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Twins unable to pick up struggling Nolasco in loss

Righty allows five runs on nine hits over just 4 2/3 innings

Twins unable to pick up struggling Nolasco in loss play video for Twins unable to pick up struggling Nolasco in loss

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins reached a dubious mark Monday night, as they reached 90 losses for a fourth straight season while also clinching last place in the American League Central for the third time in four years.

It came with Ricky Nolasco on the mound, as he didn't get through the fifth inning and turned in yet another clunker to hand the Twins a 6-2 loss to the D-backs at Target Field. It dropped the Twins to 66-90 to mark just the second time in franchise history they've lost at least 90 games in four consecutive years, as they also did it from 1997-2000.

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Nolasco, who fell to 5-12 with a 5.47 ERA in the first season of a four-year, $49 million deal signed before the season, has factored heavily into the club's struggles and said even a strong start in his last outing of the year on Saturday against the Tigers won't change the way he'll look at his season.

"There's nothing I can do that's going to make me OK for the offseason," Nolasco said. "It's been a terrible year. I'm just trying to finish the year healthy. But there's nothing I can do to fix it from here on out."

Nolasco had been pitching better of late, as he had a 3.09 ERA over his last five starts, including allowing just one run over his previous two starts totaling 15 innings. He started with four scoreless frames before suffering through a five-run fifth inning. The right-hander gave up five runs on nine hits and a walk over 4 2/3 innings in his shortest outing since July 6.

"Nolasco has been a guy we've had some trouble with in the past and the guys made good adjustments in the game," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "He got some curveballs up and we hit some early sliders."

Nolasco cruised early, but it all fell apart in the fifth, as Nolasco gave up three straight hits to open the inning, including an RBI double to Didi Gregorius. Ender Inciarte brought home a run with an RBI groundout before Gregorius scored on a wild pitch. After a single from A.J. Pollock, Nolasco served up a two-run blast to Mark Trumbo to give Arizona a 5-1 lead.

"He just didn't make any pitches in that inning," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Trumbo, he left one out and over the plate, and he killed that ball. He was doing all right up until that point. But he had one bad inning and just kept flipping them up there and couldn't finish off a hitter and finally the big explosion."

It helped back D-backs right-hander Josh Collmenter, who gave up two runs on five hits and a walk over 6 1/3 innings to get his 11th win. He also received an insurance run in the eighth on an RBI groundout from Chris Owings off reliever Michael Tonkin.

"He had a great changeup," Gardenhire said. "Even the home-plate umpire said his changeup was unbelievable. He has funk and keeps the ball behind his head."

The Twins opened the scoring with a run in the third on a two-out RBI single from Chris Herrmann, but didn't score again until the seventh. Kurt Suzuki led off the inning with a double before Collmenter was removed with one out. Left-hander Oliver Perez came in and walked Aaron Hicks before giving up an RBI single to pinch-hitter Josmil Pinto.

But the Twins couldn't add on after Pinto's RBI single, as they went 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position on the night en route to their third straight loss.

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Hicks returns to lineup and Escobar gets hit off bench

Hicks returns to lineup and Escobar gets hit off bench play video for Hicks returns to lineup and Escobar gets hit off bench

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins center fielder Aaron Hicks returned to the lineup on Monday against the D-backs after missing the previous two games with back stiffness.

Hicks was a late scratch from the lineup on Saturday against the Indians and also was held out of action on Sunday. He returned Monday, but shortstop Eduardo Escobar was held out of the starting lineup because he's been dealing with a jammed right shoulder, so rookie Danny Santana made his fourth straight start at shortstop. But Escobar made his return later in the game, as he served as a pinch-runner for Josmil Pinto in the seventh inning before taking over at second base in the eighth. Escobar singled to left in his one at-bat in the ninth inning.

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First baseman Joe Mauer and second baseman Brian Dozier were also held out of the lineup, as Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he plans on mixing up the lineup now that they're facing a team that's not in contention. Chris Parmelee started at first base, while Doug Bernier made his first start of the season at second base.

"Those guys have been playing every day, so we're going to try to use these games to mix up the lineups," Gardenhire said. "[Josmil] Pinto will be in there catching tomorrow. So we're just going to mix in guys before we play four big ones against Detroit at the end. We'll throw our bullets at them as best we possibly can."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Twins recognize Vargas, Berrios with organizational honors

Twins recognize Vargas, Berrios with organizational honors play video for Twins recognize Vargas, Berrios with organizational honors

MINNEAPOLIS -- A pair of Puerto Rico natives earned honors from the Twins on Monday, as the club named first baseman/designated hitter Kennys Vargas and right-hander Jose Berrios the organization's player and pitcher of the year, respectively.

It's the second major honor for both Vargas and Berrios, as they also both represented the Twins in the Sirius/XM Futures All-Star Game at Target Field on July 13. Vargas is currently with the Twins, while Berrios ended the year at Triple-A Rochester after making a spot start there at the end of the season.

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"I think Vargas and Berrios were certainly worthy of those selections," Twins general manager Terry Ryan said. "Vargas jumped up two levels to get here and Berrios jumped up a couple levels throughout the course of the summer. Both of them have a chance to be good for a long time up here."

Vargas, the recipient of the 2014 Sherry Robertson Award, started the year at Double-A New Britain and hit .281/.360/.472 with 17 doubles, 17 home runs, 63 RBIs, 50 runs and 43 walks in 97 games. The 24-year-old has been with Minnesota since Aug. 1.

With the big league club, Vargas has hit .288/.303/.480 with nine doubles, one triple, nine home runs, 38 RBIs and 24 runs in 47 games. He found out he won the award on Sunday night at the Twins' annual team dinner.

"For me, it's an honor to be selected the Minor League Player of the Year," Vargas said. "I worked very hard for that. I worked hard for six years and got a lot of help from the Minor League coaching staffs and teammates. And I'll keep working hard to maybe be selected as an All-Star player or something and hopefully reach the World Series."

Berrios, 20, is ranked fifth in the Twins' system by MLB.com. The six-foot, 187-pound right-hander began the season with Class A Fort Myers and went 9-3 with a 1.96 ERA. Berrios allowed 78 hits and 23 walks while striking out 109 in 16 starts, then was promoted to New Britain on July 7. Over eight starts there, he went 3-4 with a 3.54 ERA before hitting the disabled list on Aug. 2 with a right shoulder strain. Berrios also made one start with Rochester, allowing six runs in three innings on Aug. 31.

"You know what we think about Vargas because he's up here, but we think equally of Berrios," Ryan said. "He's one of the better ones we have. He's not the biggest kid we have, but he's very athletic and is one of the hardest-working kids we have."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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D-backs challenge, get call overturned against Twins

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MINNEAPOLIS -- The D-backs won a manager's challenge in the fifth inning of Monday night's game with the Twins.

With no outs, Twins center fielder Aaron Hicks tried to steal second-base and was ruled safe by second base umpire Jon Byrne.

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D-backs manager Kirk Gibson challenged the ruling and after just a 1-minute 1-second review the call was overturned and Hicks was ruled out.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Gibson looks to even series against D-backs

Chafin aims to pick up first big league win against Twins

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Kyle Gibson did not have his best stuff during his last start, but he still picked up his 12th win of the season against the American League Central-leading Tigers on Wednesday.

Matched up against former Cy Young Award winner David Price, Gibson struggled at first, but settled down, finishing the game with six innings pitched and four runs allowed.

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"It's the thing that separates the guys who throw 230 innings from the guys who throw 170 like me now," Gibson said. "They find a way to get through seven or eight or six innings when they don't have their best stuff. It's something I've struggled with this year."

"I was proud of Gibby for the way he hung in there," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Our catcher came in after two innings and looked at me and was going, 'I don't know what we've got here.' But we bowed his neck like they say in old-school baseball and he got us through six innings. And that was impressive. Those are the type of things you want to see from a young kid."

The other 'Gibby,' D-backs manager Kirk Gibson, will send rookie Andrew Chafin to the Target Field mound on Tuesday. Chafin made his second career start on Sept. 17, struggling at times, but giving up two runs over six innings against the Giants.

"I guess you could say maybe I was trying too hard to be too fine and precise with things," Chafin said after the start. "I just went back to going out there and throwing it and trusting things, and that helps a bit."

D-backs: Club cuts list of general manager candidates
The list of potential new D-backs general managers got a little shorter Monday when Gary LaRocque elected to stay with the Cardinals, where he is the team's farm director.

The remaining known candidates include Allard Baird, Larry Beinfest, Ray Montgomery, Tim Purpura, Dave Stewart and De Jon Watson.

CBSsports.com reported that Stewart, Baird and Watson were the finalists for the job, while USA Today said Stewart was the "heavy favorite," with Watson still in the running. USA Today also reported the possibility that Stewart could be hired as GM with Watson as his assistant.

LaRocque is the fourth known candidate no longer in the running, joining Billy Eppler, Thad Levine and Hal Morris.

D-backs officials have not commented on the search other than to say last Friday that they had concluded interviews and chief baseball officer Tony La Russa and president/CEO Derrick Hall would discuss the candidates.

Twins: Gardenhire mixing up lineup
As the season draws to a close and the Twins miss out on a playoff spot for the fourth straight season, Gardenhire is changing his lineup around to get a glimpse at some non-starters.

Josmil Pinto started at catcher on Monday, with Doug Bernier getting a chance at second base and Chris Parmelee playing first. The swaps gave Joe Mauer and Brian Dozier a rare day off.

