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Casilla's walk-off single continues Twins' resurgence

CBSSports.com wire reports
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Alexi Casilla came through with yet another clutch hit for the Minnesota Twins.

After a two-month swoon, June has brought new life to this banged-up and once-bumbling bunch.

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Casilla laced a single to left field to drive in the winning run with two outs in the ninth inning and lift the Twins to a 5-4 victory against the Texas Rangers on a windy, chilly Thursday night at Target Field.

For Casilla, suddenly one of the team's hottest hitters, it was his fifth career "walk-off" hit. The most famous, of course, came in 2009 when he beat the Detroit Tigers in the 163rd game to break the tie in the American League Central and send the Twins to the playoffs.

"I love these situations. Myself, I just try to calm down, don't get too excited," Casilla said. "I'm looking for a good pitch to hit."

Luke Hughes led off the ninth with a double off Mark Lowe (1-0) that a fan picked up before the Rangers could play it. They complained, to no avail.

Arthur Rhodes came in to get the second out, but Casilla hit an opposite-field line drive that was plenty deep enough for Hughes to score.

"You get that feeling that he's going to bang the ball somewhere. There's a lot of different ways he can get a hit," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He put a nice swing on that one."

Jim Hoey (1-2) finished the ninth for the victory.

Rangers starter Derek Holland gave up a solo shot in the second inning to Delmon Young, only his second this season, and a three-run homer to Michael Cuddyer in the fifth to the back of the bullpen measured at 443 feet that made the grounds crew guys jump up to avoid getting hit.

"We've got some energy. We've got some life," Cuddyer said.

Twins starter Nick Blackburn was hurt by two errors, one of them his, in a two-run sixth by the Rangers. He also gave up huge home runs to Josh Hamilton (an estimated 441 feet) and Nelson Cruz (450 feet), which tied the game with one out in the eighth.

Holland matched his career high with 10 strikeouts over 7 1/3 innings. He might've even avoided facing Cuddyer in the fifth, had second base umpire Paul Nauert not missed the tag shortstop Elvis Andrus made on Rene Rivera trying to retreat on a bouncer hit right at him.

Rivera was retired on the next play at third base when Adrian Beltre grabbed Ben Revere's bunt and made a snap, off-balance throw to get the lead runner, but it's impossible to determine how that inning would've developed had Rivera been out the first time. Rangers manager Ron Washington argued with Nauert for a while.

The Twins no longer have the worst mark in the majors, either, moving a half-game ahead of Houston. The Twins raised their record at home to a mere 7-15, on the heels of going 53-28 at Target Field last season.

Blackburn rebounded from a shortened start last week by tightness in his back, looking fine over 109 pitches five days later, save for the soaring and costly home runs by Hamilton and Cruz.

Blackburn's ERA remains the best on Minnesota's starting staff, 3.47, and he hasn't lost since April 28. Blackburn struck out six and surrendered 10 hits and one walk in those 7 1/3 innings. Only two of the four runs were earned, though they were partially his fault, thanks to a too-high throw on Hamilton's dribbler back to the mound leading off the sixth that paved the way for the Rangers to pull to 4-3.

Blackburn was most disgusted, though, in the eighth on his 1-0 changeup to Cruz. He whipped his body away from the field toward his dugout while Cruz jogged around the bases with his 15th home run. Young didn't bother watching, either, as the ball soared into the third deck, a half-dozen rows up.

"That might've been the longest home run I've ever seen hit," Rangers second baseman Michael Young said. "Strong man. Strong man. We're lucky. We get to see that a lot."

The Twins are just glad they have a better performance to put out there.

"Lately, it's been fun to watch," Casilla said.

Said Gardenhire: "You feel like you have a chance in ballgames again, and that's the atmosphere you're looking for."

Notes

  • Washington said 2B Ian Kinsler, out on paternity leave following the birth of his son, would return to the team for Saturday's game.
  • The Rangers are in a stretch with 17 out of 20 games on the road.
  • The Twins started a portion of the schedule with 31 of the next 41 games at home. They've played the fewest home games in the majors.
  • The Twins won for the first time in 26 games this year when being outhit.
 
