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Cleveland at Minnesota

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Cleveland (62-89)1000120004100
Minnesota (91-60) «01000104x6121

Twins rally, clinch AL Central after White Sox lose

CBSSports.com wire reports
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MINNEAPOLIS -- No need for a 163rd game in the AL Central division this year.

The Minnesota Twins have this baby wrapped up with plenty of time to spare.

Denard Span's RBI single highlighted a four-run eighth inning to rally the Twins to a 6-4 victory against the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night.

The thrilling, come-from-behind victory coupled with the Chicago White Sox's 7-2 loss in Oakland to make the Twins the first team in the majors to clinch a division title this season.

Postseason Chase

Thus began a wild celebration at brand new Target Field, complete with champagne showers and beer baths in what used to be a pristine clubhouse.

"It never gets old, that's for sure," first baseman Michael Cuddyer said of the team's sixth division title in nine seasons. "It feels really special. We're going to enjoy it right now, but we still have some stuff we want to do. And it's nice to have 11 days to figure out how we're going to do it."

This is the first time in three years that the AL Central race hasn't gone into overtime.

The Twins lost to the White Sox in Game 163 in 2008 to miss out on the postseason, then capped a rally from seven games down in September last year by beating the Detroit Tigers in a one-game playoff to get in. But they didn't have much energy left after the exhausting run and were swept by the Yankees in the first round.

"I think hopefully this will give us an opportunity to think about the postseason and get ourselves mentally and physically ready," Span said.

Jim Thome hit a solo home run and Danny Valencia had two hits and an RBI for the Twins, who got manager Ron Gardenhire his 800th career victory despite being stymied by Indians starter Fausto Carmona for the first five innings.

The big lefty gave up the solo home run to Thome in the second inning, but was breezing through the Twins lineup for the second time in his past three starts before running into trouble in the sixth.

He walked Thome and gave up a single to Delmon Young before Valencia chased him with an RBI single to cut the deficit to 4-2. Carmona gave up two runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings.

Career HR Leaders
PlayerTotal
1. Barry Bonds762
2. Hank Aaron755
3. Babe Ruth714
4. Willie Mays660
5. Ken Griffey Jr.630
6. Sammy Sosa609
7. Alex Rodriguez-y608
8. Jim Thome-y589
9. Frank Robinson586
10. Mark McGwire583

The Twins trailed the Indians 4-2 in the eighth on Tuesday night. But Young had an RBI double and pinch-hitter Jose Morales added the game-tying sacrifice fly before Span's single scored Valencia for the lead. Orlando Hudson added an RBI double to finish off the burst.

"Each guy stayed focus, each guy stepped up and really just beared down," said Thome, who hit career home run No. 589. "It's been a fun, fun year. I've had so much fun playing here. It's been awesome."

With a day game on Wednesday and the White Sox and A's playing late, the Twins originally planned to go home after the game and save the celebrating for another day. But once they saw the White Sox down 5-2 in the seventh inning, they decided to stick around Target Field and go a little wild.

"Those guys aren't going to let me go home," Gardenhire said immediately after their game ended.

Hudson donned oversized goggles to navigate the champagne geysers and exchanged bear hugs with Joe Mauer while Thome, a 40-year-old kid on this night, soaked the entire room with garbage cans of water as techno music rattled the walls.

A couple hundred fans gathered near the home dugout to count down the outs in the White Sox game, and the players poured out onto the field to party with a fan base that has packed Target Field with more than 3 million fans for only the second time in team history.

It was the perfect clinching victory for a team that has fought through injuries and come back from deficits all season long.

Nick Punto was inserted into the lineup 40 minutes before first pitch after starting shortstop J.J. Hardy had a migraine headache and Drew Butera filled in at catcher for Mauer, who missed his second successive game with a sore left knee.

An MRI revealed no structural damage and the team was considering giving Mauer a cortisone shot, which would keep him out for four or five days.

It has been that way all season long for the Twins (91-60), who have overcome injury after injury and gone 44-18 since the All-Star break to run away with the crown. All-Star closer Joe Nathan was lost for the year in spring training, All-Star first baseman Justin Morneau has been out for more than two months with a concussion and Hardy, second baseman Hudson, right fielder Jason Kubel and starters Scott Baker and Kevin Slowey have all missed big chunks of time with various injuries.

Michael Cuddyer moved from right field to first base to fill in for Morneau, Valencia emerged as the everyday third baseman, Matt Capps was acquired as the closer and Brian Duensing moved from the bullpen to the rotation to stabilize that group.

"I think everybody in here knows it's not just one or two guys that make us successful," Mauer said. "Obviously Nathan and Morneau have been huge parts of that, but guys are picking each other up. We're back to where we want to be.

Justin Masterson (6-13) allowed three runs and three hits in two-thirds of an inning for the Indians.

Glen Perkins (1-1) pitched one scoreless inning for the victory and Capps picked up his 15th save for the Twins and 41st of the year.

