MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - One-time rotation prospect Liam Hendriks was called on Friday night to mop up the mess that turned into the Minnesota Twins' 12-6 loss to the surging Cleveland Indians.
Instead of going through the motions as his team plays out a dismal season, the right-hander took the opportunity to have one of his best outings.
Sure, the scorecard shows he allowed five runs and eight hits, but two of the runs scored when a diving Ryan Doumit let the ball slip from his glove on a blooper by Mike Aviles. Two more came across when Drew Stubbs hit a home run after barely checking his swing on a 2-2 pitch.
In between, Hendriks used a rare (for him) fastball-breaking ball combination to strike out a season-high eight and kept the Indians relatively close in the second half of the game.
``I made a couple of mechanical changes, really worked on shortening up from the set and getting rid of the longer stride,'' said Hendriks, who started 28 times over three seasons with the Twins before making his first relief appearance on Sept. 21. ``My velocity is going up and I feel like everything has been a little sharper as well.''
The Twins had to go to the bullpen early after starter Pedro Hernandez (3-3) was rocked for six runs while retiring jut five batters.
``Whenever he made mistakes, we hammered them,'' Stubbs said. ``When we got good pitches to hit we put good swings on them and gave ourselves a pretty good cushion.''
The Twins cut the lead to 9-6 while Hendriks found his groove out of the bullpen.
``I sure wish we knew what happens when he comes out of the pen,'' manager Ron Gardenhire said. ``Maybe he should warm up shorter and do less out there. I don't know.''
Hendriks didn't get the call until midway through the game.
``When you start, you kind of sit around and look over the hitters, and do all that, it's a different mentality'' said Hendriks, who doesn't plan to change his routine if he gets another chance to start.
Carlos Santana and Asdrubal Cabrera both had two doubles and Jason Kipnis was a homer short of the cycle as the Indians pounded out 17 hits.
With the win and Tampa Bay's loss at Toronto, the Indians moved into a tie with the Rays for the two AL wild cards, one game ahead of Texas, which beat Los Angeles. Cleveland has won eight straight and 13 of 15, taking advantage of a schedule that ends with 10 games against Houston, the Chicago White Sox and the Twins, the teams with the bottom three records in the AL this season.
Indians starter Corey Kluber (11-5) managed to win his fifth straight decision. He started the game with three scoreless innings, but then allowed 10 of the next 16 hitters to reach and was knocked out with one out in the sixth. Kluber gave up six earned runs and 10 hits, but walked only one and struck out five.
Cleveland right-hander Justin Masterson threw a scoreless eighth as he works his way back from a strained left oblique that sidelined him for three weeks.
By the time the second inning was over, the Indians had four doubles and a triple, and the first seven hitters in their batting order had at least one hit.
Ryan Raburn singled in two runs in the second, and Mike Aviles added a two-run single in the fifth for the Indians, who went 7 for 12 with runners in scoring position.
NOTES: With their 6-5 victory over Minnesota on Thursday, the Indians improved their record in one-run games to 30-17, the best mark in the major leagues. ... Twins C Josmil Pinto left the game after being hit on the right hand with a pitch in the fourth inning. Precautionary X-rays were negative and he's considered day-to-day with a bruised hand. ... The Indians will send LHP Scott Kazmir (9-9) to the mound against Minnesota RHP Cole De Vries (0-1) on Saturday.