"Those guys have been playing every day, so we're going to try to use these games to mix up the lineups," Gardenhire said. "Pinto will be in there catching tomorrow. So we're just going to mix in guys before we play four big ones against Detroit at the end. We're throw our bullets at them as best we possibly can."

Worth noting:
• Twins shortstop Eduardo Escobar was not in the starting lineup for Monday's game because of a jammed right shoulder. He was able to come off the bench to pinch-run and tallied a hit.

Adam Lichtenstein is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Swarzak scuffles in spot start, Twins fall to Tribe

Righty allows three earned runs; offense racks up 15 strikeouts

Swarzak scuffles in spot start, Twins fall to Tribe play video for Swarzak scuffles in spot start, Twins fall to Tribe

MINNEAPOLIS -- With the way Corey Kluber has pitched for the Indians this season, the Twins needed a strong spot start from Anthony Swarzak, strong defense and a few big hits with runners in scoring position for a chance to win the series finale Sunday afternoon.

Instead, Swarzak lasted just 4 1/3 innings and wasn't helped by his defense, while the offense was held in check by Kluber in a 7-2 loss to the Indians at Target Field. The fifth inning was Minnesota's downfall, as the Twins made two errors on a potential inning-ending double play and Swarzak balked home a run in a three-run inning for the Indians.

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"We made some mistakes out on the field that really hurt us today," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We attempted a double play that was two bad plays in a row. And we had a balk, so it's a bad inning and it turns into that kind of game where now you're in a hole with Kluber."

That hole was too much for the Twins to overcome, as Swarzak, making a second straight start with left-hander Tommy Milone still out with neck stiffness, went 4 1/3 innings, giving up five runs (three earned) on eight hits and two walks. It was the third spot start of the year for the right-hander. He fell to 1-1 with a 6.59 ERA in those outings.

"I felt like my stuff was good," Swarzak said. "I had a little more velo early in the game than later in the game. They got me in the stretch pretty often and I didn't make enough pitches to get myself out of it."

Swarzak ran into trouble in the third, when he gave up four straight hits with one out. Jose Ramirez brought in the game's first run with an RBI single before Michael Brantley followed with an RBI double.

The Indians scored three more times in a wild fifth inning that saw Swarzak get knocked from the game. Michael Bourn and Ramirez both singled with one out before Brantley hit into a potential inning-ending double play to second baseman Brian Dozier. But Dozier's throw to second brought Danny Santana off the bag and Santana's throw to first sailed past Kennys Vargas to bring home a run on two errors.

"I made a bad throw," Dozier said. "I felt like we probably could've turned two even though Brantley is a good runner. If I make a better throw, we at least get one."

The Twins opted to intentionally walk Carlos Santana to load the bases, but Swarzak committed a balk to bring home a run. Swarzak then intentionally walked David Murphy before coming out of the game. After Swarzak departed, the Indians scored the third run of the frame on a sacrifice fly from Yan Gomes off reliever Ryan Pressly.

Cleveland put the game away with two runs in the sixth against reliever Aaron Thompson with Ramirez providing a sac fly and Brantley coming through with an RBI single.

It was more than enough for Kluber, who is among the leading candidates for the American League Cy Young Award this season. The right-hander went eight innings, surrendering two runs on seven hits and a walk, while tying a career high with 14 strikeouts to improve to 17-9 with a 2.53 ERA on the year.

"I made some mistakes throughout the game and they did a good job of putting them in play," Kluber said. "They had a few hard-hit balls and stuff, but I think for the most part Yan and I did a good job of limiting the damage and when I did get guys on, we limited them to those two runs."

Chris Herrmann helped the Twins score both runs against Kluber, as he laced an RBI double in the second before leading off the fifth with another double. He came around to score in the fifth on a one-out double from Santana.

"We gave Herrmann a chance out there," Gardenhire said. "He swung the bat really well."

But a day after going 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position, the Twins went just 1-for-5 in those situations to get the series loss against the Indians, who won the last two games and remain 3 1/2 games back of the second AL Wild Card spot with a week left in the season.

"Every one has been big," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "We're looking forward to it. We've worked hard to get to this point."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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May's win streak ends as Indians strike early

Rookie allows seven runs in 4 2/3 innings as three-game run is snapped

May's win streak ends as Indians strike early play video for May's win streak ends as Indians strike early

MINNEAPOLIS -- After a shaky start to his career, rookie right-hander Trevor May started to show some signs he was turning it around with three straight wins.

But May reverted back to his old form Saturday night, as he struggled against the Indians in a 7-3 loss at Target Field. May, making his eighth career start, couldn't build on his last outing when he struck out a career-high 10 batters and walked none against the White Sox on Sunday. The right-hander lasted just 4 2/3 innings, giving up seven runs on eight hits and two walks while striking out three to fall to 3-5 with an 8.39 ERA.

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"The biggest thing was just putting guys away," said May, who has one more start left this year. "I think all the runs scored with two outs. There were three instances where I was one pitch away from getting out of an inning unscathed. And I was 0-for-3 on those pitches."

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said it was a battle for May, who didn't have his best stuff and couldn't limit the damage the way he did in his last three outings. His final straw was a three-run homer to Yan Gomes in the fifth that put the game away for the Indians.

"He was fighting it but he still had a chance to get out of it," Gardenhire said. "The three-run homer to Gomes pretty much put the nail in the coffin. If he makes a pitch there and gets through that inning, who knows? His damage control wasn't great."

The Indians jumped out to an early lead with a three-run second inning keyed by a two-out triple down the right-field line from Mike Aviles. Michael Bourn followed with an RBI single.

Cleveland scored again in the third after Michael Brantley led off the inning with a double and scored on a two-out single from Gomes. Gomes came through yet again with the three-run blast with two outs in the fifth to knock May from the game.

"That was the big pitch of the night," Gardenhire said. "He left up and over the plate and the guy puts it in the seats and you're down 7-2. It was a battle for him. It wasn't a step in the right direction."

It was enough offense for Indians rookie left-hander T.J. House, who also didn't have his best stuff and went just five innings but still picked up his fourth career win. House gave up two runs on six hits and a walk with five strikeouts in his shortest outing since Aug. 26.

"I was definitely shaking off the dust the first two or three innings," House said. "After that, I felt like I settled down a little bit better. I kept the ball down in the zone and was getting more ground balls and I got to strike out the side in the fifth inning."

The Twins got on the board in the second after loading the bases with nobody out following a 12-pitch walk from Oswaldo Arcia. After Eduardo Nunez struck out, Jordan Schafer brought home a run with an RBI groundout, but Danny Santana flied out to right to end the scoring threat.

Minnesota scored again in the third when Brian Dozier led off the frame with a double and scored on an RBI groundout from Kennys Vargas. Dozier gave the Twins another run in the eighth with a leadoff homer off lefty Nick Hagadone. It was Dozier's 21st of the year and his first since Aug. 10.

"It got the monkey off my back or whatever," Dozier said. "I'd been stuck on that for a while. It is what it is. More importantly, we didn't win the game."

But as Dozier noted, it wasn't enough, as the Twins went 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position on the night to snap their three-game winning streak.

"You credit their pitchers," Gardenhire said. "They brought in a lot of pitchers over there. Their starter, he flipped it over there exactly like we saw. We've seen him a few times now. He adds and subtracts really well. We put some people out there but never came up with the big ones."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Perkins relieved arm injury won't require surgery

Perkins relieved arm injury won't require surgery play video for Perkins relieved arm injury won't require surgery

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins closer Glen Perkins reflected Saturday about suffering his season-ending forearm strain, saying it was a relief that it's only a minor injury and won't require surgery.

The two-time All-Star underwent MRI exams on his shoulder, elbow and forearm on Thursday and Friday and was officially diagnosed with a strained right forearm and nerve irritation in his forearm. He said the plan is to rest his forearm before starting a rehab program once he returns from a family vacation on Oct. 7.

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Perkins said he didn't fear needing surgery, but was happy to hear it wasn't a serious injury and that he'll be ready to go in time for next season.

"I didn't expect anything major," Perkins said. "I was still able to go and throw the ball with fairly good velocity. The movement wasn't there and that was the bigger concern. But if I were out there throwing 85 mph, I would've maybe expected surgery. It was more about not being able to finish pitches."

Perkins said he's been dealing with forearm issues since the 2011 season and has missed time with it over the last four seasons, including missing a full week with the injury in '11. He said it's something he'll have to monitor going forward and needs to be more honest with team trainers if it pops up again.

He said he only felt discomfort while throwing a slider in his last outing on Tuesday, but that his forearm starting bothering him in late August and he tried to pitch through it.

"It's something we'll have to get on aggressively from the start rather than hoping a day here or a day there will help," he said. "It's a condition that's manageable. Just have to do a better job managing it. That starts with me not trying to be a tough guy and going out there and pitching through it. It's a lesson learned in that respect."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Plouffe deals Indians crushing loss in walk-off win

Twins rally in ninth to force extras, go home winners after clutch single

Plouffe deals Indians crushing loss in walk-off win play video for Plouffe deals Indians crushing loss in walk-off win

MINNEAPOLIS -- As Trevor Plouffe ran to first base while watching his bloop single drop in for a walk-off hit against the Indians, he wasn't celebrating wildly until his teammates came to mob him at first base.

It capped another late rally for the Twins, who tied the game with a run in the ninth, before Plouffe delivered a walk-off RBI single off reliever Josh Tomlin in the 10th inning in a 5-4 win at Target Field. But Plouffe said it was tough to celebrate too much knowing the Twins have to settle for playing the role of spoiler for a fourth straight year.

