July 23, 2006
The combination of Francisco Liriano (10), Pat Neshek (2), Denys Reyes (2), Juan Rincon (1), and Joe Nathan (2) totalled 17 strikeouts against the Cleveland Indians in a Sunday afternoon 3-1 win over the Indians.
The strikeout total tied the team record, originally set May 6, 1966 when Dave Boswell (12) and Al Worthington (5) combined for the feat.
More important at the time, however, was the fact that the win moved the team closer to second-place Chicago in the AL Central race. After play on the 23rd, the Twins were just three game behind the White Sox, but were still 9.5 behind division-leading Detroit. Both numbers had been cut significantly over the last 10 days, a span in which the Twins were 9-1. At the start of play on July 14, the Twins were 9.5 behind Chicago and 12 behind Detroit.
From Joe Christensen’s story in the Star Tribune:
The Twins play the Chicago White Sox tonight for the first time since May 15, and it’s striking how different Ron Gardenhire’s team is now.
The reminders were everywhere Sunday afternoon, as the Twins finished taking two of three from the Cleveland Indians with a 3-1 victory at Jacobs Field on Sunday.
A reconstructed Twins lineup scratched out three runs against Jake Westbrook (7-6) in the third inning with a dazzling display of speed and small ball.
That was enough for Francisco Liriano (12-2) and four relievers, as Twins pitchers finished with 17 strikeouts, matching a club record for a nine-inning game set on May 6, 1966.
The Twins sewed up their ninth victory in 10 games and flew to Chicago, where they’ll begin this three-game series exactly three games behind the White Sox for the wild-card lead.
“You don’t make the playoffs at the end of July,” said Justin Morneau, whose two-run single gave him 80 RBI. “We have to stay hungry. Nobody’s going to give us anything for finishing in third place.”