|Minnesota (77-56) «||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||1||2||6||0|
MINNEAPOLIS -- Danny Valencia is a rookie who doesn't lack confidence. Consider the T-shirt the proud University of Miami product was wearing after the game, blaring "The 'U' invented swagger" on the front.
Minnesota's up-and-coming third baseman couldn't have expected to do this well, though.
|More on Tigers at Twins|
Valencia is batting .332 with 16 doubles, two homers and 24 RBI in 208 at-bats, one of a handful of first-year players thrust into action this season.
"We need 'em. That's for sure. Especially now, with all the injuries we've had to endure in the past two months," Cuddyer said. "For him to come up and fill in nicely is huge."
The Twins kept their four-game lead over Chicago in the AL Central, improving to 7-1 against the Tigers at Target Field, despite nine strikeouts and only four hits allowed in a career-high nine innings by Detroit starter Max Scherzer.
With the hard-throwing Ryan Perry (2-5) pitching, Cuddyer singled to start the inning and stole second base while Delmon Young struck out. Then Valencia, whose single in the fifth helped the Twins score their first run against Scherzer, smacked a single to center on a 3-2 count that was deep enough for Cuddyer to score standing up just before the throw from Austin Jackson.
"I knew I'd be able to play up here obviously, but to do this well it's pretty surreal," Valencia said. "I'm just happy the way it's going right now."
Jon Rauch (3-1) pitched a perfect 10th for the victory that should've gone to Francisco Liriano, who kept up his strong second half with seven shutout innings by powerfully and masterfully working his way out of men-on situations in the first, third, fourth, fifth and seventh.
He's 6-0 with a 2.17 ERA in nine starts after the All-Star break. Extra rest he's been given between turns recently has clearly helped.
"I feel way better," Liriano said.
The second half hasn't been as much fun for Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who hasn't had a winning record in games after the All-Star break since his World Series championship season with Florida in 1997. Leyland lamented some of the mistakes by a handful of youngsters playing more because of various injuries.
"They press a little bit," he said. "We've got them throughout the lineup and that's going to happen, but we have to just keep grinding it. They'll learn at some point in their careers."
Lately at least, the pitching staff has picked it up for the Tigers.
In their last 12 games, the starters have a 1.81 ERA and a 7-1 record with 11 quality starts of six innings or more and three earned runs or less. The Tigers are 7-5 in that stretch.
Young doubled for the Twins' first hit and scored on a sacrifice fly by Jose Morales in the fifth inning against Scherzer, who has allowed one run or less in six of his last seven starts with just two given up in the other one.
"He's got a tremendous mound presence right now," Leyland said. "He's one of the better pitchers in the league."
Scherzer finished strong, getting Valencia on a weak pop out to second and striking out Morales and Jason Repko in the perfect eighth. In the ninth, after pinch-hitter Jim Thome's sharp single, Scherzer retired Joe Mauer on a fly to left with nobody warming up in the bullpen until Perry readied for the 10th.
"It was one of the best games I've thrown in the big leagues, and it doesn't feel right," Scherzer said. "We didn't win. I'm so tied to how this team does."
Liriano was just as impressive, striking out Gerald Laird, with the fans on their feet, to finish the seventh with one on.
Jackson started the eighth with a single against Jesse Crain, but Will Rhymes popped up his bunt attempt and Randy Flores came in to strike out pinch-hitter Ryan Raburn. Matt Guerrier walked Cabrera, and Jhonny Peralta's single to left field tied the game.
