Cuddyer launches walk-off vs. Angels

Cuddyer launches walk-off vs. Angels

MINNEAPOLIS -- Falling behind is usually not a good trend for a team to pick up, but the Twins don't seem to mind it too much right now.

The Twins pulled off their seventh come-from-behind win of the season on Wednesday night, courtesy of a pinch-hit walkoff homer by Michael Cuddyer that gave them a 12-10 victory over the Angels.

It was an ending that seemed almost written from a script, as Cuddyer came up to the plate in the bottom of the inning to face former Twins reliever J.C. Romero, who was traded during the offseason.

Cuddyer didn't think facing Romero was to his benefit, since facing a pitcher is different from watching him work. But Cuddyer knew he had to wait for the right pitch, and when he got the changeup he was looking for on an 0-1 count, he did just that.

"I knew he could afford to throw some balls out of the zone, so I just tried to stay back and see pitches," Cuddyer said. "Doing that, I was able to stay back on the changeup, react and hit it out."

Cuddyer's blast was the first pinch-hit walk-off for the Twins since Denny Hocking accomplished the feat against the Angels on Sept. 2, 2001, in a 5-4 Twins win.

Down by as much as five runs early in the game, the Twins proved once again to have an offense that has a never-quit attitude, despite some poor pitching performances that put them in a hole for most of the game.

"These guys are doing what they have to do right now to put runs on the board, especially when we as a staff aren't doing as well as we'd like to," closer Joe Nathan said. "We still have to pick up some slack and when we do, hopefully we can pick them up sometimes, too."

On Wednesday, the Twins' bats had to overcome a rough outing from starter Kyle Lohse, who lasted only 3 1/3 innings before he was pulled. Lohse allowed eight runs on seven hits while walking one and striking out one. He threw a total of 63 pitches.

Lohse (1-2) couldn't seem to get anything going his way. The right-hander gave up a run in each of the first two innings before the Angels pelted Lohse for four runs in the fourth after his team had just taken a 4-2 lead.

"It's pretty frustrating on a night where I felt like I had some good stuff to go out there with, and I just never seemed to get on track," Lohse said. "A couple leadoff doubles the first couple innings, then the two-run homer killed me. I made some bad pitches and that's the way it goes."

Lohse wasn't the only one with troubles, as his replacement, Matt Guerrier, gave up some of the hits that allowed his inherited runners to score in the fourth. Guerrier would also give up a run of his own in the fifth that put the Twins in a five-run hole, 9-4.

Minnesota began its comeback in the sixth as it pulled within one run with another four-run inning. Three runs had scored with two outs when the Twins got a break. Right fielder Vladimir Guerrero misplayed a fly ball by catcher Mike Redmond. One more run would score on the error, pulling the Twins to within one run of the Angels, 9-8.

"We just kept banging away and fortunately enough, they made one mistake, missed a ball which hurt them," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "You've just got to keep playing because you never know what is going to happen in the game."

The Twins looked like they had an opportunity in the bottom of the ninth, trailing 10-9, to pull off a victory at the hands of the Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez.

It was the second time in a week that the Twins would cause one of the top closers in the game to blow a save, as they did it against Mariano Rivera in a 6-5 victory over the Yankees on Saturday.

The Twins appeared to almost have a victory secured in the ninth. Joe Mauer pinch-hit to lead off the inning and hit a single that just passed the outstretched glove of first baseman Casey Kotchman. Rodriguez then walked Ruben Sierra to put runners on first and second. Torii Hunter followed with a single to right to load the bases.

Two straight outs would leave the bases loaded with Lew Ford at the plate. The right fielder got to a 3-2 count before Rodriguez walked him to knot the game at 10.

"It was a great at-bat off a great pitcher there," Gardenhire said. "A tough slider and he takes a walk and ties the ballgame up. It was just an absolutely great at-bat."

Though the Twins weren't able to pull out the win in the ninth and had to go to extra innings, it gave them the opportunity to face Romero.

The pitcher was part of some controversy with the Twins manager at the end of last season, and many in the organization didn't seem too unhappy to see the pitcher go. While no one from the club had anything negative to say about Romero after the game, there was nothing but pure jubilation about the win.

For Romero, picking up the loss against the club he had spent most of his career with was something he didn't want to really discuss.

"Fellas, I'm going to make a statement," Romero said after the game. "This is not about J.C. or the Twins. Losing [stinks]. It would be the same against the Yankees or Tampa Bay."

Most importantly for the Twins, it was another victory. And despite the lengths it took to earn this one, the players just seem happy to keep them coming.

"We hope we start getting the lead early, but a win's a win in our book," Cuddyer said. "We don't care how we do it, just so long as we get it done."

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.