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"We're happy to win these games, but we're not where we want to be," Plouffe said. "If we were on the other side and it was a win to get us closer to the playoffs, I'd be a lot happier. We're still working toward that goal and that can't happen for us until next year, unfortunately."

Danny Santana opened the 10th with a single off left-hander Kyle Crockett before going to third on a single from Brian Dozier. After an intentional walk to Joe Mauer and a strikeout of Kennys Vargas, Tomlin came on and Plouffe blooped an RBI single to center to give the Twins their third straight win and deal a serious blow to Cleveland's remote playoff chances.

"I don't think anybody is quitting," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "We have to show up and play every game like it's our last, and we do."

Minnesota entered the ninth down by a run, but Kurt Suzuki doubled with one out off closer Cody Allen to spark a rally. Oswaldo Arcia followed with a single to left, but pinch-runner Eduardo Nunez was held at third. Aaron Hicks tied the game with an RBI groundout on a ball that was booted by shortstop Jose Ramirez, who was able to get an out at second base, but couldn't start a potential game-ending double play.

"He had a shot," Francona said. "But that would've been a heck of a play."

It saved right-hander Phil Hughes from getting the loss after he was mostly solid, as he gave up four runs on 10 hits over seven innings. He also struck out five without issuing a walk, and has now struck out 181 and walked just 16 in a career-high 201 2/3 innings. It was also his eighth straight start of throwing at least seven innings and he has a 2.64 ERA over that span.

"I really didn't have my best stuff tonight," Hughes said. "I really had to grind it out and battle and keep us as close as I could."

The Indians didn't score until the fourth, when David Murphy started a two-out rally with a double before scoring on an RBI single from Lonnie Chisenhall, who reached second on the throw home. Mike Aviles followed with an RBI single to give the Indians their first lead.

After the Twins tied it in the fourth, Cleveland took the lead in the sixth with Michael Brantley connecting on a solo blast for his 20th homer of the year. The Indians added an insurance run in the seventh on a sacrifice fly from Michael Bourn.

Arcia opened the scoring with a solo shot off Indians right-hander Trevor Bauer in the third inning. It was Arcia's 19th of the year and his fourth off Bauer this season. An inning later, Vargas crushed a high-arcing solo blast to right field to tie the game. It was Vargas' ninth of the year.

"I just thought it was a routine fly ball," said Vargas, whose mother was in the stands to see him play in the Majors in person for the first time. "I ran to first and the ball just go. So I'll take it."

The Twins didn't score again until the seventh, when Mauer and Vargas both singled with nobody out to knock Bauer from the game. Reliever Scott Atchison struck out Plouffe and Suzuki, but Arcia came through with an RBI single off left-hander Marc Rzepczynski.

"He had great swings all night," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Arcia, who had three hits and two RBIs. "He really swung the bat well. He had the big home run and a couple nice swings. He hit one off the lefty and stayed in there real nice."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Twins shut down Perkins for season with forearm injury

Twins shut down Perkins for season with forearm injury play video for Twins shut down Perkins for season with forearm injury

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins closer Glen Perkins was diagnosed with a left forearm strain and secondary nerve irritation in his forearm and will be shut down for the rest of the season, Twins general manager Terry Ryan said Friday.

Perkins had his entire left arm examined by team doctors on Tuesday and Wednesday, as he underwent MRI exams on his shoulder, elbow and forearm. He was diagnosed with a forearm strain and also is suffering from nerve irritation in his forearm. But his neck and shoulder were fine, as was his ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow.

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"It's actually good news," Ryan said. "It's a very manageable situation. I'm not concerned about it right now. It seems like we're in good shape. All he needs to do is some of the maintenance and exercises and strengthening and he'll be good to go."

Perkins is scheduled to rehab his forearm over the next month or two and will be ready for the start of next season, according to Ryan. But Perkins will miss out on participating in Major League Baseball's five-game series against Japan's National Team in November. Perkins was on the preliminary roster.

Perkins, 31, finishes the season with a 3.65 ERA in 63 appearances. The left-hander struck out 66 and walked 11 while picking up 34 saves in 41 opportunities.

He struggled in September while dealing with neck stiffness and the forearm strain, as he posted a 13.50 over his last six appearances. His last outing came Tuesday, when he gave up a go-ahead three-run homer in an eventual 4-3 win over the Tigers.

With Perkins out, right-hander Jared Burton will serve as closer for the Twins.

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Arcia returns, but Escobar still resting injured shoulder

Arcia returns, but Escobar still resting injured shoulder play video for Arcia returns, but Escobar still resting injured shoulder

MINNEAPOLIS -- Right fielder Oswaldo Arcia, who has been dealing with back stiffness, returned to the lineup on Friday against the Indians, but shortstop Eduardo Escobar remains sidelined with a jammed right shoulder.

Arcia wasted no time making his presence known, knocking a solo homer and RBI single in the Twins' 5-4 extra-inning win over the Indians.

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Arcia sustained the injury while taking a swing and a miss in Monday's game against the Tigers. He missed the next two games before returning to action Friday. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Arcia came into his office before the game to tell him he was ready to return.

"When Arcia walks in, you're always wondering [what he'll say], but he came in saying he wanted to play," Gardenhire said before the game. "So it's nice to see him come in and let me know. That's a good thing."

Escobar, meanwhile, jammed his right shoulder while making a diving stop in Tuesday's game against the Tigers. He had an MRI exam on Wednesday, and it showed no structural damage. So he's still day to day, but did progress to throwing on Friday. Rookie Danny Santana started at shortstop in his absence.

"He played some light catch," Gardenhire said. "His arm isn't great. But they're pretty excited back in the training room he can play catch. He's definitely day to day and I'm not sure how long he's going to be out. I still don't know what would happen if he dove again."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Swarzak to make another start in place of Milone

Swarzak to make another start in place of Milone play video for Swarzak to make another start in place of Milone

MINNEAPOLIS -- Right-hander Anthony Swarzak will make another spot start in place of injured left-hander Tommy Milone on Sunday against the Indians.

Swarzak, who has a 4.42 ERA in 77 1/3 innings this year, will be making his third spot of the year. His last one came on Monday against the Tigers, and he gave up six runs on 11 hits over 4 1/3 innings but took a no-decision in an eventual Twins loss.

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There remains a chance Milone returns this season, but he's still suffering from neck stiffness and hasn't started a game since Sept. 2. He was originally skipped in the rotation after suffering from shoulder fatigue, but felt stiffness in his neck while throwing a bullpen on Saturday.

"He had a shot in his neck," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He's throwing long toss. But he has to go through the whole process and throw a bullpen. But step one is long toss. After that, if he's OK, he'll throw a bullpen after that, if he's OK, we can get him in a start."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Inbox: How can club improve next season?

Beat reporter Rhett Bollinger answers Twins fans' questions

Inbox: How can club improve next season? play video for Inbox: How can club improve next season?

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins' season is winding down, and the club is heading toward a fourth straight season with at least 90 losses.

Minnesota hung around .500 through most of the early part of the season and entered the All-Star break at 44-50, but the club has gone just 21-37 since and is 65-87 with 10 games to go.

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It's been another trying year for the Twins, and there remain several questions about what they need to do to turn it around. So with that in mind, here's the final Inbox of the regular season:

What's been the biggest reason for the Twins' struggles this year? It just seems like they can't put it all together. When the pitching is good, they can't hit. And vice versa.
-- Barry L., St. Paul, Minn.

Starting pitching has been the club's biggest issue for four years now. Twins starters have combined for a 5.08 ERA that ranks as the worst mark in the Majors this season. Minnesota also ranked last in that category last year with a 5.26 ERA.

Phil Hughes has been the only consistent starter throughout the year, while Kyle Gibson has been mostly solid but has struggled recently. Ricky Nolasco has looked better of late, but it doesn't mask his 5.34 ERA in 25 starts in the first season of a four-year, $49 million deal.

The bullpen also hasn't been as good as it was last season, posting a 3.82 ERA after a 3.50 ERA in 2013. It's led to a few late-inning meltdowns .

It's hard to blame the offense, as the Twins rank sixth in the Majors with 670 runs scored. It's a marked improvement over last year, when Minnesota scored just 614 runs to finish 25th in the Majors.

So it's obvious the Twins need to upgrade their rotation next year, which leads right into the next question.

What areas do you expect the Twins to address via free agency or trade this offseason?
-- Pat O., Minnetonka, Minn.

The Twins aren't likely to be big players in free agency -- at least for position players -- because they have so many top prospects coming up.

Minnesota has Trevor Plouffe at third base, with Miguel Sano waiting in the wings, while Byron Buxton is the center fielder of the future despite Danny Santana's emergence. Santana is likely to move back to his natural position of shortstop to share time with Eduardo Escobar, who could move into a super-utility role.

Joe Mauer is firmly entrenched at first base, as are Brian Dozier at second and Kurt Suzuki at catcher. Kennys Vargas has played well enough to get a shot at designated hitter, while Oswaldo Arcia figures to be in right field.

The only position they could really look to upgrade via free agency would be left field, but they could just opt to use Jordan Schafer and Aaron Hicks there. Former Twins outfielder Michael Cuddyer could be an intriguing target for a corner-outfield spot, but it's just speculation on my part at this point.

