Three taters among Twins' 20 hits in win

Three taters among Twins' 20 hits in win

CLEVELAND-- Francisco Liriano's scoreless-innings streak ended early, but the Twins' bats provided more than enough support.

The Twins hit three homers among 20 hits to make it two of three over the Indians in Sunday's 8-3 victory at Progressive Field.

Jim Thome hit his 569th career home run, tying Rafael Palmeiro for 11th all-time, and Orlando Hudson and Delmon Young also homered off Tribe starter David Huff (1-4). Young finished with four hits.

"It was a nice win for us, and there were a lot of good stories out there," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

In addition to Liriano battling through adversity and Thome's historic homer, catcher Wilson Ramos wrote his way into Twins history with a 4-for-5 day at the plate in his Major League debut.

Starting in place of Joe Mauer, Ramos became the first Minnesota player since Kirby Puckett to have four hits in his Major League debut.

"You had the kid out there," Gardenhire said. "To come out and swing the bat like that, he did a super job."

Liriano (4-0) allowed two first-inning runs, on Grady Sizemore's groundout and on a balk.

Although Liriano and Ramos worked together a couple times during Spring Training, they needed a few batters to get up to speed Sunday.

"The first inning, I think I was trying to overthrow," Liriano said. "I was leaning on my slider. I think I threw too many sliders in the first inning."

After the balk, Liriano focused on his timing.

"I thought they were rushing a little bit early," Gardenhire said. "He had to calm down a little bit. [Pitching coach Rick Anderson] went out and told him he had to slow down. He balked, and that was him speeding up. But those guys over there made him work."

That was the end of Liriano's scoreless streak, but the big lefty gained momentum from there, fanning five consecutive batters between the second and fourth innings.

Liriano checked out after seven innings, finishing with nine strikeouts. He allowed three runs on three walks and eight hits.

"Liriano, of course, stretched out, which we were desperate for that, and we let him go a little deeper than we normally do, but he was fine, said he felt great," Gardenhire said.

Liriano's efforts resulted in a relatively easy night for the Minnesota bullpen. After pitching nine innings in the previous two days, the Twins' relief corps needed only two innings of work to close out the win.

Jesse Crain and Ron Mahay combined to quell an Indians' threat in the eighth inning, and closer Jon Rauch got his first work of the weekend in a scoreless ninth inning.

"We didn't need [Matt Guerrier] and [Alex] Burnett, and we were trying to stay away from those guys," Gardenhire said. "We had to use Mahay, but that was a big out."

Despite the early struggles, Liriano never pitched from behind. Hudson's two-run shot in the first put Minnesota ahead, though the Tribe tied it in the bottom half of that frame.

Thome's home run broke a 2-2 tie and put the Twins up for good. Young made it back-to-back blasts off Huff in the fifth inning.

The Twins put together their eight runs on 20 hits. Rarely struggling to get on base, Minnesota (16-9) left the bases loaded in four innings.

Young finished with four hits, as did Ramos. Hudson had three hits for Minnesota.

Until the seventh inning, though, Minnesota clung to a one-run lead, and all of the Twins' hits weren't lighting up the scoreboard. Nick Punto's two-run single in the seventh broke the game open.

"Nicky got the big hit," Gardenhire said. "I don't know how many times we had bases loaded and one out, finally Nicky came through with a big base hit, just shot one through after a couple guys had missed chances. That was kind of a huge one for us. He gave us a little breathing room.

"We left a lot of guys on the bases, but we hit a lot too," Gardenhire said.

Indians manager Manny Acta put it another way.

"They made Progressive Field look small," he said.

Minnesota added a pair of runs in the ninth on another Punto single and Michael Cuddyer's fielder's choice. Punto should have been out at home, but Tribe backstop Lou Marson couldn't handle the throw from second base, padding Minnesota's lead.

Stephen Ellsesser is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.