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Updated: July 19th, 2010 11:04pm
Heard this before? Scott Baker exits early as Indians snap Twins' streak

Heard this before? Scott Baker exits early as Indians snap Twins' streak

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Scott Baker never got into a rhythm on Monday night, and neither did the Minnesota Twins.

The Cleveland Indians jumped to an early two-run lead, then knocked out Baker in a big fifth inning that provided plenty of cushion to beat the Twins 10-4 -- snapping the home team's three-game winning streak in a series opener at Target Field.

Baker was charged with six runs on 10 hits and walked three in a snail-slow 4 2/3 innings, throwing 94 pitches (59 strikes) in the latest letdown for the Twins' struggling rotation.

In each right-hander's first start since the All-Star break, Kevin Slowey, Nick Blackburn and Baker lasted a combined 12 2/3 innings, allowing 28 hits and 16 earned runs for an 11.37 ERA.

The Twins (49-44) rallied to bail out Blackburn on Sunday but couldn't do the same against the Indians, who led 7-1 after sending 10 batters to the plate and scoring five runs in the top of the fifth inning against Baker, Alex Burnett -- who gave up singles to the only two batters he faced --and Ron Mahay. Left fielder Delmon Young did Baker no favors by turning Carlos Santana's leadoff fly ball into a double.

Jim Thome's towering home run to right field brought the stadium-record crowd of 40,853 back to life in the bottom of the sixth, and Orlando Hudson's RBI double later in the frame pulled the Twins within four.

But Travis Hafner answered with his own RBI double in the eighth, the stadium went silent again and the Twins never cut further into the lead.

Closer Jon Rauch ended the pitching mess by giving up two runs on four hits in the top of the ninth -- his second rocky appearance in as many outings since the break. Michael Cuddyer roped a leadoff double in the bottom half and scored on Delmon Young's one-out bloop, but that was it.

Left-hander Aaron Laffey went five innings and didn't allow an earned run for the Indians (39-54), who pounded out 20 hits -- the most against the Twins this season.

After posting a surprising sweep of the Detroit Tigers to open the season's unofficial second half, Cleveland now has won five straight.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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