So really, the Twins should be looking to add a top-tier starter and perhaps some bullpen help for next year. Minnesota has been hesitant to spend top dollar for an ace, and the commitment to Nolasco hasn't panned out so far. But that shouldn't stop the club from trying to sign an elite starting pitcher to help anchor the rotation along with Hughes.

Hughes, Nolasco and Gibson figure to be among the starting five, and the Twins have several other candidates to fill in the rotation such as Tommy Milone and Mike Pelfrey and prospects Trevor May and Alex Meyer.

But Minnesota should take a hard look at some of the top options on the market such as James Shields, Jon Lester and Max Scherzer. Given the Twins' history, it might be unlikely they'll do it, but they have the payroll flexibility and starting pitching is a clear need.

Why does Rick Anderson keep getting a pass year in and year out for how poor the starting pitching is? Most coaches have been rearranged, or reassigned during these losing years, except for him.
-- Ryan R., North St. Paul, Minn.

The short answer is there is only so much a pitching coach can do with the talent he's given. The Twins' rotation has struggled over the last four years, but Anderson hasn't exactly had many top arms to work with.

I get the frustration when Minnesota fans see pitchers such as Francisco Liriano and Vance Worley depart and have success elsewhere, but Anderson also deserves some credit for his work with Hughes this year and even for helping Glen Perkins develop into a top closer. So in that sense, it goes both ways. Anderson isn't the problem, as it's been more about a lack of talent in the rotation over the last four years than anything.

Santana has been having a great year. What do you think his chances of winning Rookie of the Year are?
-- Scott M., Los Angeles

In other years, Santana could've had a real chance to win the American League Rookie of the Year Award, but he has no chance their year with the kind of season Jose Abreu is having with the White Sox.

But Santana figures to get some support and could finish within the top three in the balloting. He's been one of the club's best hitters, with a slash line of .324/.360/.484, while also filling in capably in center field despite playing out of position. Santana figures to be a big part of the Twins' future whether he moves back to his natural shortstop position or sticks in center until Buxton is ready.

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Twins' big sixth trips up Tigers again

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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins, struggling for a fourth straight season, are stuck playing the role of spoiler yet again this September. But they have been trying to make the most of it, and they did just that with an impressive series against the American League Central-leading Tigers.

The Twins battled from a six-run deficit only to lose a heartbreaker in the ninth on Monday, but bounced back with two straight victories to get their first series win since taking two of three from the Astros in August. In the finale on Wednesday, right-hander Kyle Gibson weathered some early struggles and the offense picked him up to lead the Twins to an 8-4 win at Target Field.

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"We want to finish strong," Gibson said. "We're playing a lot of teams in the playoff race, and we want to be spoilers. That's kind of our mentality."

Gibson was shaky in his first two innings, giving up two runs in the first before allowing two more in the second. But he settled down from there, giving up four runs on seven hits and three walks over six innings to get his 12th win.

"That made my night," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I was proud of Gibby for the way he hung in there."

Gibson outpitched left-hander David Price, who surrendered five runs on eight hits and three walks over 5 2/3 innings to fall to 3-4 since joining the Tigers.

The Tigers jumped all over Gibson early, scoring two runs in the first on a pair of RBI singles from J.D. Martinez and Nick Castellanos with two outs. Detroit scored two more times in the second, with Torii Hunter singling home a run and Miguel Cabrera doubling him home.

But Price also had trouble in the first inning, giving up three runs. After Danny Santana led off with a triple, Brian Dozier sent him home with an RBI single before scoring on a one-out single from Trevor Plouffe. Kurt Suzuki plated the third run with a double to left field.

The Twins didn't score again until the sixth, when they plated three to take the lead. Aaron Hicks started the rally with a one-out double before scoring on a two-out double by Santana that knocked Price from the game.

"I just didn't make enough good pitches, and that's a tough thing to swallow," Price said. "Especially getting two runs before I even take the mound and giving up two more in the second inning."

Right-hander Al Alburquerque was brought in to face Dozier, but he served up a triple off the top of the left-field wall that just missed being a home run. Lefty Kyle Ryan then went in to face Joe Mauer, who promptly gave the Twins an insurance run with an RBI double down the left-field line.

The Twins added two runs in the eighth on an RBI single by Santana, who finished a homer short of the cycle, and an RBI single from Mauer, who had two RBIs on the night.

"We're finding ways to score runs," Gardenhire said. "I think if our pitching staff can give us a chance, it's always a lot of fun. It doesn't matter who is out there now. We're swinging the bats really well."

After Gibson departed, right-hander Ryan Pressly tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings. He got out of a big jam in the seventh, when the Tigers had runners at second and third with one out after Cabrera doubled for his fourth hit of the game. But Victor Martinez grounded out to Mauer at first base and Cabrera ran to third base even though Hunter held, causing Cabrera to get caught between second and third to end the inning.

"I'll take that blame," Hunter said. "I might have took a jump, took a couple quick steps and got Miggy off a little too far and got him in no-man's land."

The gaffe cost the Tigers, who saw their lead over the Royals fall to just a half-game after losing two of three to the Twins.

"It's a fun atmosphere," said Mauer, who had six RBIs in the series. "It's a good team over there. They're playing to get into the postseason. The kind of environment we played in the last three games facing a couple of former Cy Young Award winners, you can get gain some good experience."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Gardy gets call at first base overturned

Gardy gets call at first base overturned play video for Gardy gets call at first base overturned

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire successfully challenged a play at first base to end the top of the sixth inning of Wednesday's game against the Tigers.

With two outs, Rajai Davis hit a slow roller back to pitcher Kyle Gibson, who threw to first in an attempt to get the speedy Davis. Davis was initially ruled safe by first-base umpire Jim Joyce.

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Gardenhire came out and challenged, and after a review that lasted two minutes and 34 seconds, the call on the field was overturned.

Gardenhire has now challenged 36 calls this season and had 20 overturned.

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Hicks the hero as Twins walk off over Tigers

Hicks the hero as Twins walk off over Tigers play video for Hicks the hero as Twins walk off over Tigers

MINNEAPOLIS -- It was the type of game the Twins have lost in heartbreaking fashion too many times this season. But on Tuesday night it was they who flipped the script on the Tigers.

Closer Glen Perkins blew a save chance in the top of the ninth by giving up a go-ahead three-run homer to J.D. Martinez with two outs, but the Twins rallied against Tigers closer Joe Nathan for two runs in the bottom of the ninth to hand the division-leading Tigers a 4-3 loss at Target Field.

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"It was so emotional," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "These guys are fighting to win a pennant. We're fighting to win a ballgame. A big three-run homer from them, but our guys keep coming back. It's just an emotional time, and there was a lot of emotion in the dugout. I'm proud of these guys."

With the Twins down by a run, Trevor Plouffe worked a one-out walk before being removed for pinch-runner Doug Bernier. Kurt Suzuki came through with a game-tying RBI double past a diving Ezequiel Carrera to score Bernier before also coming out for a pinch-runner, Chris Herrmann.

"Suzuki, what can I say? He placed one right in a spot," Nathan said. "Carrera gave it 110 percent. I love seeing the hustle, love seeing him going all out, trying to make a play in a big situation. Unfortunately, the worst thing happens, and that's a ball getting past him on a dive."

The missed play by Carrera set the stage for Aaron Hicks, who was the hero with a walk-off RBI infield single to shortstop with two outs to help bail out Perkins.

"It was good for us to come back to get the win," Hicks said. "We did what we had to do and scored some runs. It's a big win for us. Any win we get against the Tigers is good. I think it goes toward us doing what we need to do to beat them."

Perkins entered the ninth with a two-run lead but gave up a bloop double to Torii Hunter with one out and a single to Miguel Cabrera before serving up the three-run blast to right field to Martinez with two outs.

Gardenhire is worried about Perkins, who has struggled this month with a 13.50 ERA in six outings while dealing with stiffness in his neck.

"I'm concerned," Gardenhire said. "We'll talk with him tomorrow. There's a lot of frustration tonight, so we'll talk tomorrow, because he's coming off that thing and has had a couple of outings where the velocity is down. We just want him to be honest and not hurt himself."

The blown save spoiled a strong outing by Ricky Nolasco, who has been pitching better of late, and who scattered just five hits and a walk with five strikeouts in one of his best outings of the season. He has a 3.09 ERA over his last five outings but still hasn't picked up a win since July 1.

"This was one of his best," Suzuki said. "The big thing for me was the strike percentage. If you look at the strike percentage, if it's up over 70 percent, that's a good thing."

Nolasco was backed offensively by Kennys Vargas, who had a big night against Tigers right-hander Rick Porcello. Vargas went 3-for-4 with a single, a triple and a homer, in that order, before grounding out against Nathan to open the ninth.

"I was just trying to get on base and score a run," Vargas said about going for the cycle in his last at-bat. "I wasn't thinking about the double or nothing."

Vargas reached on an infield single in the second inning before connecting on his first career triple to lead off the fourth. He hit a ball to deep left-center that caromed hard off the wall, allowing him to reach third. He scored on a two-out single by Suzuki to give the Twins the lead.

Vargas gave the Twins an insurance run with a solo blast off Porcello with one out in the sixth. It was his eighth homer of the season, and it came on a 3-2 changeup.

"He's a big boy," said Porcello, who gave up just two runs over eight innings but was saddled with a no-decision. "He's got some juice. Didn't make great pitches against him, but at the same time, he squared them up, so he had a nice night."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Perkins named Twins' Clemente nominee

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MINNEAPOLIS -- Closer Glen Perkins was named Minnesota's 2014 nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet, the Twins and Major League Baseball announced Tuesday.

