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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Dealing with a depleted lineup, the Minnesota Twins might be starting to take opponents by surprise.
Scott Baker pitched a five-hitter for his fourth career complete game and Alexi Casilla had three hits and scored two runs, leading the Twins to an 8-1 win over Texas Rangers on Saturday.
Delmon Young had three hits and two RBIs for Minnesota, which has won eight of 11.
“We are in last place, so we are not in a tight race like over there,” Casilla said. “So, the pressure is not on us. It’s on the guys on top. So, we’ve been playing without pressure. Just relax and try to go back to .500.”
Baker (4-4) struck out seven in his first complete game since Aug. 14, 2009.
The Twins scored five runs in the first against Colby Lewis (5-7), who allowed six runs and seven hits in 1 1-3 innings.
“I think we all saw a little bit of an ambush there early in the game,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Guys were running around and putting the ball in the right spots.”
Slowly, the defending AL Central champions are starting to regain their form despite a rash of injuries. The resurgence has been spurred by some unlikely sources.
Given the shortstop job out of spring training, Casilla struggled to hit and field. With his everyday job having slipped away, Casilla has responded by hitting .326 since May 15 and providing the speed and defense Gardenhire was seeking.
Since being recalled from the minors June 2, Ben Revere has hit safely in 12 of his 14 games and is batting .295.
He’s also done the job defensively. Filling in for center fielder Denard Span (concussion), Revere made a running catch at the wall to take away extra bases from Adrian Beltre and received a standing ovation after stretching out for a diving catch on a drive by David Murphy.
“They’re going to be called upon until we can get our guys back,” Gardenhire said of the young fill-ins. “I think they’ve enjoyed getting out there. This is a time when they want to show they can do something. They took some pitches, didn’t panic and that’s a good thing.”
And help might soon be on the way for the Twins.
While first baseman Justin Morneau missed his second straight game with a sore left wrist, other players are making progress with their rehab assignments.
Joe Mauer caught three straight games for Class-A Fort Myers, hitting a home run on Friday. Second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka went to Triple-A Rochester. Outfielder and designated hitter Jason Kubel participated in batting practice with the team, and closer Joe Nathan traveled to Fort Myers to take the next step in his rehab after a successful bullpen session Saturday.
They weren’t needed against Lewis on Saturday.
Revere and Span led off the bottom of the first with singles, igniting a five-run inning. Michael Cuddyer hit a sacrifice fly. Brian Dinkelman added a two-run single for his first career RBIs and Matt Tolbert capped the scoring with an RBI single.
Lewis struggled for the second straight start and has allowed 15 runs in his last 4 2-3 innings. He gave up nine runs in 3 1-3 innings against Detroit on June 6.
“I guess everybody goes through it,” Lewis said. “You just try to rebound as fast as you can from it. That’s all you can do. Prepare yourself the same way you’ve been doing things; it’s not like I feel like I have to go out and change anything dramatically.”
The right-hander’s troubles have mainly come against left-handed hitters, causing Gardenhire to stack his lineup with all his available lefties. Entering the game, left-handers were hitting .310 against Lewis while righties had a .190 mark.
Batting from the left side, Minnesota went 5 for 6 with a walk against Lewis.
“If you go look back at it, everything was up in the zone and out over the dish,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “I could stand up there at 59 years old, throw it up in the zone out over the dish and see what happens to it.”
Baker didn’t have any issues against Texas’ usually potent offense.
He was perfect through four innings before Adrian Beltre connected for a leadoff double off the right-field wall in the fifth. Josh Hamilton, who had three homers and 10 RBIs in his previous eight games, struck out three times against Baker, who threw 80 of his 112 pitches for strikes.
“I think you saw they did hit some balls hard,” Baker said. “They just happened to hit it at guys. That’s what you can do when you have a decent lead like that, just attack guys and allow them to put the ball in play.”
Beltre’s double was the lone hit against Baker until the eighth, when Mike Napoli singled with two outs. Murphy then had a run-scoring hit.
NOTES: Morneau was going to see a hand specialist to evaluate his wrist and Gardenhire said he will be out until at least Tuesday. Gardenhire also said Nishioka could be ready to join the Twins by “midweek.” … Mauer took a day off in his rehab at Fort Myers, but is expected to catch Sunday and Monday with a possibility of catching Tuesday as well. … Texas reliever Dave Bush left the game with a bruised hamstring and is day to day. Bush was hit in the leg by Revere’s comebacker in the sixth, but pitched another inning before leaving. … The Rangers are in the middle of playing 17 of 20 games away from home. They had won five of their last six on the road before arriving in Minnesota, but have dropped two of three in the four-game series. … Baker’s strikeout of Nelson Cruz in the eighth was the 725th of his career, passing Kevin Tapani for 10th place in Twins history.
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