Cleveland at Minnesota

Scoreboard
Cleveland (61-84)0000002103121
Minnesota (74-72) «00131020x7120

Cuddyer anchors offense as Twins complete sweep of Indians

CBSSports.com wire reports
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Michael Cuddyer is a bit surprised the Minnesota Twins have overcome so much and are still in the pennant race.

He's a big reason why.

Cuddyer homered, doubled and drove in three runs Wednesday and the Twins beat the Cleveland Indians 7-3 for a three-game sweep.

Joe Mauer singled twice, raising his major league-leading average to .374, and drove in two runs as the Twins won their fourth in a row.

Just two games over .500, Minnesota began the day 4½ games behind Detroit in the AL Central. The Tigers were home Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon against Kansas City, then visit the Metrodome for a three-game set beginning Friday.

"The way we've played this year, it's amazing we still have a chance and it's sitting in front of us," said Cuddyer, who has replaced the injured Justin Morneau at first base, and is 8 for 16 in those four games. "At this point we need everybody to contribute. Even the guys that are hurt we need them to cheer us on."

It's been like that much of the year.

Mauer missed the first month of the season, and Minnesota's starting rotation has been in flux nearly all season, including the absence of Kevin Slowey since July 4.

  Playoff Race

"It's fun to watch. Matt Tolbert's getting out there and battling and covering ground at third base, (Orlando) Cabrera seems to always put some good swings on the ball, Nick Punto's been playing a lot better," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "(Denard) Span's been there and Cuddy and Mauer. ... The rest of them have to step up and do things, and that's what's been happening."

Now comes the first of seven remaining games with the Tigers.

"We get the first three here and we need to take advantage of that," outfielder Jason Kubel said.

Matt LaPorta homered and had three RBI for Cleveland, which has lost four in a row and 13 of 16.

Nick Blackburn (10-11) surrendered two earned runs and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings for his second win in 12 starts since the All-Star break. He lowered his second-half ERA from 7.36 to 6.90.

Joe Nathan struck out the final two batters for his 41st save in 46 chances.

Cuddyer homered leading off the fifth and added an RBI double in the seventh. The home run was the second in three games for Cuddyer, who hit a three-run shot to lead Monday's 6-3 comeback win.

Blackburn came up with his third solid start in four outings. The lone blip was last Friday, when he allowed six earned runs in three innings against Oakland.

Blackburn retired the Indians in order three times in the first four innings, and escaped a two-on, no-out jam in the fifth when Kelly Shoppach grounded into a double play and Trevor Crowe grounded out.

"He threw more curveballs in the first two or three innings than he did in his entire last start, although he was still up in the zone too much," Gardenhire said.

For the second consecutive start, Aaron Laffey (7-6) gave up six earned runs and a career-high 12 hits. His own mistake put him behind.

With two outs in the third, Laffey dropped a soft toss covering first base for an error. Cuddyer followed with an RBI single for a 1-0 lead.

Laffey walked No. 9 hitter Punto with two outs in the fourth. Span followed with an RBI single, and Mauer had a two-run single two batters later for a 4-0 lead.

"I didn't feel like we played well at all behind him," Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said. "We made some poor decisions on cutoffs, decisions where we could have taken the out that would have saved us two or three runs easy."

LaPorta hit a two-run shot in the seventh and added an RBI single in the eighth before Shoppach popped out with the bases loaded.

"It's important not to give in right now," LaPorta said. "It doesn't matter what the situation is around you. That's part of being a man ... is finishing strong. Just come out here every day and try and get better for the ballclub."

Notes

  • Mauer has established a career-high with 87 RBI.
  • This was Minnesota's seventh series sweep of the year.
  • Cleveland is a season-worst 23 games under .500.
  • Indians SS Asdrubal Cabrera left the game after fouling a pitch off his right knee in the ninth inning. He is listed as day to day with a contusion.
 
Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Michael Cuddyer hits a home run and a double and finishes with three RBI for the playoff-hopeful Twins. (AP)
Michael Cuddyer hits a home run and a double and finishes with three RBI for the playoff-hopeful Twins. (AP)

Players of the Game
Minnesota

M. Cuddyer
AB 4
R 2
H 3
HR 1
RBI 3
Cleveland

M. LaPorta
AB 4
R 1
H 3
HR 1
RBI 3
 

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Cleveland Indians
Michael Brantley, CF5020011 .328
Asdrubal Cabrera, SS3100102 .306
   a- Jamey Carroll, PH1000000 .294
Shin-Soo Choo, RF5020022 .301
Jhonny Peralta, 3B5000024 .272
Travis Hafner, DH4110002 .275
Matt LaPorta, 1B4133010 .261
Luis Valbuena, 2B3010100 .238
Kelly Shoppach, C4020004 .214
Trevor Crowe, LF4010003 .226
Totals38312326  
a-grounded out for A. Cabrera in the 9th
Batting
2B - Shin-Soo Choo (34, Blackburn), Travis Hafner (17, Blackburn)
HR - Matt LaPorta (6, Blackburn)
RBI - Matt LaPorta 3 (17)
2-OUT RBI - Matt LaPorta (4)
Team LOB - 10
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Trevor Crowe 1
DP - A. Cabrera-Valbuena-LaPorta
E - Aaron Laffey (1, Missed catch of throw)
Cleveland Indians
Aaron Laffey (L,7-6) 61276301 4.09
Jess Todd 1000000 10.47
Rafael Perez 1000000 7.50
Pitches-Strikes - Aaron Laffey 98-63, Jess Todd 18-11, Rafael Perez 11-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Aaron Laffey 11-6, Jess Todd 2-1, Rafael Perez 3-0
Batters Faced - Aaron Laffey 32, Jess Todd 3, Rafael Perez 3
Minnesota Twins
Denard Span, CF-RF5121000 .307
Orlando Cabrera, SS4000101 .269
Joe Mauer, DH3122100 .374
Jason Kubel, RF4010003 .302
    Carlos Gomez, PR-CF0100000 .236
Michael Cuddyer, 1B4233000 .274
Delmon Young, LF4000001 .262
Jose Morales, C3121000 .361
Matt Tolbert, 3B4020001 .206
Nick Punto, 2B3100103 .230
Totals34712730  
Batting
2B - Michael Cuddyer (33, Laffey), Jose Morales 2 (6, Laffey, Laffey), Matt Tolbert (4, Laffey)
HR - Michael Cuddyer (26, Laffey)
SF - Jose Morales (1)
RBI - Denard Span (59), Joe Mauer 2 (87), Michael Cuddyer 3 (78), Jose Morales (7)
2-OUT RBI - Denard Span (19), Joe Mauer 2 (33), Michael Cuddyer (22)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
DP - Cabrera-Punto-Cuddyer
Minnesota Twins
Nick Blackburn (W,10-11) 6.1822031 4.34
Jose Mijares (H,23) 1.1111110 2.20
Jesse Crain0100100 5.23
Matt Guerrier (H,30) 0.2200000 2.22
Joe Nathan (S,41) 0.2000020 2.25
Pitches-Strikes - Nick Blackburn 91-63, Jose Mijares 22-11, Jesse Crain 12-5, Matt Guerrier 21-13, Joe Nathan 12-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Nick Blackburn 8-7, Matt Guerrier 1-1
Batters Faced - Nick Blackburn 26, Jose Mijares 6, Jesse Crain 2, Matt Guerrier 4, Joe Nathan 2
Game Information
Attendance - 16921
Game Time - 2:57
Temperature - 70
Umpires - Home - Field Culbreth, First Base - Jeff Nelson, Second Base - Adrian Johnson, Third Base - Gary Cederstrom