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Updated: April 24th, 2011 5:10pm
Twins Daily: Big hits by Morneau, Kubel deliver sweep despite miscues

Twins Daily: Big hits by Morneau, Kubel deliver sweep despite miscues

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel ripped two-run doubles as the Minnesota Twins overcame several miscues and near-misses to beat the Cleveland Indians 4-3 on Sunday, sweeping a rain-shortened series at Target Field.

The skinny

Carl Pavano survived a rocky fourth inning to complete seven and earn the win -- but not without plenty of drama, much of it the Twins' own doing.

• In the bottom of the third inning, Alexi Casilla ran through a stop sign at third base on Kubel's one-out single, and Indians right fielder Shin-Soo Choo easily threw out Casilla at home plate. Morneau followed with a double to deep center field that drove in two runs, rather than three. Then, Michael Cuddyer singled to right and third-base coach Steve Liddle waved home Morneau, whom Choo gunned down to end the inning.

• In the top of the fourth, the Indians already had one run in when Michael Brantley launched what appeared to be a three-run home run onto the right-field overhang. But Twins manager Ron Gardenhire correctly argued the ball hit the top of the fence, umpires reviewed the play, Brantley was sent back to second -- and after another walk, Pavano got Jack Hannahan to fly out to center, keeping the Indians' lead at 3-2.

• In the top of the eighth, reliever Glen Perkins walked Santana with one out, then induced a high fly to left field by Travis Hafner that Jason Repko lost in the sun, putting runners at first and second. Jim Hoey replaced Perkins, struck out Cabrera and gave way to Jose Mijares, who crossed up catcher Drew Butera on a wayward 1-0 fastball to Brantley before a flyout to Repko ended the threat.

• In the top of the ninth, Denard Span made a sprawling catch on Hannahan's sinking liner for the second out. Grady Sizemore followed with a two-out double off of Twins closer Matt Capps, who escaped with his fourth save when Asdrubal Cabrera's deep drive to left died in Repko's glove on the warning track.

All that for the first series win this season by the Twins, who also have their first three-game winning streak at a time several key players remain out of the lineup.

"It's not a big series if you look in the long run," Kubel said, "but it's a big series for now, and we go that first (win) out of the way. So, hopefully, we can keep rolling."

Turning point

With one out in the fifth inning on Saturday, the Indians intentionally walked Kubel to load the bases and face Morneau, who promptly ripped a two-run single that broke the game open.

Faced with the same situation on Sunday -- only this time with a one-run lead -- the Indians opted to pitch to Kubel, and that didn't work either.

Kubel ripped Rafael Perez's 1-0 slider off the right-center field wall, scoring Casilla and Denard Span to give the Twins the lead for good.

"Kube's been hot," Gardenhire said. "Some guys got on for him, we executed a little bit, and Kube's been driving them in."

Numbers game

9: Home runs subjected to replay reviews in Target Field history. Umpires have overturned three, including Brantley's blast off the limestone overhang in right field on Sunday. "We haven't had an opportunity to see a lot of balls like that, but I know it has to hit on the top of the wall," Gardenhire said. "We kind of decided that when we were setting the ground rules, and I could see where that ball hit -- looked like on the corner to me, because it came back into play, bouncing back, and the only way for it to do that is to hit on top of the wall and ricochet off the fence."

11: Walks in five starts this season by Pavano, who issued three on Sunday along with three earned runs and six hits over seven innings, striking out three.

11: Starts it took Pavano to issue 11 walks last season, when he went 17-11 with a 3.75 earned-run average and allowed 37 walks in 221 innings. "I'm just not getting the feel that I'd currently like to have, not being able to get the ball where I want to as consistently as I'd like to," Pavano said. "But you go through times like this, and I think for me to be frustrated just means I want it. I've never been the type of guy that can just sit back and think it's going to come to you. Sometimes I try to get it a little too much, and sometimes that hurts you a little bit. "

92: Average speed (in mph) of Perkins' fastball this season.

96: High speed Perkins' fastball touched on the Target Field radar gun on Sunday.

3: Innings pitched by Indians starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco, who departed with tightness in his throwing elbow.

2: Balls Jim Thome hit high off the right-field wall. He stopped with a single on the first and legged out a double on the second, barely beating Choo's throw.

5: Teams in the past 90 years that have scored five runs or fewer in each of their first 19 games in a season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The list includes the 1943 and 1968 Chicago White Sox, the 1966 Oakland Athletics, the 1972 Milwaukee Brewers and the 2011 Twins, who snapped a streak of 28 consecutive games (including playoffs) in Saturday's 10-3 win over Cleveland.

Who's hot

• Cuddyer: Heading into Sunday, Cuddyer was hitting .318/.400/.682 for the week with two home runs and his first three RBIs of the season. He added a single in four trips Sunday, giving him a .240/.305/.360 batting line for the season so far. Cuddyer's offensive production looks even better now that he will see significant action as a second baseman.

• LHP Brian Duensing: Since allowing a three-run bomb to Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira with nobody out in the first inning on April 5, Duensing has been spectacular. He settled down to allow only four runs in seven innings in that game, and he has allowed just five earned runs over 20 innings in three starts since. For the season, Duensing has posted a 3.00 ERA and 3.53 FIP with 17 strikeouts, seven walks and two home runs allowed in 27 innings.

Who's not

LHP Dusty Hughes: Claimed off waivers from the Royals this offseason to be a lefty specialist, Hughes has allowed a crooked number in three of his first nine appearances -- including a two-run blast to Grady Sizemore in Saturday's game.

Health watch

• C Joe Mauer (viral infection/bilateral leg weakness) continues to battle soreness in multiple body parts and faces a rehabilitation assignment before he's ready to return, Gardenhire told 1500 ESPN on Sunday morning.

• LF Delmon Young (sore ribs) is expected to return to the lineup on Tuesday.

• Morneau (flu) played for a second straight day and once again had two hits. "Morny's playing good, feeling good, which is probably the most important thing," Gardenhire said. "He's got that adrenaline going back in him."

Overheard

"Lexi wasn't running. It didn't look like he was running. That's the part that disappointed me. But I think Steve (Liddle) was stopping him. Choo can throw. We kind of saw that. If he wins a Gold Glove, we'll probably have Steve hand it out. "
-- Gardenhire, on Casilla and Morneau getting thrown out at home

On deck

The Twins are off on Monday, then conclude their homestand with a three-game set against Tampa beginning on Tuesday night.

Coming up

• Tuesday: vs. Tampa Bay, 7:10 p.m. LHP Francisco Liriano (1-3, 7.40 ERA) vs. RHP Wade Davis (2-2, 2.73).
• Wednesday: vs. Tampa Bay, 7:10 p.m. RHP Nick Blackburn (1-3, 4.01) vs. Jeff Niemann (0-3, 7.08).
• Thursday: vs. Tampa Bay, 12:10 p.m. RHP Scott Baker (1-2, 3.24) vs. Jeremy Hellickson (1-2, 4.32).

-- Phil Mackey contributed.

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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