Silva, Bullpen Solid For Twins

In this edition of Twins Inside Pitch, the Twins get a solid five innings from Carlos Silva on Wednesday night, Matt Garza makes his second Major League start on Thursday, Nick Punto misses another game due to injury, and much more.

Carlos Silva gave the Twins a solid five innings, and the lineup busted out for seven runs, but Wednesday's victory over Cleveland was another testament to the value of the Twins' bullpen.

Four different relievers shut out the Indians on three hits and a walk over the final four innings to improve the majors' best bullpen ERA to 3.10.

"Our bullpen was super again," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Super job."

Rookie Pat Neshek (2-0) earned the victory after facing just one batter -- but it was a batter he struck out with two men on in the top of the eighth and the game tied 2-2 at the time.

Jesse Crain, Dennys Reyes and Matt Guerrier also pitched out of the 'pen Wednesday.

They continued a run that now has reached 23 1/3 innings in which they have allowed only two runs (0.77 ERA in that span).

REPLAY: The Twins scored five runs in the eighth inning, including three on Michael Cuddyer's 18th homer of the season to beat the Cleveland Indians 7-2 on Wednesday night at the Metrodome, giving the Twins their third straight victory and cutting the Chicago White Sox's lead in the AL wild-card race to one game.

The Twins racked up 17 hits off Cleveland pitching, including nine -- and five runs -- against the Indians' bullpen, which entered the series ranked 26th of 30 major league teams. It was the Twins' seventh victory in eight games against Cleveland since losing five of the first six meetings between the teams.

NOTES, QUOTES:

  • RHP Matt Garza (0-1, 23.63 ERA), the rookie who began the season at Single-A (14-4, 1.99 ERA at three minor league stops) makes his second major league start Thursday, and the Twins expect to get their first real look -- without the first-game jitters -- at how much the 22-year-old might be able to help their playoff chances. He lasted just 2 2/3 innings in last week's debut. "We want him to pitch, not come up here and throw," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Hopefully, he'll use all his pitches and locate the ball, and be a pitcher and not just a chucker out there. That's a learning process for a young pitcher."

  • The bottom two hitters in the Twins' order Wednesday -- fill-in 3B Luis Rodriguez and SS Jason Bartlett -- combined to go 7-for-7 in the win over the Indians. "They picked us up the whole game," said RF Michael Cuddyer, who had the big hit, a three-run homer, in the Twins' five-run eighth.

  • 3B Nick Punto missed his second straight game because of a bone bruise near his left knee. A roster move could result sooner rather than later because of the knee, but it may not involve the DL. With the Twins already playing with a short bench because they're carrying 12 pitchers, and with a day off coming Monday, the Twins could option out a pitcher and bring up an infielder for their important weekend series against the Chicago White Sox, manager Ron Gardenhire suggested before Wednesday's game. "We'll give it another day and then see where we're at," Gardenhire said.

  • LHP Dennys Reyes, the minor league free agent signing who has become the top situational/setup lefty reliever in baseball this season, entered Wednesday's game with the score tied, a runner a third and two outs. Then he retired lefty-hitting CF Grady Sizemore to retire the 24th of 29 inherited runners he has had this year. It also dropped his average-against for first batters faced to .158 (6-for-38). He stayed on in the eighth inning and got two outs, giving up a single and walk, without allowing a run -- lowering his season ERA to 1.05.

  • According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Twins' 44-16 record from June 8 through Tuesday was the best mark in the majors over that 60-game stretch and matched the best 60-game stretch in franchise history -- accomplished previously by the 1912 Washington Senators and 1933 Senators. A difference-maker in that stretch has been MVP candidate 1B Justin Morneau, who led the majors with a .383 batting average, 88 hits and 65 runs batted in over that span -- helping the Twins to a big-league-best .303 team average in the 60 games.

  • RF Michael Cuddyer's three-run homer with two outs in the eighth inning Wednesday gave him 32 runs batted in this season with two outs and runners in scoring position -- accounting for over 40 percent of his career-high 77 RBIs this season. Cuddyer, who went 3-for-5, including a double, also has career highs this season in homers (18), doubles (30), triples (four) and walks (49).

    BY THE NUMBERS: 478 -- Number of 30-home run seasons produced in the major leagues during the span between the Twins' previous 30-homer season in 1987 and 1B Justin Morneau reaching that plateau this year. (That includes 14 players this year).

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's been a long time coming for this organization. I don't think you could pick a better time for him to hit a home run. We're very proud of him." -- Manager Ron Gardenhire, on 1B Justin Morneau becoming the first Twin to hit 30 homers in a season in 19 years, getting to 30 with a two-run shot in the eighth inning Wednesday that gave the Twins a 4-3 lead that held up for the final score against Detroit.


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