Indians edge Twins 7-6
Published 12:19 pm Saturday, September 8, 2012
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Russ Canzler provided the type of hitting performance that made him one of Cleveland’s top minor-league prospects. David Huff finally turned in the type of pitching effort that had eluded him in the majors.
Both players have another month to show they can consistently perform like this and prove they belong in the big leagues.
Canzler hit his first major-league homer, Huff came on in relief to get his first win this season and the Cleveland Indians beat the Minnesota Twins 7-6 on Friday night. Canzler went 3 for 4 with a walk and three RBIs — the first RBIs of his major league career — and Huff retired all 10 batters he faced after relieving starter Jeanmar Gomez in the fourth.
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With his team 16 1/2 games behind Chicago in the AL Central, Indians manager Manny Acta’s focus has turned to evaluating his prospects for next season. Canzler and Huff both spent most of the year in Triple-A Columbus before being called up this month.
That was particularly tough on Huff, who started 48 games in his major-league career but won only two games in 2011. Friday night marked only his second career relief appearance.
“Honestly, I didn’t even know I was going to get in tonight,” Huff said. “I had, from what I was told, a 10-percent chance of getting in. And when that phone rang, they called my name.”
Minnesota built an early lead on Indians starter Jeanmar Gomez before Huff’s name was called. Josh Willingham hit a two-run double and Justin Morneau added a sac fly in the third to give Twins starter Liam Hendriks a 4-0 lead.
“He pretty much saved the day for us,” Acta said. “He came in and shut them down and gave us an opportunity to come back and win the ball game.”
Canzler started the rally with a two-run homer in the fourth.
Then in the fifth, Shin-Soo Choo added an RBI single and Canzler drove in Jason Kipnis on a grounder down the third-base line to tie it.
Acta, though, cautioned against reading too much into Canzler’s hitting.
“Let the kid play,” he said. “It’s not enough to make an assessment. He goes 0 for next week and you’ll be asking me ‘why is he up here?”’
For now, anyway, the signs are encouraging. Hendriks, meanwhile, couldn’t hold onto a four-run lead for the second straight game and remained winless in 16 career starts.
“I’m trying not to think about it too much,” Hendriks said. “It’s going to come.”
Unlike Huff, Hendriks wasn’t able to keep his fastballs down in the strike zone.
“You get a lead, you have to go attack the strike zone,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. “If he wants to get a win in this league, you have to go attack hitters. If they beat you, make them beat you swinging. Not putting guys on, not going to 3-2 counts with every hitter. He hasn’t been able to do it consistently.”
Sloppy play hurt the Twins in the seventh when Tyler Robertson (1-2) caught Kipnis stealing, but Kipnis reached second anyway when Pedro Florimon missed a throw from Morneau.
Two batters later, Michael Brantley gave Cleveland the lead when he singled off Alex Burnett to drive in Kipnis. Casey Kotchman then snapped a 0-for-15 slide when he singled home Carlos Santana and Burnett walked in a run to make it 7-4.
Willingham added another double in the eighth off Vinnie Pestano to drive in Joe Mauer. Pestano and Joe Smith combined for 1 2-3 innings of relief. Chris Perez gave up a leadoff double and a run in the ninth, but held on for his 35th save in 39 chances.
“It feels good, it feels really good,” Huff said. “It’s one of those things you just accept it and move on and get ready for the next one.”