100|
|Mike Lamb, 1B||3||0||0||0||0||0||1||.145|
|a- Craig Monroe, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.231|
|Matt Tolbert, 3B||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.400|
|Nick Punto, SS||4||0||2||0||0||0||0||.300|
|a-hit into fielder's choice for Lamb in the 9th|
|2B - Brian Buscher (1, Byrd)|
|HR - Brendan Harris (1, Byrd)|
|RBI - Brendan Harris (4), Justin Morneau (16)|
|2-OUT RBI - Brendan Harris (3), Justin Morneau (5)|
|CS - Nick Punto (1, 2nd base by Byrd/Martinez)|
|Team LOB - 9|
|DP - Harris-Punto-Lamb|
|Matt Guerrier (W,1-1)||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||5.23|
|IBB - A. Cabrera by Pat Neshek|
|WP - Dennys Reyes (1)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Scott Baker 100-69, Dennys Reyes 19-11, Pat Neshek 18-9, Matt Guerrier 16-10|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Scott Baker 5-7, Dennys Reyes 1-2, Pat Neshek 1-2|
|Batters Faced - Scott Baker 26, Dennys Reyes 5, Pat Neshek 4, Matt Guerrier 3|
|Attendance - 27703|
|Game Time - 3:04|
|Temperature - 69|
|Umpires - Home - Rob Drake, First Base - Ron Kulpa, Second Base - Dan Iassogna, Third Base - Dale Scott|