Morneau's key hit leads Twins to victory
First baseman drives in two, Walters strong through 7 1/3
By Kelly Erickson 6/12/2013 12:20 AM ET
MINNEAPOLIS -- With two outs and runners in scoring position, Justin Morneau may just be the only batter the Twins would want at the plate.
Morneau delivered a clutch base hit just when the Twins needed it most, as he drove in the eventual winning run in the eighth inning at Target Field on Tuesday, and Minnesota took Game 1 of a three-game Interleague set against the Phillies, 3-2.
With the game tied, Morneau hit a two-out single to center off Antonio Bastardo to score Jamey Carroll, who walked to lead off the inning. Carroll moved to second on Joe Mauer's single and to third on a fielder's choice that put runners on the corners. After Josh Willingham popped out in foul ground, the lefty Bastardo replaced Mike Adams to face Morneau.
After his big hit, Morneau is hitting .385 (10-for-26) with 14 RBIs with two outs and runners in scoring position. The Twins were 4-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
"I think watching TV we saw the numbers scrolling across about how our numbers with runners in scoring position haven't been very good," Morneau said. "To get a big hit there and come in and shut it down, [because] we've been playing a lot of long games and extra-inning games, is good for the team. It's good for everybody, and hopefully gets us rolling in the right direction."
"He fouled off all of them, so I tried to go away with the fastball," Bastardo said about giving up the hit to Morneau, who'd fouled off four straight pitches before the hit. "He don't do nothing. He just put the barrel on it. Nothing I can do about it, you know? I tried to make a pitch. He tried to hit the ball, so I give the credit to him."
The Phillies tied it in the eighth on Ryan Howard's single off lefty Brian Duensing that brought in Kevin Frandsen, who had a pinch-hit single to lead off the inning.
Twins right-hander P.J. Walters worked efficiently through 7 1/3 innings, giving up one earned run on six hits with five strikeouts. In each of his four starts this season, Walters has pitched at least six innings (with three quality starts) -- providing some necessary relief for the bullpen.
"When I pitch I try to go nine, not six, and that's the kind of mentality I take out there," Walters said. "If it ends up six, it's not killing our bullpen, but it's not helping it much, either."
After Ben Revere's single put runners on first and second in the eighth, Walters gave way to Deunsing -- but not after a minor miscommunication from umpire Paul Emmel that initially brought in righty Casey Fien.
"The umpire signaled for the right-hander," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "I signaled for the left-hander and yelled it twice coming out of the dugout, he just waved for the right-hander. I just know that I've never had that happen. They straightened it out."
Howard's hit was all Duensing allowed, and he earned his first win of the season despite getting a blown save.
Phillies starter Cole Hamels -- who came into the game with a 4.56 ERA and only two wins on the season -- gave up two runs on seven hits before leaving after six innings. Hamels finished with 108 pitches and struck out five.
Hamels was sharp in all but one inning: the fourth. With one out, Hamels gave up three straight doubles -- all off the wall -- to Willingham, Morneau and Oswaldo Arcia, who saw action with the Twins for the first time since May 24 after being recalled earlier in the day. Arcia's hit gave the Twins a 2-1 lead.
The Phillies scored in the third inning when Michael Young drove in John Mayberry on a single to right. Mayberry reached on an error, as Morneau was unable to reel in Pedro Florimon's throw -- it was Morneau's first error since Sept. 28, 2012, in Detroit.
Twins closer Glen Perkins pitched a scoreless ninth for his 14th save.
Gardenhire noted the effect of the win on his clubhouse after his club won only two of six on the road last week.
"Our starter was fantastic," the manager said. "He threw the ball great. He gave us our first great opportunity. Unfortunately we couldn't hold it there. Like I said, a good baseball game and some big hits, a couple of big RBIs, which kind of broke some of our mojo from the road trip where we didn't get those big hits. We got a couple tonight and a little bit better feeling in the dugout, and we got a good win."