A change in plans on the pitching mound did not deter the Minnesota Twins in their pursuit of the post-season.
The Twins fueled their chase for an American League wild card spot by defeating the Indians 4-2 in Cleveland Monday night.
Left-hander Tommy Milone learned a few hours before game time that he'd be the surprise pitcher because of the illness that struck scheduled starter Phil Hughes.
Sickness has kept several Twins out of the lineup in recent days, including third baseman Trevor Plouffe. But Plouffe was back in action Monday, hitting a home run in the first inning that came after doubles by Joe Mauer and Miguel Sano.
Meanwhile, Milone pitched into the sixth inning, holding Cleveland to two runs. Four Minnesota relievers kept the Indians off the scoreboard the rest of the way.
Milone had been sent to the bullpen after some rocky outings. But perhaps Cleveland was the best place for him to rejoin the rotation. The Pioneer Press notes that while Hughes has an ERA of 6.39 in his five starts at Progressive Field, Milone now owns a 0.96 earned run average in his three starts there.
The victory put the Twins one game out of the second wild-card spot as they awaited the outcomes of West Coast games involving the Astros and Angels – the teams Minnesota needs to surpass to qualify for a playoff game next week.
Kicking off the last week of the season with their 81st victory ensures that the Twins cannot have a losing record in Manager Paul Molitor's first year at the helm.
It also means the Minnesota dugout doubles as a post-game dance floor.