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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Luke Hughes (top) celebrates with Drew Butera after scoring the winning run. Once 17-37, Minnesota has now won seven of eight.  (US Presswire)
Luke Hughes (top) celebrates with Drew Butera after scoring the winning run. Once 17-37, Minnesota has now won seven of eight. (US Presswire)

Players of the Game
Minnesota

D. Young
AB 4
R 1
H 3
HR 1
RBI 1
Texas

J. Hamilton
AB 4
R 2
H 2
HR 1
RBI 1
 

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Texas Rangers
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Elvis Andrus, SS3010011 .285
David Murphy, DH4000004 .244
   a- Mike Napoli, PH-DH1000003 .211
Josh Hamilton, LF4221110 .303
Michael Young, 2B5000033 .304
Adrian Beltre, 3B5121000 .260
Nelson Cruz, RF4121001 .243
Mitch Moreland, 1B3011011 .310
Yorvit Torrealba, C4030011 .239
Endy Chavez, CF2010011 .407
   b- Craig Gentry, PH-CF1000001 .227
Totals36412418  
a-hit into fielder's choice for Murphy in the 8th
b-hit into fielder's choice for Chavez in the 8th
Batting
2B - Yorvit Torrealba (10, Blackburn)
HR - Josh Hamilton (4, Blackburn), Nelson Cruz (15, Blackburn)
SF - Mitch Moreland (2)
SH - Elvis Andrus (8), Endy Chavez (2)
RBI - Josh Hamilton (23), Adrian Beltre (46), Nelson Cruz (34), Mitch Moreland (20)
2-OUT RBI - Josh Hamilton (5)
CS - Nelson Cruz (2, 2nd base by Blackburn/Rivera)
Team LOB - 10
Fielding
E - Mitch Moreland (3, Missed catch of throw)
Texas Rangers
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Derek Holland 7.18441102 4.41
Mark Lowe (L,1-1) 1111110 3.86
Arthur Rhodes 0.1100000 5.65
Pitches-Strikes - Derek Holland 112-80, Mark Lowe 15-11, Arthur Rhodes 7-5
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Derek Holland 8-4, Mark Lowe 1-1
Batters Faced - Derek Holland 31, Mark Lowe 5, Arthur Rhodes 2
Minnesota Twins
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Ben Revere, CF4000114 .284
Alexi Casilla, SS5121012 .252
Michael Cuddyer, RF4123012 .259
Justin Morneau, DH4000022 .225
Delmon Young, LF4131001 .233
Danny Valencia, 3B4010022 .223
Luke Hughes, 1B4110022 .258
Rene Rivera, C3010011 .224
   a- Brian Dinkelman, PH1000011 .143
Matt Tolbert, 2B3100100 .204
Totals365105211  
a-struck out for Rivera in the 9th
Batting
2B - Luke Hughes (6, Lowe), Rene Rivera (3, Holland)
HR - Michael Cuddyer (8, Holland), Delmon Young (2, Holland)
RBI - Alexi Casilla (10), Michael Cuddyer 3 (21), Delmon Young (15)
2-OUT RBI - Alexi Casilla (2), Michael Cuddyer 3 (7)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
DP - Rivera-Casilla
E - Nick Blackburn (1, Throwing), Danny Valencia (6, Misplayed grounder)
Minnesota Twins
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Nick Blackburn 7.11042162 3.47
Jose Mijares0200000 4.50
Alex Burnett 0.1000000 5.94
Chuck James 0.2000010 0.00
Jim Hoey (W,1-2) 0.2000010 9.00
IBB - Hamilton by Nick Blackburn
HBP - Andrus (by Alex Burnett)
Pitches-Strikes - Nick Blackburn 109-72, Jose Mijares 9-7, Alex Burnett 6-4, Chuck James 9-7, Jim Hoey 9-6
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Nick Blackburn 10-6, Alex Burnett 1-0, Chuck James 1-0
Batters Faced - Nick Blackburn 33, Jose Mijares 2, Alex Burnett 2, Chuck James 2, Jim Hoey 2
Game Information
Attendance - 38761
Game Time - 3:01
Temperature - 62
Umpires - Home - Victor Carapazza, First Base - Dana DeMuth, Second Base - Paul Nauert, Third Base - Doug Eddings