Still early in the season, but finally, a sweep
The Tigers had to wonder how much the Twins would miss the Metrodome this season, especially after Detroit lost 14 of its final 19 games in there, including one of the greatest games ever played under the Teflon roof.
That's why Wednesday's 5-4 victory at Target Field was particularly satisfying for the Twins.
After dropping two of three games at Detroit last week, the Twins completed their first three-game sweep and pushed the second-place Tigers 3 1/2 games back in the American League Central.
"We don't want them to feel like they're comfortable coming in here just because it's a new building," first baseman Justin Morneau said. "It's still our home. We still want that home-field advantage, and it's good to set the tone like we did."
Detroit came in riding a five-game winning streak, and the Twins played the entire series without reigning MVP Joe Mauer, but that didn't stop them from putting the Tigers in a quick hole in each game.
After scoring four first- inning runs against Max Scherzer on Monday and two against Dontrelle Willis on Tuesday, the Twins repeated the pattern, jumping on Rick Porcello (2-3) for two first-inning runs. It marked the sixth consecutive game the Twins have scored at least two first-inning runs, something no team has done since Bobby Murcer and the Yankees did it for seven consecutive games in 1971.
"The old saying around here is 'Be ready, first inning'" manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We've got such a good lineup at the top, they know how to work counts and get on base."
Following last Thursday's 3-0 loss to the Tigers at Comerica Park, starting pitcher Carl Pavano said he thought the team's energy level hadn't been as high for day games. The Twins had missed three chances at April sweeps with afternoon losses and came out flat against the Tigers, dropping their first series. Since then, the Twins are 2-0 in afternoon games, including Sunday's victory at Cleveland.
Joe Mauer, who has missed the past five games because of a bruised left heel, improved enough to play catch and take some swings in the batting cage Wednesday.
Mauer said the heel feels better, though he isn't sure how long it will be before he returns to the lineup.
"His foot's better," Gardenhire said. "He's not really ready to go out on the field, but he's starting to move around and put some weight on it."
Wilson Ramos has started the past four games at catcher. After going 7-for-9 with three doubles in his first two games, Ramos has gone 0-for-7 with two strikeouts.
"You just have to take your time here [with Mauer]," Gardenhire said. "We've got three catchers; we're going to take our time. As I said, I'm going to have to rely on Joe. I can't tell him how he's feeling. I've also relayed to him that I want this thing to be healed."