Perkins is one of 30 finalists for the annual award, which recognizes a Major League player who best represents the game through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement.

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"It's a great honor," Perkins said. "It's every bit about [my wife], Alisha, as it is about me. She's pushed me and us as a family moreso than anyone. With the success I've had on the field and the opportunities I've been given, it's my name and I do what I can, but with baseball it's hard for me to participate as much as I'd like. So she's the driving the force behind it."

Perkins will be honored during a pregame ceremony at Target Field on Wednesday, which is the 13th annual Roberto Clemente Day. Clemente, a 15-time All-Star and Hall of Famer, died in a plane crash on New Year's Eve 1972 while attempting to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.

"The Twins are privileged to have a player like Glen Perkins, who is so active in our local community," said Bryan Donaldson, executive director of the Twins Community Fund. "Giving back to the community is a core value of the Minnesota Twins, and none of our players represent that commitment as strongly as Mr. Perkins."

Perkins, a native of Stillwater, Minn., is involved in many charitable endeavors throughout the Twins Cities, including the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Strikeout Cancer, and he donates tickets to underprivileged children through the TwinsCare program. His biggest fundraiser is the annual Fifteens 5K, which benefits the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

"He gets what it's about to be in this community and play for the Minnesota Twins," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He knows how fortunate he is, because he grew up here. He gets all that. He's big in the community, and his family is here. He's taken on that role of being the guy to go to when you need something from him. Glen steps up."

Fans can vote at ChevyBaseball.com for one of the 30 club nominees beginning on Wednesday. Voting ends on Oct. 6, and the winner of the fan vote will receive a vote among those cast by the selection panel of dignitaries, which includes Commissioner Bud Selig; MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred; MLB goodwill ambassador and wife of Roberto Clemente, Vera Clemente; and representatives from Chevrolet, MLB Network, MLB.com, ESPN, FOX Sports and TBS, among others. The winner will be announced during the World Series.

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Twins announce four-year pact with Chattanooga

Minnesota changes Double-A affiliation after parting ways with New Britain

The Twins are getting a change of their Double-A affiliate. Minnesota, which had been affiliated with New Britain since 1995, announced a four-year deal with the Chattanooga Lookouts on Wednesday.

Chattanooga, previously affiliated with the Dodgers, will team with the Twins in its first American League partnership since 1987. The Lookouts were a Seattle affiliate that season. Terry Ryan, the Twins' general manager and executive vice president, issued a statement about the new arrangement.

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"Although we had a long-standing successful tenure with the New Britain Rock Cats, the Twins organization is very excited to begin this partnership and compete in the Southern League," said Ryan as part of an official press release. "We rely a great deal on our Minor League affiliates and look forward to building a relationship with the Chattanooga Lookouts. This is an important time in our growth and player development and we are confident this will strengthen those efforts."

In some ways, the Twins are going back to their roots. The Lookouts were an affiliate of the Washington Senators from 1932-59, and in 1961, the Senators became the Twins. Chattanooga won three titles as a Washington affiliate and featured future Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew for two years.

Chattanooga was affiliated with the Dodgers from 2009-14 and finished the current season as the North Division champions of the Southern League. The Twins, who boast a rich farm system full of prospects, hope to continue that success in the coming seasons with Chattanooga.

"We are excited to partner with a team that has a deep history with the Chattanooga Lookouts," said Lookouts president and general manager Rich Mozingo. "The Minnesota Twins are an upstanding organization and present an incredible opportunity for the Lookouts and the city of Chattanooga."

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Mauer's four RBIs not enough after Fien falters

Mauer's four RBIs not enough after Fien falters play video for Mauer's four RBIs not enough after Fien falters

MINNEAPOLIS -- It was the kind of loss that's become all too familiar for the Twins this season. They've fought their way back into countless games after falling behind early, only to come up short, and that was again the case on Monday night.

The Twins erased a six-run deficit, a rally keyed by a pair of two-run singles from Joe Mauer, but Casey Fien served up back-to-back homers to Torii Hunter and Miguel Cabrera in the ninth in an 8-6 loss to the Tigers at Target Field.

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"These guys busted their tail out there," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It was a tough loss. We gave it everything we had. They stayed after [it] against one of the best pitchers in the game. They had some great hits and some great at-bats, but unfortunately, it ends up on the bad side of it."

After being down, 6-0, the Twins tied it in the eighth after Joba Chamberlain, pitching in relief of Max Scherzer, walked Danny Santana and Brian Dozier to open the inning. Left-hander Phil Coke came in, and after a successful double steal, Mauer hit the ninth pitch of the at-bat to left field to send home both runs and tie the score.

But the Tigers retook the lead in the ninth, with Hunter connecting on the first pitch he saw from Fien for a go-ahead homer. Just two pitches later, Cabrera homered to give the Tigers an insurance run.

"It's frustrating," Fien said. "I knew they were going to be aggressive. They always are aggressive with me. They know I'm going to attack, and it backfired on me."

Fien was the fourth reliever used by the Twins after Anthony Swarzak struggled in a spot start. Swarzak, making his second start of the season with Tommy Milone scratched due to stiffness in his neck, went 4 1/3 innings, giving up six runs on 11 hits and a walk with two strikeouts.

"They're aggressive when they need to be," Swarzak said. "When nobody's on, they'll take strike one, but with runners on, they're up there to do damage."

The Tigers scored in a hurry, with two runs in the first inning. Cabrera started the rally with a double off the right-field wall. Victor Martinez followed with an RBI double before scoring on a single by J.D. Martinez.

Detroit added three runs in the fourth, with J.D. Martinez opening the inning with a double to right field on a ball misjudged by Oswaldo Arcia, who thought the ball was going to hit the wall, but it bounced on the warning track. After a single from Nick Castellanos, Bryan Holaday scored Martinez with a double before Andrew Romine singled home two runs.

"We missed some plays," Gardenhire said. "We had some balls we could have caught out there. But he was definitely leaving balls up, and they were jumping on him early."

The Tigers padded their lead in the fifth after the Twins intentionally walked J.D. Martinez to load the bases with one out. Reliever A.J. Achter was brought in, and he promptly walked Castellanos to send home a run. Achter was able to get out of the jam with the help of Chris Parmelee, who threw out Victor Martinez as he tried to tag up on a fly ball to left field.

The offense helped back Scherzer, who didn't have his best stuff. He gave up four runs on seven hits and a walk over seven innings and was stuck with a no-decision.

The Twins didn't get a hit until the fourth inning and didn't get on the board until the fifth, when Arcia launched a solo blast into the second deck in right field. It was his 18th homer of the season.

But Minnesota made it a game in the sixth, with three runs, a rally sparked by a two-run single from Mauer after he'd fallen behind, 0-2, in the count. Kennys Vargas followed with a single before Trevor Plouffe plated Mauer with a sacrifice fly to right field.

Mauer tied a season high with his four RBIs, but ultimately, it wasn't enough for the Twins, as Joakim Soria worked around a leadoff double in the ninth to get the save.

"Those guys never give up over there," Hunter said. "They kept chipping away. Joe Mauer almost beat us himself. But we came through in the end."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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MRI reveals inflammation in Milone's neck

MRI reveals inflammation in Milone's neck play video for MRI reveals inflammation in Milone's neck

MINNEAPOLIS -- Left-hander Tommy Milone was diagnosed with inflammation in his neck after undergoing an MRI on Monday, general manager Terry Ryan said.

Milone was scheduled to start against the Tigers on Monday but was scratched after he couldn't complete a bullpen session on Saturday because of stiffness in his neck. But the MRI showed only inflammation, no structural damage, so the Twins are hopeful he'll be able to pitch again this season.

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Right-hander Anthony Swarzak made a spot start in Milone's place on Monday.

"[Milone] has a stiff neck and inflammation, so we're going to treat that and try to get him healthy and see where it goes," Ryan said. "There's a possibility [he'll pitch again this season]."

Milone, 27, who was acquired from the A's on July 31 in the trade that sent Sam Fuld to Oakland, last pitched on Sept. 2. He skipped a start after dealing with shoulder fatigue, but now will be pushed back even further by the neck injury.

He has a 4.23 ERA in 21 starts this season but a 7.40 ERA in five outings since joining the Twins.

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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May fans career-high 10 as Twins top White Sox

Rookie allows three runs in six innings; Plouffe, Schafer crank HRs

May fans career-high 10 as Twins top White Sox play video for May fans career-high 10 as Twins top White Sox

CHICAGO -- Rookie right-hander Trevor May admits that he got away from his approach over the course of his first month in the Majors.

But May said he returned to his aggressive tactics on Sunday -- overcoming a fourth-inning jam --and led the Twins to a 6-4 win over the White Sox to avoid a three-game sweep.

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May tossed a career-high 10 strikeouts to the 23 batters he faced, and allowed three earned runs on five hits with no walks over six innings.

With no outs in the bottom of the fourth, May allowed two runs on four straight hits that prompted a mound meeting with pitching coach Rick Anderson, who urged May to "trust his stuff."

May struck out the next three batters on 10 pitches.

"I'm going to be aggressive all day," May said. "There's not going to be a point where I try to be too fine because that's hurt me in the past," said the rookie, who struck out the next three and stranded two to end the inning.

"I just told myself if they're going to score runs, they're going to score them because they're hitting the ball, not because I'm not going after them."

The 24-year-old threw 19 first-pitch strikes. He said his success was predicated on his curveball, what he called his second best pitch to the changeup, which he estimated was only used 10 times in the 93 pitches he threw.

