Twins: Mauer homers, has three RBIs to lift Slowey to eighth win
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Joe Mauer tried to find the right words to explain why he's suddenly a home run hitter. Truth is, he's not even sure how to explain it himself.
Mauer homered and had three RBIs to help Kevin Slowey win again in the Minnesota Twins' 4-3 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night.
"I don't know. I'm not really changing anything, my approach or anything," Mauer said. "I just try to hit the ball hard somewhere and they're starting to fly over the fence."
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire is a bit more direct in explaining Mauer's recent play.
"Amazing," he said. "I don't remember too many guys being on the ball as long as he's been on the ball recently."
Slowey (8-1) won his fourth consecutive start, pitching six strong innings. Michael Cuddyer missed the game with a strained right index finger and Joe Crede sat out with a swollen left knee.
Joe Nathan recorded four outs for his 10th save in 12 chances, forcing pinch-hitter Ryan Garko to ground out to end the eighth inning and strand Mark DeRosa on third.
Nathan finished the save by getting Ben Francisco to fly out to the warning track in left with a runner on first. It was Nathan's first save of more than one inning since Aug. 17 of last season.
Gardenhire said he wants Nathan available every night, but there was little doubt in the manager's mind that he needed to go to his closer early on Tuesday.
"He was there, he was up and ready," Gardenhire said. "There was no doubt about it."
Mauer returned from a back injury to hit 11 home runs and drive in 32 runs in May and is keeping that torrid pace in June.
The two-time batting champ finished with three hits to raise his average to .431.
His home run in the fifth had just enough carry to reach the first row of blue seats in the Metrodome and give the Twins a 4-0 lead.
Victor Martinez homered off reliever Jose Mijares to start the eighth, which cut the deficit to 4-3.
Slowey retired nine in a row before Luis Valbuena singled with two outs in the seventh. After Trevor Crowe coaxed a walk, Kelly Shoppach blooped a two-run double into right field that glanced off the glove of Alexi Casilla.
Slowey walked the next batter and was replaced by Matt Guerrier, who struck out Francisco to end the threat.
Minnesota's injury concerns appear minor when compared to Cleveland's. The Indians entered Tuesday with eight players on the disabled list, the second most in the majors behind Tampa Bay. Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera could join them after he injured his left shoulder sliding into second base to break up a double play in the first inning.
Cabrera said he dislocated the shoulder and they had to pop it back in. X-rays did not reveal any damage, but Cabrera will have an MRI tomorrow.
"There's potential for the DL, but we'll have to wait and see," Indians manager Eric Wedge said.
Included on Cleveland's list of injuries are Grady Sizemore (elbow) and Travis Hafner (shoulder).
Rookie David Huff (0-2) allowed all four Twins runs over five innings. The Twins got to Huff for two runs in the third on RBI singles from Denard Span and Mauer.
Slowey was also aided by his defense. Plays by Brendan Harris and Carlos Gomez saved at least one run in the third.
Harris made a diving play at shortstop to retire Shoppach and Gomez tracked down a long drive from Martinez in the right-center field gap, leaping and crashing against the wall to make the catch.
"Incredible," Slowey said. "I turned around and he was almost out of my field of vision. For him to make that catch up against the wall, it saved me a run, maybe two."
"Gomez came a long way to get it," Wedge said. "That was a great catch."
E Hafner, rehabbing his sore right shoulder with Triple-A Columbus, will rejoin the Indians Thursday for an examination. If the shoulder looks ready, he could be in the lineup for Friday's game against the Chicago White Sox.
- Cuddyer's injured finger is the same one that landed him on the DL last season.