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Updated: June 7th, 2011 12:04am
Mackey: Indians and Royals have suffered death via Twins' papercuts

Mackey: Indians and Royals have suffered death via Twins' papercuts

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by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com

CLEVELAND -- Death by papercuts.

That was the fate bestowed upon the Cleveland Indians on Monday night at the hands of the Minnesota Twins, particularly in a fifth inning of a 6-4 win that included numerous flashbacks to the piranha era.

A sacrifice bunt turned into an infield single.

A wild pitch that moves runners into scoring position, followed by a timely two-RBI single by a middle infielder barely hitting his weight.

And "productive outs," as glorified as they might sometimes be.

Heck, even Justin Morneau got in on the small ball action in the sixth inning, strategically (presumably) hitting a groundball to second base for the sake of moving Michael Cuddyer to third. The selfless act paid off, as Cuddyer scored soon after on Delmon Young's blooper to centerfield.

Morneau was greeted with hugs and fist bumps as he trotted back into the dugout.

With boppers Jason Kubel, Jim Thome and Joe Mauer currently sidelined, and with Young and Morneau suffering through extremely slow starts offensively, the Twins have turned to new tactics for pushing runs across the plate.

"I think in KC (last week), that's where we started it," said catcher Drew Butera, who has contributed three hits and three RBIs in nine at-bats during the Twins' current five-game winning streak, including a squeeze bunt that turned into an infield single on Monday night.

"It's a different type of lineup. We can't wait around for a three-run homer ... We have to make stuff happen."

A different type of lineup is right. The lineup -- which was the Twins' 55th different one in 59 games -- listed Ben Revere and Alexi Casilla as table setters for No. 3 hitter Denard Span.

Somewhere in St. Louis, Nick Punto is nodding with approval from a cold tub in the trainer's room.

As it turned out, the bottom of the batting order -- Young, Luke Hughes, Matt Tolbert and Butera -- inflicted most of the damage on Monday night, in scrappy fashion. The Twins scored three decisive runs in the frame, with help from two bunts, a run-scoring groundball double play and a run-scoring wild pitch.

And coincidentally, Butera's squeeze bunt came after he decided he was sick of swinging and missing at sliders.

"You start winning ballgames, that's kind of what happens," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "The ball starts going everywhere, you stay on the ball. Like I said, the little things, you execute and guys dropping down bunts, trying to figure out how they can get on base to help the ball club, those are all things when you're struggling they don't go well."

During the Twins' five-game winning streak, the offensive catalysts -- aside from a few haymakers delivered by Cuddyer -- have been Tolbert (7-for-15, three doubles, a triple, five RBIs and four runs), Revere (7-for-21, four runs, two RBIs and a stolen base), Casilla (8-for-19, two doubles, four walks and three stolen bases), Butera (3-for-9, three RBIs, three runs) and Span, who was 4-for-10 with a double, a triple and three RBIs in Kansas City before sitting two games due to injury.

Even Jason Repko delivered two key hits on Sunday. Same with Rene Rivera on Thursday and Saturday.

Span and Cuddyer are paid to be two of the Twins' main offensive leaders, but the others have stepped up to help temporarily pull the Twins out of the grave.

"There's a lot of excitement on the bench," Gardenhire said. "There's a lot better feeling that we have a chance to win right now. No matter what the score is, we feel like we can stay in the ballgame by running around a little bit."

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
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