Cuddyer’s triple in 10th lifts Twins
Twins rally from earlier 2-0 deficit
By La Velle E. Neal III
McClatchy-Tribune News Services
OAKLAND, Calif. — Deprived on Monday night, Minnesota Twins outfielder Michael Cuddyer wasn’t denied on Tuesday night.
Cuddyer’s booming triple in the 10th inning drove home Joe Mauer with the winning run in the Twins’ 3-2 victory over the Athletics in a key game of their 10-game road trip.
Cuddyer left Monday’s game in a rage after being called out at home in the ninth inning while trying to score on a wild pitch. Replays showed he was safe with the tying run.
But with Mauer on first on Tuesday, Cuddyer tagged Andrew Bailey’s curveball to right-center, past the outstretched glove of outfielder Ryan Sweeney. With two outs, Mauer, who hit a one-out single, scored easily.
Cuddyer was on his way to bat in the 10th inning when manager Ron Gardenhire told him, "Be safe this time."
"He told you that?" Cuddyer said afterward. "Yeah, but he told me to be safe at home. I wasn’t. Somebody else was, though."
The Twins can take the three-game series with a victory today before heading to Anaheim for a four-game series against the AL West-leading Los Angeles Angels.
Matt Guerrier (5-0) got the victory with two innings of scoreless relief. Joe Nathan earned his 26th save with a perfect 10th inning.
The challenge facing the Twins on Tuesday was to prove they could recover from blowing a 10-run lead the night before.
"It was good for our team to come back and compete the way it did," Gardenhire said. "Just like (the Athletics) did over there (Monday)."
Twins rookie righthander Anthony Swarzak gave the bullpen a much-needed break by pitching seven strong innings, holding Oakland to two runs with liberal use of his curveball.
Sure, the A’s are among the worst offensive teams in the American League, but they did score 14 runs Monday. Swarzak made sure there wasn’t a repeat Tuesday. He began using his curveball more, throwing it anytime in the count after Oakland hitters couldn’t square up his fastball.
Swarzak threw 28 curveballs, 20 for strikes, prompting pitching coach Rick Anderson to say, "That is the best curveball I’ve seen since he’s been here."
Swarzak walked batters in the first two innings but got out of trouble with double plays. He led off the third with a walk to Daric Barton and single by Ryan Sweeney. Barton scored on a grounder, and Sweeney scored on a single by Orlando Cabrera as the A’s took a 2-0 lead.
The Twins tied the score in the next half-inning. Joe Crede hit a double, followed by an RBI triple by Delmon Young and a sacrifice fly by Nick Punto.
Swarzak retired 11 of 12 batters after Cabrera’s RBI single. The Twins bullpen didn’t budge as he entered the seventh inning with 94 pitches thrown.