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Cleveland (62-90)100000000160
Minnesota (92-60) «00000320x5100

Playoff-bound Twins rest regulars, still sweep Indians

CBSSports.com wire reports
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MINNEAPOLIS -- A division title secured, the Minnesota Twins are not letting up.

The Twins rested most of their regulars and beat the Cleveland Indians 5-1 Wednesday behind the pitching of Nick Blackburn to complete a three-game sweep.

More on Twins

Minnesota, which clinched its sixth AL Central title in nine years late Tuesday, started the day one game behind the New York Yankees for best home record in the league.

"With home-field advantage still at stake, these guys are going to play," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It doesn't matter who I put out there, you're going to get a great effort. That's the way is around here. ... I expect that of all of them and I think they expect that of themselves."

Blackburn (10-10) became the sixth Minnesota pitcher to reach double digits in victories, allowing one run and five hits in seven innings.

Jose Morales drove in three runs and Alexi Casilla had three hits for Minnesota, which has won nine of 11 and improved its record at new Target Field to 52-25. The Twins have sold out 74 straight home games and set a season home attendance record with 3,063,327, topping their 1988 mark.

Carlos Carrasco (1-1) allowed three runs and six hits in six innings for Cleveland, which lost its 90th game.

Gardenhire said Francisco Liriano will get the start when Minnesota opens the AL playoffs next month.

"He's been winging it pretty good," Gardenhire said.

Liriano is 14-8 with a 3.44 ERA in 29 starts, including 6-1 in his past 10. The left-hander will have six days' rest between his final regular season and first playoff starts.

Carl Pavano is scheduled to pitch Game 2, followed by Brian Duensing. Blackburn will be the fourth starter if the Twins use a four-man rotation.

"I'm not going to be mad if I don't make the rotation, I'll just be disappointed in what led up to me not being there," said Blackburn, who retired his last 13 batters, getting his final one when he stopped Chris Gimenez's grounder with a foot and threw to first.

"To be able to come back and throw the ball the way I am right now is definitely big for me, a good confidence builder. It kind of reminds me that I can be successful at this level and get guys out," he said.

Blackburn was 1-6 with a 10.05 ERA in 10 games before his July 30 demotion. He has pitched at least seven innings in six straight starts since being recalled from Triple-A, allowing 10 earned runs in 45 2/3 innings. Opponents are hitting .213 against him in that stretch.

"In the first place, you have to pitch with confidence and he's doing that," Gardenhire said. "His changeup came back to him and he used it a lot when he was down there. That gave him a good feel."

Blackburn gave up all five of his hits in the first two innings, including Shelley Duncan's RBI single in the first. Blackburn struck out Jayson Nix with two on in the first, and Drew Sutton hit into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the second.

"The whole story in the series was basically that we struggled offensively to push runners across the plate and give our guys some breathing room," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "We didn't do that and they showed why they won the division."

Minnesota went ahead in a three-run sixth on RBI doubles by Morales and Matt Tolbert followed by Ben Revere's run-scoring single off Carrasco. Morales added a two-run single in the seventh off Aaron Laffey.

"I tried to be a little bit more perfect. When I do that, everything is up," Carrasco said.

Morales played first base for the first time in his major or minor league career, and looked as though he'd been there for a long time when he made two diving stops.

"They were hard hit," he said, grinning wide. "There was just no time to think, I just had to react."

Notes

  • Revere got his first start in left field for Minnesota.
  • Cleveland SS Asdrubal Cabrera pinch-ran in the eighth inning for Cleveland. He missed Tuesday's game because of a strained left wrist.
  • Four of Tolbert's last five hits have been for extra bases.
 
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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A day after becoming the first to punch their playoff ticket, the Twins finish off the Indians for good measure. (AP)
A day after becoming the first to punch their playoff ticket, the Twins finish off the Indians for good measure. (AP)

Players of the Game
Minnesota

J. Morales
AB 3
R 1
H 2
HR 0
RBI 3
Minnesota

N. Blackburn
IP 7.0
H 5
ER 1
BB 2
K 2
 

Related Video

Cleveland Indians
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Michael Brantley, CF4010010 .236
Drew Sutton, SS3100101 .346
Shin-Soo Choo, RF3000101 .292
Travis Hafner, DH3020100 .276
    Asdrubal Cabrera, PR-DH0000000 .263
Shelley Duncan, LF4011013 .232
Jayson Nix, 3B3000113 .225
Matt LaPorta, 1B4010001 .222
Luis Valbuena, 2B4010000 .184
Chris Gimenez, C4000003 .182
Totals3216143  
Batting
RBI - Shelley Duncan (32)
2-OUT RBI - Shelley Duncan (14)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Shin-Soo Choo 1
DP - Sutton-LaPorta
Cleveland Indians
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Carlos Carrasco (L,1-1) 6633340 3.03
Aaron Laffey 1322000 4.70
Jensen Lewis 1100000 3.24
HBP - Butera (by Carlos Carrasco)
Pitches-Strikes - Carlos Carrasco 91-53, Aaron Laffey 15-11, Jensen Lewis 5-4
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Carlos Carrasco 7-6, Aaron Laffey 2-0, Jensen Lewis 1-1
Batters Faced - Carlos Carrasco 27, Aaron Laffey 5, Jensen Lewis 3
Minnesota Twins
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Denard Span, CF3000001 .266
Alexi Casilla, SS4230001 .279
Jason Kubel, DH4010023 .252
    Trevor Plouffe, PR-DH0100000 .121
Danny Valencia, 3B4000012 .332
Jose Morales, 1B3123100 .273
Matt Tolbert, 2B4121001 .250
Ben Revere, LF3011101 .200
Jason Repko, RF3010112 .217
Drew Butera, C2000003 .194
Totals30510534  
Batting
2B - Jose Morales (1, Carrasco), Matt Tolbert (4, Carrasco)
3B - Alexi Casilla (4, Carrasco)
SH - Denard Span (10)
RBI - Jose Morales 3 (7), Matt Tolbert (18), Ben Revere (2)
2-OUT RBI - Jose Morales 3 (3), Matt Tolbert (12), Ben Revere (1)
SB - Alexi Casilla (6, 2nd base off Carrasco/Gimenez), Jason Repko (3, 2nd base off Carrasco/Gimenez)
CS - Ben Revere (1, 2nd base by Carrasco/Gimenez)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
DP - Tolbert-Casilla-Morales
Minnesota Twins
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Nick Blackburn (W,10-10) 7511220 5.23
Brian Fuentes 1100110 3.09
Matt Guerrier 1000100 3.41
WP - Nick Blackburn (3)
Pitches-Strikes - Nick Blackburn 89-55, Brian Fuentes 21-11, Matt Guerrier 15-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Nick Blackburn 12-6, Matt Guerrier 2-1
Batters Faced - Nick Blackburn 27, Brian Fuentes 5, Matt Guerrier 4
Game Information
Attendance - 40139
Game Time - 2:22
Temperature - 60
Umpires - Home - Sam Holbrook, First Base - Greg Gibson, Second Base - Brian Knight, Third Base - Gerry Davis