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INSIDE PITCH: Twins season down to three pivotal games

CLEVELAND - Now it's down to three games, at home, against the defending American League champion and current Central Division champion Kansas City Royals. Regardless of how those three games turn out, the Minnesota Twins are relevant again.

CLEVELAND - Now it's down to three games, at home, against the defending American League champion and current Central Division champion Kansas City Royals. Regardless of how those three games turn out, the Minnesota Twins are relevant again.

They may even be postseason-bound again. The next three games, the last three games of the regular season, will tell.

"We've got to find ways to keep extending this thing. We've got three games left and we're still there, although we do need some help," said Twins manager Paul Molitor.

The Twins took care of business in Cleveland, winning three of four games in their series against the Indians that ended Thursday night with one of the Twins' most thrilling victories of the year. After leading 1-0, then falling behind 2-1 in seventh inning, the Twins rallied for a run in the eighth inning and two in the ninth to win 4-2.

"Our guys play hard," said Tyler Duffey, who pitched into the seventh inning, allowing just two runs. "I gave up the lead, but I knew we were not going to roll over."

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The Twins return home one game out of the second wild card in the American League. They probably have to win two, if not all three of the games against the Royals, and even that may not be enough if Houston and the Angels also keep winning.

"We look forward to being home," Molitor said. "The division winner is coming in and they still are playing for the home field advantage. It's going to be challenging. Our fans have been great. I think they have enjoyed seeing a competitive season."

NOTES, QUOTES

RECORD: 83-76

STREAK: Won one

NEXT: Royals (RHP Chris Young, 11-6, 3.15 ERA) at Twins (RHP Ervin Santana, 7-4, 4.10 ERA)

PLAYER NOTES:

--2B Brian Dozier struck out in the first inning. It was his 146th strikeout of the season, breaking the Twins club record, which was 145 by Bobby Darwin, in 1972.

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--RHP Ervin Santana will start Friday night for the Twins in the first game of their regular season-ending series vs. Kansas City. In his last six starts Santana is 5-0 with a 1.47 ERA.

--RHP Tyler Duffey pitched into the seventh inning, allowing two runs with six strikeouts and no walks. Duffey was removed from the game after giving up a two-run home run to C Roberto Perez that temporarily put the Twins behind at 2-1. "I knew right away it was gone. He hit it pretty good. I'm just glad we got out of it with a win," said Duffy.

--1B Joe Mauer was 5-for-16 (.313) in the four games in Cleveland. That included three doubles, and a home run. Mauer is a .330 career hitter vs. the Indians and his 34 career doubles vs. Cleveland are the fourth most among active players.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "There were a few twists and turns along the way, but we found a way to regroup." - Twins manager Paul Molitor, after a win over Cleveland on Thursday.

 

Related Topics: MINNESOTA TWINS
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