Mauer's magic caps Twins' comeback win
After Plouffe ties it in sixth, catcher knocks go-ahead single in eighth
MINNEAPOLIS -- A late offensive surge paired with an All-Star effort spelled victory for the Twins as they upended the Indians, 3-2, Friday night at Target Field.
After falling behind early, the Twins rallied to tie it at 2 in the sixth and took the lead in the eighth. Pedro Florimon led off the eighth with a single and scored three batters later as Joe Mauer hit a line drive to center field.
When Mauer stepped up to the plate with two outs and Florimon on third, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was expecting an intentional walk. Instead, Mauer drove in the go-ahead run.
Mauer's fellow 2013 All-Star teammate, closer Glen Perkins, entered the ninth to earn save No. 22 in a 1-2-3 frame.
"It's good that they pitched to Joe, gave him a chance," Perkins said. "Thank you for that."
Indians manager Terry Francona explained that intentionally walking Mauer would have created a first-and-third situation that would have allowed the Twins more options offensively.
"You put more guys on," Francona said. "I guess the question would be, 'Why would you?' You'd have first and third, and the guy at third can fly. So how do you defend that? They can do a lot of things. If you want to hold Mauer at first, you have the hole open. You've got a guy on third that can fly. That's why we made the trip, so we know how we wanted to pitch him. I just think you're asking for trouble there.
"They told me, 'Hey, kind of pitch around him here. Don't give him anything to hit,'" right-handed reliever Joe Smith said. "Once I got ahead of him, 1-2, my approach changed. I was going for the punchout. I wanted to get out of the inning. He got me."
And fortunately for the Twins, it made the difference, as they won their first Friday tilt of the season.
The Twins' night got started behind a strong effort from Mike Pelfrey. The right-hander threw a season-high 113 pitches through 5 2/3 innings of work. He gave up just two runs on four hits and three walks and stuck out five.
"He labored through it, but he kept the damage to a minimum," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "A lot of pitches, but got us through some important innings."
"I think for as bad mechanically as I felt, I thought I grinded," Pelfrey said. "I'd prefer not to grind. I'd prefer to have some clean innings, some smooth innings. But there's going to be days like this, and you can't just give up."
Indians' lefty Scott Kazmir nearly mirrored Pelfrey's line with two runs, both unearned, on two hits and three walks with three strikeouts through six innings.
Kazmir kept the Twins stifled through five scoreless frames before giving up a two-out walk to Florimon in the sixth. A fielding error by third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall, who couldn't reel in a Brian Dozier hit, followed the walk, allowing Florimon to move up to third and Dozier to reach second. With two outs, Trevor Plouffe came up with the Twins' second hit of the night, a two-run single to short-right.
"He's got some great life to his fastball, and he was spotting it up pretty much wherever he wanted it today," Plouffe said of Kazmir. "He's been tough against us. In that situation, I'm just trying to do anything I can to find some outfield grass there and get those runs in. He got ahead of me, and it was just kind of battle mode at that point."
Cleveland opened the scoring in the third as Michael Bourn knocked a two-run double to left-center to score Chisenhall and Drew Stubbs. Chisenhall lead off the inning with a double, and two batters later, Pelfrey pelted Stubbs with a pitch.
The Twins responded to the Indians' third inning with their first hit of the night, but it could have been ruled an error. Clete Thomas hit a low liner straight at shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who attempted to backhand the ball as it bounced off the dirt. Cabrera mishandled it and lost control, allowing Thomas to reach first.
While Minnesota's offense eventually heated up, the club relied on a handful of strong defensive plays and a few Cleveland errors to stay in the game. Florimon made several impressive grabs, including a diving catch in the ninth that even Plouffe didn't think he could reel in.
"It was over my head, and I knew I had no shot," Plouffe said. "He kind of came out of nowhere there. It's pretty impressive. He had a great night defensively. I never realized how bad I was at shortstop until I watched someone like him. Then it really sinks in. He's fun to watch."