"I used it early and I felt it was good in the bullpen, so we tried to get it going," May said. "Kurt [Suzuki] saw that it was going to be a big pitch for me today and we went with it."

May's six innings also prevented manager Ron Gardenhire from turning to the bullpen earlier than planned -- particularly important given that Anthony Swarzak, a relegated reliever, is slated to start Monday against the Tigers due to rotation attrition.

Jared Burton, Casey Fien and Glen Perkins -- who all pitched in Saturday's doubleheader -- tossed an inning each, and allowed a combined one earned run on two hits.

Jordan Schafer went 2-for-4, belting his first homer of the year, stealing two bases and manufacturing an insurance run in the ninth that helped the Twins hold on.

In 33 games with the Twins, Schafer is batting .300, with seven of his 32 hits going for extra bases. He was hitting .163 in 63 games when claimed off Braves waivers on Aug. 3.

"It's been awesome. I get to play every day, get at-bats," Schafer said of his stint in Minnesota. "Guys are great here in the clubhouse. Gardy [manager Ron Gardehire] has been great, Bruno [hitting coach Tom Brunansky], the coaches, so it's been a real treat to be here."

Schafer started the latter two games of the weekend series in center field, the post he played during the bulk of his career in Atlanta. He's largely been relegated to left during his Twins tenure.

"You try to get work in left field, but I've played so many games and innings in center that it's just kind of nice to be back there and play a couple games there," Schafer said.

Schafer helped the Twins create a 4-0 cushion for the second game in a row -- this time holding on against White Sox starter Hector Noesi.

Trevor Plouffe led off the second inning with his second homer in as many days, picking up his third RBI of the series. Eduardo Escobar hit a sacrifice fly an out later that scored Oswaldo Arcia to give the Twins a 2-0 lead.

Minnesota extended the margin to 4-0 on a two-run homer by Schafer with two outs in the fourth. It was Schafer's first homer since joining the Twins, and snapped a drought of 345 plate appearances without one dating back to June 23 of last year while with the Braves.

"Just off a little bit with my mechanics," Noesi said. "I'm trying to stay there and give my team six or seven innings."

He lasted 6 2/3 frames, allowing five earned runs on eight hits and two walks with three strikeouts.

The Twins return to Target Field for a three-game series against the Tigers riding the heels of a 2-4 road trip.

Daniel Kramer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Twins go up in ninth, but drop Game 2 on walk-off

Suzuki delivers pinch-hit double, but Perkins allows game-winning HR

Twins go up in ninth, but drop Game 2 on walk-off play video for Twins go up in ninth, but drop Game 2 on walk-off

CHICAGO -- The Twins endured their second doubleheader sweep in three days, but Saturday's 7-6 loss to the White Sox in the nightcap to piggyback the 5-1 defeat in the matinee was particularly deflating.

The Twins blew three leads, the last one coming with one out in the bottom of the night, when Glen Perkins dealt a full-count, two-run, walk-off home run to Dayan Viciedo -- handing Minnesota its eighth loss in nine games.

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"It was a long day, a tough day and probably about as tough a loss as you'll have," manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Perkins threw 24 pitches to three batters, including a 14-pitch duel with White Sox slugger Jose Abreu that yielded a walk to lead off the inning. The closer then forced a fielder's choice from Avisail Garcia before giving up the homer to Viciedo.

"That's tough when you start an inning out like that," said Perkins, who hadn't pitched since Sept. 4. "I'm trying to get out of there as quick as I can, and the first guy I see is 14 pitches, and I don't get him out. It's tough. Got the next guy quick, but Viciedo worked me good and got a fastball. I was trying to throw it down and away like I did to Garcia, and it stayed out over the middle and he hit it.

"We played good enough to win tonight, and it's frustrating that they got the ball to me and I didn't get the job done."

Pinch-hitting Kurt Suzuki put the Twins in front, 6-5, in the top of the ninth with a two-out double that scored Aaron Hicks, who led off with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and to third on a double by Chris Parmelee, who was out trying to get to third, not realizing Hicks waited to see if the ball was caught.

In the seventh, White Sox pinch-hitter Conor Gillaspie tied the game at 5 with an RBI single to center after Trevor Plouffe gave the Twins a 5-4 lead with a solo home run in the sixth, one of five homers in the game. Abreu tied the game at 4 with a solo shot in the fifth off starter Logan Darnell, who allowed four earned runs on seven hits and two walks with five strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings.

"I think I was just trying to be too fine," Darnell said. "Then I got behind and I had to throw one over, and [Abreu] will make you pay. But I was just trying to be too perfect with him because I walked him in the first inning then hung the changeup to Garcia right after him. He's good, especially if he's got the count in his favor."

The Twins took a 4-0 lead in the first with an RBI single by Plouffe and a three-run homer by Oswaldo Arcia in consecutive at-bats. Garcia trimmed the margin to 4-3 with a three-run homer in the bottom of the frame.

Each team had just one hit over the next 3 1/2 scoreless innings before Abreu tied the game and picked up his 100th RBI on his homer, his first since Aug. 22. Abreu went 4-for-6 with three extra-base hits and two walks in the doubleheader.

"The thing I'm most thankful for is this organization for the opportunity to play this game at this level," Abreu said through an interpreter. "I'm happy about 100 RBIs, I'm happy about 34 home runs. I'm just happy how I've been able to do this season. I'm happy my family is here with me. I'm happy for my success."

White Sox right-handed starter Scott Carroll left the game after five innings with a torn fingernail on his pitching hand. Carroll allowed four earned runs, four hits and two walks with two strikeouts.

Chicago closer Jake Petricka was credited with the win despite giving up the go-ahead hit to Suzuki.

In Game 1, Phil Hughes struck out a career-high 11, but the Twins couldn't support him. Hughes was charged with all five Chicago runs, three earned, on six hits and a walk, tossing 106 pitches over seven-plus innings.

The doubleheader set a Major League record for most combined strikeouts (45) in games that didn't exceed nine innings.

Daniel Kramer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Key connections: Star-Spangled Banner, baseball forever linked

Verses that became National anthem celebrates 200 years, is part of baseball's fabric

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Francis Scott Key never got to see a big league baseball game. He died in 1843, some 26 years before the first professional team was established. But you can imagine his joy if he did get that chance. These days, he'd probably sit in a shiny bleacher seat, waiting for a batting-practice homer with a soft, weathered glove raised high ... in his non-writing hand. Maybe he'd inhale a hot dog while jotting down a few pretty lines for his next song. That would come about an hour before he'd hear the iconic bars of his first one, which, contrary to American lore, does not end with the words, "Play Ball." Odds are he'd be pretty happy at the twilight's last gleaming.

This weekend, the celebration of the 200th anniversary of our national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner," is on, and Key's memory is being rightly feted for his poetic description from the "dawn's early light" of Sept. 14, 1814, at the height of the War of 1812.

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Hours after being stuck on a ship in Baltimore Harbor as the British pounded Fort McHenry in the Battle of Baltimore, Key saw the skies clear from the smoke and the indelible image that "our flag was still there."

The verses were called "The Defence of Fort M'Henry," and it was put to the tune of "To Anacreon in Heaven," a British drinking song purportedly written by John Stafford Smith that had been composed more than 30 years earlier and served as the theme of the Anacreontic Society of London, a men's club of amateur musicians.

Soon after Key wrote the words, a local newspaper gave it the title "The Star-Spangled Banner," and in 1931, it became our official anthem. All the while, another grand tradition steeped in collective nostalgia and American togetherness -- the game of baseball -- was steaming along, gaining prominence in our country's conscience.

Not surprisingly, the national anthem and the National Pastime became stitched together forever, like red laces in white horsehide.

According to John Thorn, the official historian of Major League Baseball, the playing of the national anthem before big league games did not become an everyday tradition until 1942. Taking that into account (and including a slight margin of error based on the lack of documentation regarding split doubleheaders in the earlier days), the Star-Spangled Banner has been heard right before the first pitch of at least the last 121,000 games. Oh, say can you see, indeed.

So with that in mind, 200 years after the night a 35-year-old Washington, D.C.-based attorney known to friends as Frank found himself under a war-torn sky, with honor in his heart and a pen in his hand, we go around the horn with nine things to know about "The Star-Spangled Banner" and its now-eternal link to the national pastime.

1. A first for everything
The first time the song was played at a baseball game was May 15, 1862, at William Cammeyer's Union Grounds park in Brooklyn. It had been converted from an ice skating venue into a field for summer sports, including what, at the time, was known as "base ball." In the midst of the Civil War, a band played "The Star-Spangled Banner."

The first big league Opening Day to feature the eventual anthem took place in Philadelphia on April 22, 1897. The New York Tribune newspaper included a brief and lyrical account of the game: "Opening Day here was a great success. The weather was delightful and the attendance numbered 17,074. The players paraded across the field, company front, and then raised the new flag, while the band played 'The Star Spangled Banner.' "

In spite of all the pageantry, there had to be some accounting for the four errors that led the Phillies to a 5-1 victory over the Giants at the Baker Bowl.

"The game was rather dull and long-drawn out," the article read, "and on the part of the New-Yorkers was somewhat unsteadily played."

2. An unforgettable rendition
The first national anthem played at a World Series game occurred on Sept. 5, 1918, during World War I, when Major League players were in the midst of being drafted into service. The regular season was ordered by the government to be completed by Labor Day, hence the Fall Classic that year was played in September.