Baker gave up two runs -- one earned -- and four hits with seven strikeouts and one walk in five innings in his first start since Sept. 2.

Travis Hafner and Drew Sutton had two hits and an RBI each for Cleveland.

"They're a good team," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "It's not that they win when they have to win. They just win more than any other team in our division because they're good. They're deep and they're good."

Notes

  • The Twins had 39,580 fans in attendance on a cool night. The 73rd consecutive sellout of brand new Target Field put the team over 3 million fans for the second time in team history.
  • Thome is the ninth player in league history with 14 seasons of at least 25 home runs.
  • Indians SS Asdrubal Cabrera missed the game with a strained left wrist. He was injured on Monday night, but X-rays were negative and he is day-to-day.
 
Copyright 2014 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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Twins backup catcher Drew Butera celebrates the divisional title with fans after the Athletics defeat the White Sox.  (AP)
Twins backup catcher Drew Butera celebrates the divisional title with fans after the Athletics defeat the White Sox. (AP)

Players of the Game
Cleveland

T. Hafner
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 0
RBI 1
Minnesota

J. Thome
AB 3
R 2
H 2
HR 1
RBI 1
 
Cleveland Indians
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Michael Brantley, CF5110010 .236
Drew Sutton, SS4021020 .391
Shin-Soo Choo, RF2100122 .294
Travis Hafner, DH4121002 .273
Jordan Brown, 1B4120001 .239
Andy Marte, 3B4010002 .229
Trevor Crowe, LF4010012 .251
Luis Valbuena, 2B4011010 .183
Lou Marson, C3000021 .198
   a- Shelley Duncan, PH1000000 .232
Totals35410319  
a-flied out for Marson in the 9th
Batting
2B - Travis Hafner (29, Baker), Luis Valbuena (10, Mijares)
RBI - Drew Sutton (6), Travis Hafner (44), Luis Valbuena (23)
2-OUT RBI - Drew Sutton (5), Travis Hafner (14), Luis Valbuena (13)
CS - Trevor Crowe (6, 2nd base by Perkins/Butera)
Team LOB - 6
Cleveland Indians
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Fausto Carmona 5.2622231 3.79
Rafael Perez (H,13) 1100100 3.38
Justin Masterson (H,1; L,6-13) 0.2333000 4.78
Tony Sipp (BS,2) 0.2211000 4.20
Pitches-Strikes - Fausto Carmona 98-61, Rafael Perez 20-13, Justin Masterson 19-13, Tony Sipp 10-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Fausto Carmona 11-3, Rafael Perez 2-1, Justin Masterson 1-1
Batters Faced - Fausto Carmona 25, Rafael Perez 5, Justin Masterson 5, Tony Sipp 4
Minnesota Twins
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Denard Span, CF5121011 .267
Orlando Hudson, 2B4011102 .273
Jason Kubel, RF4000104 .252
    Jason Repko, RF0000000 .214
Michael Cuddyer, 1B4000014 .272
Jim Thome, DH3221100 .280
    Trevor Plouffe, PR-DH0100000 .121
Delmon Young, LF4121010 .299
Danny Valencia, 3B4121000 .337
Nick Punto, SS4010004 .249
Drew Butera, C3020001 .197
   a- Jose Morales, PH-C0001000 .211
Totals35612633  
a-hit a sacrifice fly for Butera in the 8th
Batting
2B - Denard Span (23, Carmona), Orlando Hudson (23, Sipp), Delmon Young (42, Masterson), Nick Punto (11, Carmona), Drew Butera (6, R. Perez)
HR - Jim Thome (25, Carmona)
SF - Jose Morales (2)
RBI - Denard Span (57), Orlando Hudson (36), Jim Thome (59), Delmon Young (105), Danny Valencia (35), Jose Morales (4)
2-OUT RBI - Denard Span (29), Orlando Hudson (14), Danny Valencia (13)
Team LOB - 9
Fielding
DP - Punto-Hudson-Cuddyer
E - Drew Butera (4, Throwing)
Minnesota Twins
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Scott Baker 5421170 4.52
Jose Mijares 0.2422000 3.21
Jon Rauch 1.1100010 3.20
Glen Perkins (W,1-1) 1100000 5.51
Matt Capps (S,41) 1000010 2.57
HBP - Choo (by Scott Baker)
WP - Scott Baker 2 (7)
Pitches-Strikes - Scott Baker 91-54, Jose Mijares 25-15, Jon Rauch 23-15, Glen Perkins 13-10, Matt Capps 13-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jose Mijares 1-0, Jon Rauch 1-2, Glen Perkins 1-1
Batters Faced - Scott Baker 21, Jose Mijares 5, Jon Rauch 5, Glen Perkins 3, Matt Capps 3
Game Information
Attendance - 39580
Game Time - 3:08
Temperature - 66
Umpires - Home - Gerry Davis, First Base - Sam Holbrook, Second Base - Greg Gibson, Third Base - Brian Knight