That was only the second earned run charged to Crain in his last 35 appearances. Guerrier, however, had a 5.27 ERA in August.
|Michael Cuddyer (center) gets mobbed by teammates after he scores the winning run off a 10th-inning hit by Danny Valencia. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
|Austin Jackson, CF||5||1||2||0||0||1||2||.305|
|Will Rhymes, 2B||5||0||1||0||0||0||4||.314|
|Casper Wells, LF||3||0||1||0||0||0||1||.370|
|a- Johnny Damon, PH||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.268|
|b- Ryan Raburn, PH-LF||2||0||0||0||0||1||1||.247|
|Miguel Cabrera, 1B||3||0||0||0||1||1||1||.338|
|Jhonny Peralta, DH||4||0||2||1||0||2||0||.251|
|Brandon Inge, 3B||4||0||0||0||0||2||4||.251|
|Ramon Santiago, SS||2||0||0||0||1||0||2||.271|
|Brennan Boesch, RF||2||0||1||0||1||1||1||.270|
|Gerald Laird, C||2||0||0||0||0||1||1||.202|
|c- Alex Avila, PH-C||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.214|
|a-announced for Wells in the 8th|
|b-struck out for Damon in the 8th|
|c-struck out for Laird in the 9th|
|2B - Austin Jackson (30, Liriano)|
|SH - Gerald Laird (4)|
|RBI - Jhonny Peralta (63)|
|2-OUT RBI - Jhonny Peralta (26)|
|CS - Ramon Santiago (1, 2nd base by Capps/Mauer)|
|Team LOB - 8|
|Outfield Assists - Austin Jackson 1|
|DP - Jackson-Santiago-Cabrera, Santiago-Cabrera, Santiago-Rhymes-Cabrera|
|E - Brennan Boesch (9, Dropped fly)|
|Ryan Perry (L,2-5)||0.1||2||1||1||0||1||0||4.40|
|Pitches-Strikes - Max Scherzer 106-76, Ryan Perry 17-10|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Max Scherzer 8-8|
|Batters Faced - Max Scherzer 30, Ryan Perry 3|
|Denard Span, CF||3||0||0||0||1||1||1||.268|
|Alexi Casilla, 2B||3||0||0||0||0||1||1||.274|
|a- Jim Thome, PH||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||.270|
|Matt Tolbert, PR-2B||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.220|
|Joe Mauer, C||4||0||1||0||0||0||1||.327|
|Michael Cuddyer, 1B||4||1||1||0||0||1||1||.273|
|Delmon Young, LF||4||1||1||0||0||2||1||.307|
|Danny Valencia, 3B||4||0||2||1||0||1||0||.332|
|Jose Morales, DH||2||0||0||1||0||2||0||.000|
|Jason Repko, RF||3||0||0||0||0||2||0||.214|
|J.J. Hardy, SS||3||0||0||0||0||0||0||.256|
|a-singled for Casilla in the 9th|
|2B - Delmon Young (37, Scherzer)|
|SF - Jose Morales (1)|
|RBI - Danny Valencia (24), Jose Morales (1)|
|SB - Michael Cuddyer (6, 2nd base off Perry/Avila)|
|Team LOB - 3|
|Outfield Assists - Delmon Young 1|
|DP - Young-Cuddyer, Hardy-Cuddyer|
|Jesse Crain (H,17)||0.1||1||1||1||0||0||0||2.70|
|Randy Flores (H,7)||0.1||0||0||0||0||1||0||2.86|
|Matt Guerrier (BS,5)||0.1||1||0||0||1||0||0||3.47|
|Jon Rauch (W,3-1)||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||3.33|
|HBP - Santiago (by Francisco Liriano), Boesch (by Francisco Liriano)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Francisco Liriano 104-62, Jesse Crain 9-7, Randy Flores 4-3, Matt Guerrier 13-7, Matt Capps 14-7, Jon Rauch 4-4|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Francisco Liriano 7-5, Matt Guerrier 1-0, Jon Rauch 1-2|
|Batters Faced - Francisco Liriano 27, Jesse Crain 2, Randy Flores 1, Matt Guerrier 3, Matt Capps 3, Jon Rauch 3|
|Attendance - 39438|
|Game Time - 2:50|
|Temperature - 74|
|Umpires - Home - Angel Hernandez, First Base - Dan Bellino, Second Base - Rob Drake, Third Base - Joe West|