The Cubs borrowed Comiskey Park from the White Sox to take advantage of the larger seating capacity, but things got quiet in Game 1, a 1-0 shutout by Red Sox pitcher Babe Ruth. But that game will be forever remembered for what occurred in the seventh inning.

That was when the military band on hand struck up "The Star-Spangled Banner," and the song took on a different meaning. Red Sox third baseman Fred Thomas, for example, was on furlough from the Navy, and he saluted the flag during the playing of the song.

And then the crowd caught on. The New York Times opened its account of the game by writing, "Far different from any incident that has ever occurred in the history of baseball was the great moment of the first world's series game between the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox, which came at Comiskey Park this afternoon during the seventh-inning stretch" and then continued with the play-by-play … of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

"First the song was taken up by a few, then others joined, and when the final notes came, a great volume of melody rolled across the field. It was at the very end that the onlookers exploded into thunderous applause and rent the air with a cheer that marked the highest point of the day's enthusiasm."

The Cubs and Red Sox repeated the tradition for the rest of the Series.

3. Making it official
Even though the Secretary of the Navy in 1889 had designated "The Star-Spangled Banner" as the official song to be played at the raising of the flag, and even though President Woodrow Wilson, a huge baseball fan himself, treated it and referred to it as our national anthem, it had failed to stick in Congress after numerous attempts in the 1920s.

Baseball's increased use of the song prior to games, a petition with millions of signatures, and a nice little push from noted composer John Philip Sousa helped finally get the job done on March 3, 1931, when President Herbert Hoover signed into law the establishment of the song as the official national anthem of the United States of America.

4. A lasting tradition
"The Star-Spangled Banner" still wasn't being played before every baseball game in 1941, but on April 26, 1941, the ball got rolling in the Bronx. As The New York Times reported, "With more war new in the making, president Ed Barrow of the Yankees ordered that 'The Star-Spangled Banner' be played before all games at the Stadium.

"Meanwhile, all continued to go well for the Yankees and [Joe] DiMaggio. He singled home a run in the first and scored twice as New York beat Washington 8-3 for its fourth straight victory."

By the following year, with the country deep in World War II, the anthem became the daily staple of baseball that we know today.

And DiMaggio was still hitting.

5. Controversy hits the field
It was October 1968, and the country was fighting in Vietnam and had already lived through the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. that year. Protests were boiling over in the streets at home, and the Detroit Tigers were hosting the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.

Jose Feliciano was a 23-year-old blind folk singer from Puerto Rico who had scored a hit on the U.S. charts with a cover of The Doors' "Light My Fire," and Tigers radio legend Ernie Harwell invited him to sing the national anthem at Tiger Stadium prior to Game 5.

Feliciano was accompanied in left field by his acoustic guitar and his guide dog, Trudy, and he launched into an emotional, heartfelt, and, well, different version of "The Star-Spangled Banner." He strummed the guitar in a slightly syncopated, Latin-influenced rhythm, careened back and forth from the traditional vocal melody to something more adventurous, and offered the finishing flourish of "Yeah, yeah."

It was bold and innovative and fresh, but it was also many years ahead of its time. Feliciano was booed heartily by the crowd and caused a public uproar that took years to live down.

"Back then, when the anthem was done at ballgames, people couldn't wait for it to be over," Feliciano told The Guardian last month. "And I wanted to make them sit up and take notice and respect the song. I was shocked when I was booed. I felt, 'God, what have I done wrong?' All I was trying to do was create a soulful rendition. I never in my wildest dreams thought I was going to have the country against me, radio stations stop playing me.

"But in part, it was good -- because I ended up meeting my wife. She couldn't understand the injustice and started a fan club, even though we'd never met. We fell in love and the rest is history."

On Oct. 14, 2012, prior to Game 1 of the National League Championship Series at AT&T Park in San Francisco, the same stylized, heartfelt version of the national anthem was performed by Feliciano on his acoustic guitar.

This time the crowd roared.

6. "O"-dience participation
The anthem itself is a tradition, and at Oriole Park in Camden Yards in Baltimore, there's a tradition baked into the tradition. When the song rounds third base and heads for home with, "O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave," the crowd screams the "O" together, celebrating their beloved O's.

This started at the old Memorial Stadium in the club's pennant-winning season of 1979. Out in Section 34 of the upper deck, Orioles superfan Wild Bill Hagy would lead fans in chants of O-R-I-O-L-E-S, with the emphasis on the "O." Mary Powers sat nearby and took the inspiration to another level.

"We would accentuate the 'O' in any word that would have an 'O,' and one night when they were playing the anthem, I thought, 'There's an 'O!' in this song,' and the first time I did it, I remember people turning around and looking like, 'Oh, my God, I can't believe she just did that,' " Powers recently told WBAL-TV.

"Well, Wild Bill had a little grin on his face, so the next night, he did it with me, and once he put his blessing on it, everybody started to do it."

Orioles fans still do it -- loudly -- and will likely be doing it in October this year.

7. Setting the (low) Barr
We all know now that Feliciano's rendition was eventually respected, if not appreciated. We all also know now that the version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" performed by comedian Roseanne Barr before a Padres-Reds doubleheader at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego on July 25, 1990, was not.

Barr screeched a fast, off-key rendition of the anthem that drew loud boos midway through, and when she was finished, she grabbed her crotch and spit, as if to mimic a ballplayer. The joke bombed, she was lambasted all over TV and in the newspapers, and she inspired President George H. W. Bush to call the whole act "disgraceful."

Bush's comment was met with bipartisan approval.

8. A hymn of healing
The horrific events of Sept. 11, 2001, changed the United States forever, but not only in tragic ways. The courage, brotherhood and human decency shown that day in New York, Washington, D.C., and on a hijacked airplane that would crash in a Pennsylvania field showed our country's strength and will to persevere.

The emotion was palpable 10 days later when the Mets played the Braves at Shea Stadium in the first professional sporting event in New York City since the attacks. Marc Anthony delivered a somber rendition without musical accompaniment and the game was played quietly until the eighth inning, when Piazza's two-run home run gave the Mets the lead and got the crowd going again.

"I remember standing on the line during the national anthem -- actually when the bagpipes and band came out -- I said to myself, 'Please, God, give me the strength to get through this,' " Piazza told the New York Daily News in 2008. "I was fortunate to find the strength to hit a home run in that situation. I'm flattered, I'm honored that people put that moment as a time where it helped the city at least have a little bit of joy in a really tough week."

9. 200 and many more
Every year now, we're treated to incredible musical talent on the baseball field. From the seasoned operatic pipes of longtime Yankees national anthem singer Robert Merrill to commercial acts James Taylor, Paul Simon, Sammy Davis Jr., John Legend, Lyle Lovett, the Grateful Dead, Slash from Guns N' Roses, Mary J. Blige, Billy Joel, Idina Menzel, Kelly Clarkson and countless others, it's now a grand American tradition to bring out the best in the business to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the biggest baseball games.

But Sunday, the song itself will shine.

At Fort McHenry in Baltimore, a real-time anniversary program will kick off, with artillery salutes, a reading of the song's four stanzas and a replica 15-star, 15-stripe flag raising at precisely 9 a.m. to commemorate the history that Key had witnessed.

And MLB teams playing at home will show a special video montage of "The Star-Spangled Banner." In conjunction with the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and the program Great Performances, Maryland Public Television has provided the montage originally seen in the PBS production Star-Spangled Banner: The Bicentennial of our National Anthem to the ballparks and to MLB.com and all 30 club websites and official MLB social media channels.

Fittingly, the last game on Sunday will be played at Camden Yards, about three miles away from Fort McHenry, and fittingly, the Orioles will play the Yankees.

We all know what song we'll hear right before the first pitch.

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Hughes out-K'd by Quintana in Twins' Game 1 loss

Minnesota fans 17 times, can't support veteran's career-high 11 whiffs

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CHICAGO -- Phil Hughes fanned a career-high 11 batters, but the Twins came away with their seventh loss in eight games, falling, 5-1, to the White Sox in Game 1 of a Saturday's doubleheader.

Hughes was charged with all five Chicago runs, three earned, on six hits and a walk, tossing 106 pitches over seven-plus innings. The final two runs, however, were scored after he left the game.

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The Twins snapped a Majors-high 379-game streak without double-digit strikeouts by a starter.

"[Reliever Glen] Perkins reminds us all the time," Hughes said of the lengthy streak. "He reminded me in between innings -- he's not shy about superstitions."

Hughes' previous high for strikeouts (10) came against the Twins on July 13, 2013, as a member of the Yankees. White Sox starter Jose Quintana also recorded a benchmark, fanning 13. The teams combined for 29 total strikeouts, two shy of the Major League record in a nine-inning game.

The strikeouts were in large part due to the gaping shadows that hovered around home plate, players said.

"The shadows were tough," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Our guys were definitely saying they were losing the ball. I'm sure it was the same way for them."

Said Hughes: "Us pitchers love it, because they can't see the ball. You're not really in the middle on that subject. If you're a pitcher, you love it. If you're a hitter, you hate it."

The White Sox were able to manufacture runs amid the twilight.

Quintana held the Twins scoreless for seven innings, but he exited after opening the eighth with a walk to Kurt Suzuki, who would score one out later on a single by pinch-hitter Chris Parmelee. Quintana was charged with the one run on three hits and two walks.

"I like when I get a lot of strikeouts," Quintana said. "Sometimes you have games when you don't have too much. But today is more high for me. I feel really good with that. I want to continue."

