By Jon Krawczynski
MINNEAPOLIS — Danny Valencia hit a two-run single off closer Chris Perez in the ninth inning, sending the Minnesota Twins to a 2-1 victory over the Indians on Tuesday night.
Perez (2-5) is in the middle of a solid year, but the Twins got to him for a big win. He walked Joe Mauer and gave up a double to Michael Cuddyer. Jim Thome was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Valencia followed with a bloop single.
Glen Perkins (2-1) picked up the win in relief of Francisco Liriano, who gave up one run and four hits in six innings.
It was a huge emotional lift for Minnesota, which was swept in a day-night doubleheader to start the series on Monday, falling seven games behind the Indians.
The Twins were dominated for most of Tuesday’s game by Justin Masterson, who allowed four hits and struck out six in 7 2/3 innings. With a fastball that hit 97 mph and a heavy sinker that routinely was clocked between 93 and 94, the right-hander with the big, looping delivery mowed through Minnesota’s struggling lineup.
He retired 13 straight hitters before running into trouble in the seventh, when Mauer reached on an error and Michael Cuddyer singled to put two on with nobody out. But the big righty fanned Thome and got Valencia to ground into an inning-ending double play to preserve the lead.
A scary moment happened in the fifth inning when a 91-mph fastball got away from Liriano and hit Travis Buck in the helmet. The ball smacked just above Buck’s ear flap and ricocheted into the stands as a sellout crowd held its breath.
A dazed Buck sat down in the dirt, but was able to get up and walk off the field under his own power a few moments later.
The Indians announced that Buck left with a head contusion and said there were no immediate signs or symptoms of a concussion.
Looking a little rattled, Liriano gave up a single to Ezequiel Carrera to load the bases with nobody out. But he wiggled out of the jam, only allowing a sacrifice fly to Asdrubal Cabrera.