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Updated: July 18th, 2011 10:14pm
Twins Daily: Surge halted by doubleheader sweep at hands of Tribe

Twins Daily: Surge halted by doubleheader sweep at hands of Tribe

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Faced with a chance to put the American League Central division leader on notice, the Minnesota Twins took two steps back on Monday night by getting swept in a day/night doubleheader by the Cleveland Indians at Target Field, 5-2 and 6-3.

The skinny

Five runs in a doubleheader simply doesn't get the job done very often.

Making his first major league start of the season, Indians left-hander David Huff stifled the Twins offense in Game 1, hurling seven scoreless innings while surrendering only five hits. The Indians offense scored four runs off starter Anthony Swarzak with the big blow being a three-run blast by Asdrubal Cabrera.

Left-hander Scott Diamond made his major league debut for the Twins in Game 2, allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits and two walks in 6 1/3 innings, but the two runs he allowed in the seventh inning turned out to be the team's ultimate downfall.

The Twins offense was only able to score two runs in Game 2 off right-hander Fausto Carmona, who wade his first start since July 3 (strained quad). Carmona allowed only two runs on seven hits while walking zero in six innings.

"His ball moves all over the place, so deciding on what's a strike and what's ball is pretty tough," manager Ron Gardenhire said about Carmona, who despite not walking anybody threw only 55 strikes in 89 pitches. "His ball flies all over the place. Normally a guy you can make throw a lot of pitches. I don't know if he was throwing a lot of strikes. He had us chasing, but that's because of the movement of the ball."

With the losses, the Twins (44-51) now sit seven games behind Cleveland for the division lead after trailing by just five when the day began.

"A long day," Gardenhire said. "A couple losses. We lost some ground here. We'll come back and see if we can do a better job tomorrow. We really didn't play very well at all."

Turning points

Defensive gaffes in the third inning helped lead to the Twins' downfall in Game 1. The frame began when a bobbled backhand and subsequent throwing error by Alexi Casilla allowed Lonnie Chisenhall to reach second base safely.

Chisenhall scored shortly after on a single up the middle by Ezequiel Carrera, who advanced to second base when Revere's throw short-hopped cutoff man Danny Valencia in the middle of the infield. Two batters later, Asdrubal Cabrera delivered a three-run homer to put the Indians up 4-0.

Afterward, Swarzak shouldered all of the blame.

"I gave up a home run two hitters later," he said. "That's my fault, not anybody else's. Alexi's a great second baseman and he makes phenomenal plays day in and day out, so I've got to find a way to get it done."

In Game 2, Danny Valencia's solo homer in the bottom of the sixth inning tied the game 2-2, but Lou Marson answered immediately with a solo homer off Diamond to lead off the top of the seventh. The next batter, Ezequiel Carrera, reached safely on an error by third baseman Valencia and eventually scored on a base hit by Travis Hafner, putting the tribe up 4-2.

The Indians went on to add two more runs in the top of the ninth inning, but Marson's blast countered any positive momentum the Twins had garnered from Valencia's shot.

Numbers game

112: The heat index in Minneapolis as Game 1 concluded, which was the highest heat index in the United States at that time -- to which Swarzak said, "I'll never use that as an excuse. It's hot for everybody." Joe Mauer added, "It was a long day. A little longer when you lose."

4: Grounders fielded by Mauer in Game 1 -- his second career game at first base. Mauer also caught a pop fly.

2: The number of relatively meaningless home runs hit in the ninth inning for the Twins on Monday -- a two-run blast by Michael Cuddyer in Game 1 and a solo blast by Trevor Plouffe in Game 2.

0: Hits for Ben Revere in nine plate appearances. Revere's batting average sunk from .278 to .267 on the day.

6: Hits for Mauer in eight plate appearances, raising his batting average from .260 to .290. Mauer's on-base percentage has also crawled up to .361. "I felt pretty good at the plate, and obviously the two games today you get a lot of ABs," Mauer said. "You just try to hold onto that feeling ... I think I'm seeing the ball a lot better and getting my foot down and feeling a lot more relaxed, I guess."

Overheard

"I just told him, I said, 'You did a heck of a job. Enjoy this. These people are going to be cheering for you when you walk off. You'll never forget this.' A nice moment for him."
-- Gardenhire on what he said to Diamond while making a pitching change in the seventh inning.

Health report

• 1B Justin Morneau (neck surgery, wrist) was out fielding groundballs between games on Monday, and he is expected to add more baseball activities to his workouts as the week progresses. The Twins remain hopeful Morneau can return at some point in August.

• OF Denard Span (concussion) played five innings in centerfield for Triple-A Rochester on Sunday night and reported no issues, according to head athletic trainer Rick McWane. Span played five innings once again on Monday night, going 0-for-3 with a lineout.

• OF Jason Kubel (sprained left foot) went 1-for-4 with a double for Rochester on Sunday as the designated hitter, and went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts as the right fielder on Monday.

• RHP Scott Baker (strained right elbow) will throw a bullpen session later this week, but isn't likely to come off the disabled list when eligible on Friday. McWane said Baker will probably make a rehab start before he returns to the rotation.

• RHP Kevin Slowey (abdominal strain) is scheduled to start Wednesday for Rochester as he continues his rehab.

On deck

The series continues Tuesday night (7:10 p.m., 1500 ESPN) as left-hander Francisco Liriano (6-7, 4.76) takes on right-hander Justin Masterson (8-6, 2.80).

Liriano grinded through five innings in Cleveland on June 7 -- his first start back from the disabled list -- allowing one run (zero earned) on three hits and three walks with seven strikeouts. Twice since then Liriano has allowed five runs or more while failing to complete five innings, but four times since then he has allowed three runs or fewer while completing seven innings or more.

Masterson took a tough-luck loss to the Twins on June 8 in Cleveland, allowing only two runs on nine hits in eight innings, striking out three and walking nobody. Masterson had allowed only one earned run in three starts leading up to the All-Star break (22 2/3 innings) with 16 strikeouts and only five walks. Against the Orioles on July 14, Masterson gave up four earned runs in six innings, but he struck out eight and walked only one. Current Twins hitters hit .315/.333/.370 off the right-hander.

Coming up

• Wednesday: vs. Cleveland, 12:10 p.m. RHP Nick Blackburn (7-6, 3.99) vs. RHP Josh Tomlin (11-4, 4.03).
• Thursday: vs. Detroit, 12:10 p.m. RHP Carl Pavano (6-6, 4.08) vs. RHP Justin Verlander (12-5, 2.29).
• Friday: vs. Detroit, 7:10 p.m. LHP Brian Duensing (7-7, 4.14) vs. RHP Max Scherzer (10-5, 4.53).

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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