Said Gardenhire: "He changes speeds. He moves the ball in and out. He'll go in off the plate. He throws a nice little breaking ball in there for effect. Then he goes back out there and keeps painting away, away, away, and he'll give you just enough and make you kind of hang yourself by making you throw that ball away."

A third-inning error by Joe Mauer preceded a two-run homer by Alexei Ramirez that came on a first-pitch fastball. Andy Wilkins had an RBI single in the seventh to bring home Jordan Danks, who led off with a double down the left-field line, confirmed on review.

Pinch-hitter Marcus Semien tacked on another run with an RBI double in the eighth, then Tyler Flowers was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to bring in another.

"I tried to attack the zone as best I could and do the same things I do," Hughes said. "Unfortunately I had a walk early and had to get around that. Just the one pitch I regret, the ball to Ramirez right over the middle of the plate. That was it for the most part."

Saturday marked Minnesota's second twin bill in three days.

Daniel Kramer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Twins challenge, but Danks' double confirmed

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CHICAGO -- The Twins challenged Jordan Danks' double down the left-field line in the seventh inning of Saturday's 5-1 loss to the White Sox in the opener of a doubleheader, and the call was confirmed after a 44-second review.

Danks' double fell just inside fair territory to lead off the inning. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire walked out to third-base umpire Larry Vandover to initiate the review.

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Danks scored an out later on a single to center by Andy Wilkins, extending the White Sox lead to 3-0.

Daniel Kramer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Traditional twin bill reminds Gardy of 'back in the day'

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CLEVELAND -- An outbreak of severe weather in Northeast Ohio left Twins manager Ron Gardenhire feeling nostalgic. Minnesota and the Indians played a traditional doubleheader on Thursday afternoon at Progressive Field, one day after their scheduled evening game was postponed due to thunderstorms.

The Twins have hosted three day-night doubleheaders at Target Field this season, but this marks their first old-school double-dip of 2014.

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"This reminds me of the way things used to be when I was playing," said Gardenhire, who spent five seasons as an infielder with the New York Mets. "There wasn't any time between games, so you just sat in the dugout, ate a sandwich and went on. And you brought the sandwich from home, too, brown-bagging it because you had to."

Given the choice, the second-winningest skipper in Minnesota history said he would rather play traditional doubleheaders, but he understands the financial motivation for the current trend of two separate admissions.

Gardenhire added that there is one disadvantage to playing back-to-back games on the same day, but it isn't even a true inconvenience, compared to years past.

"You do have to work out a timeframe with the other team to use the indoor batting cages, because the guys that don't play in the first game need some preparation," Gardenhire said, breaking into a chuckle. "But come on, there weren't any cages back in the day. You just went out and played. Five minutes was all we needed between games to be ready, because we were tough guys."

Brian Dulik is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Nolasco's gem for naught as bats stay quiet

Right-hander gives up one run, strikes out five in seven innings

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CLEVELAND -- Entering Wednesday, Minnesota was baseball's top-scoring team since August 1, averaging a Major League-high 5.5 runs per game. The Twins looked like a different squad on Thursday afternoon, though, scoring a total of two times as they were swept by the Indians in a doubleheader at Progressive Field.

Left-hander T.J. House limited the Twins to four hits in the second game as Cleveland posted a 2-0 win. In the opener, Indians right-hander Corey Kluber overpowered Minnesota en route to an 8-2 victory.

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"They made it tough on us all day," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We knew it wasn't going to be easy against Kluber, but their kid, House, really pitched well. He was changing speeds, had a nice cutter and changeup, and kept our hitters off-balance. We didn't do anything against him. We didn't do much all day."

Minnesota went 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position and drew one walk in the traditional twin bill, which was scheduled after the teams were rained out on Wednesday night. The Twins claimed the three-game series opener, 4-3, on Tuesday.

Cleveland pulled within 3 1/2 games of the second American League Wild Card berth with the wins, while Minnesota fell to 0-6-2 over its last eight series.

"You don't have to do much scoring when you have this type of pitching around," Indians center fielder Michael Bourn said. "We know we're fighting a tough fight, but we're up for the challenge."

Right-hander Ricky Nolasco (5-11) did his part to keep the Twins close in the second game, throwing a season-high 117 pitches over seven innings. He allowed one run on a fourth-inning homer by Carlos Santana, didn't issue a walk and struck out five.

Cleveland added an insurance run in the eighth when Santana singled off Minnesota reliever Caleb Thielbar to score Bourn.

"One pitch got me, and I threw it right where I wanted it to Santana," said Nolasco, who has gone seven starts without a win dating back to July 1. "You've got to tip your hat to him, because he's really hot right now. That's the way this game goes. It's hard sometimes."

Twins shortstop Doug Bernier, making his first start of the season, was the only player to reach third base against House. The 34-year-old journeyman, who was recalled from Triple-A Rochester on September 2, went 1-for-2 in his 38th career big league game.

House (3-3) matched his career high by tossing seven scoreless innings, allowing singles in the first, second, third and sixth. Cody Allen issued a leadoff walk to pinch-hitter Joe Mauer in the ninth before earning his 20th save.

"Their pitchers were very tough, especially in the second game, because we had been playing all day," Minnesota center fielder Danny Santana said.

Santana went 1-for-5 combined in both contests. It was the rookie's first action since suffering a lower back strain on Saturday.

Twins closer Glen Perkins also was in uniform and available, but did not pitch. He has not appeared in a game since September 4 because of a stiff neck.

Oswaldo Arcia led Minnesota with three hits on the day, while rookie Kennys Vargas had two singles and drove in a run in the opener. Trevor Plouffe accounted for the Twins' other RBI by singling home Mauer in the ninth inning of Game 1.

"Doubleheaders are hard to win, but we played two pretty crisp games," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "We didn't knock the ball out of the park, but because of the way we pitched, it ended up being a good day for us."

Brian Dulik is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Gibson roughed up early as Twins drop Game 1

Right-hander gives up seven runs on seven hits, including two homers

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CLEVELAND -- Kyle Gibson started the season strong, but the Twins right-hander is finishing it on the other side of the spectrum.

Gibson was rocked for seven runs in three innings, including homers by Carlos Santana and Yan Gomes, as the Indians cruised to an 8-2 win over Minnesota in Game 1 of a doubleheader on Thursday afternoon at Progressive Field.

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Cleveland collected seven hits and a pair of walks off Gibson (11-11), whose last victory occurred on August 13 at Houston. He is 0-2 with a 7.92 ERA in five subsequent starts, averaging five innings per appearance.

"Gibbie didn't give us much of a chance there," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He couldn't locate, he didn't have command of anything, and he went out of the game early. We're just going to say he had a bad outing."

Gibson didn't record a strikeout during his 60-pitch effort, allowing the top seven hitters in the Indians' batting order to reach base. The 6-foot-6, 207-pound righty insisted that he felt fine physically, but admitted it wasn't his best day.

"It just seemed like everything I was throwing up there, they were hitting," said Gibson. "I felt strong, but there were definitely parts of my game that were lacking. Having a day like this is tough, because I'm running out of starts in the season to work on."

Minnesota took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Kennys Vargas singled home fellow rookie Danny Santana, but didn't score again off Cleveland ace Corey Kluber (15-9) until the ninth.

Right-hander Kluber came within two outs of his second straight complete game, allowing two runs while striking out seven. Kyle Crockett entered after Trevor Plouffe singled home Joe Mauer in the ninth, and retired the last two batters of the game.

"We were facing Klubes, who has great stuff, and he was great," Gardenhire said. "You give him a lead, and he did what a good pitcher does, which is make it stand up. When you get down early against him, you're usually in trouble."

Vargas and Oswaldo Arcia had two hits apiece for Minnesota, while Danny Santana doubled in his first action since suffering a lower back strain Saturday.

Anthony Swarzak, rookie A.J. Achter and Lester Oliveros combined to toss the final five innings for the Twins, allowing one run on three hits.

"I was happy with the way those guys pitched," Gardenhire said. "They held the game in check a little bit, which was nice. We just couldn't get anything going offensively against Kluber."

Brian Dulik is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Gardy: Milone will keep getting the ball

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CLEVELAND -- Tommy Milone's time with the Twins has not gone as expected.

The left-hander is still seeking his first win with the team and missed his last start with a tired pitching arm. He'll return to the mound Saturday against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field sporting an 0-1 record and a 7.84 ERA.

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"Obviously, he's had a hard time with us, so all you can do is give him the ball," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Wednesday at Progressive Field. "The change of scenery has been difficult, but we're trying our best to make the adjustment as easy as possible."

Milone was acquired from Oakland in a July 31 trade for outfielder Sam Fuld, which Minnesota hoped would fortify its rotation. He threw six innings of two-run ball in his Twins debut against Houston on August 11, but it's been all downhill since then.

Four subsequent starts have seen Milone toss a total of 14 2/3 innings and allow 16 earned runs for a 9.82 ERA. He logged just 3 2/3 frames in his last game on September 2 against the White Sox.

"He said he had a dead arm at the time, but he threw a bullpen outside today and told me everything felt good," Gardenhire said. "Now that he's back on line, absolutely he'll make his next start."

With 18 regular season games remaining, Minnesota general manager Terry Ryan believes there is plenty of time for Milone and the rest of the team to head into the offseason feeling good about themselves.

"Players sign on for 162 games; so do I, so does the staff," Ryan said. "The experience you gain is precious, which is why you want to make the most of every one of them."

Brian Dulik is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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