MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Twins’ surprise run to first place in the AL Central this year has been due in large part to strong starting pitching and solid defense. That formula fell apart at crucial times against the lowly Milwaukee Brewers.
Torii Hunter and Kurt Suzuki misplayed flyballs in the eighth inning and Adam Lind hit a three-run homer drove in six runs to lift the Brewers to a 10-5 victory on Friday night.
Lind connected in the third inning and drove in two more with a single in the ninth. But his biggest hit was an RBI double with two outs in the eighth that broke a 5-all tie. Lind smashed a line drive to right field that got over Hunter’s head and drove in Carlos Gomez, who started the rally with a two-out double off Blaine Boyer (1-2).
“Line drive in the lights, and it stayed in the lights,” Hunter explained. “If it’s on a line it’s going to stay in there. All I can do is just try to make the adjustment, jump as high as I could on the run, but (wow) that was hit hard.”
Lind wasn’t sure when it left the bat whether he’d gotten the job done.
“That’s a multi-Gold Glove winner,” he said of Hunter. “I’m just glad I hit it well and thank God he didn’t catch it.”
Lind then came around to score when Jonathan Lucroy’s pop fly fell between four Twins players, including Suzuki and first baseman Joe Mauer, and landed right in front of the mound.
“It’s just one of those balls. … Your corner infielders have depth and it’s a long way to go because it didn’t have quite enough height for anybody to quite get there,” said Twins manager Paul Molitor. “You would hope that someone would kind of take charge and recognize what we need to do to make that catch.”
Mauer had two hits, including a three-run homer, for the Twins (32-22).
Kyle Gibson struck out a career-high nine in seven innings for Minnesota, but gave up five runs on five hits in his first three innings. All of the runs scored on home runs, but after Lind’s blast Gibson rallied to retire the final 13 Brewers he faced, giving his team seven big innings on a night when they couldn’t afford a short start.
Former Twin Kyle Lohse gave up five runs and eight hits and struck out four in six innings for Milwaukee. Jeremy Jeffress (2-0) pitched two innings of scoreless relief for the win.
The series opener served as a reunion for Molitor and Brewers manager Craig Counsell, whose father was an official with the Brewers’ community relations department when Molitor starred there in the 1980s. The young Counsell was around the ballpark regularly and counts Molitor as a friend.
“If you grew up in Milwaukee in the ’80s then you loved Paul Molitor, you loved Robin Yount, you loved Jim Gantner,” Counsell said. “Those were your guys. Those were the jerseys you wore. Those were the people you imitated.”
Brewers: Ryan Braun returned after missing the game Wednesday to fly to California for a procedure to try to ease the inflammation in his right thumb. He is expected to be in the lineup on Saturday. Braun had a similar procedure done on his thumb last October. He said that the doctor is hopeful that it will be good for the remainder of the season.
Twins: RHP Ricky Nolasco, on the disabled list with an injured right ankle, will get a cortisone injection to try to relieve the discomfort a bone fragment is causing. GM Terry Ryan said the fragment is from an old injury but surgery has not been considered.
The Twins will send Rule 5 draft pick J.R. Graham to the mound for his first big league start. Graham is getting a spot start because the Twins played a doubleheader on Wednesday. Graham has a 3.10 ERA with 17 strikeouts and seven walks in 20 1-3 innings in relief this season. The Brewers will send former Twin Matt Garza (3-7, 5.52) to the mound. He is 0-4 with a 7.48 ERA in his last five starts.
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