Come on, guys. Is this going to be a pennant race, or not?
The Twins are trying to make it one, quietly and from a distance.
Bob Tewksbury allowed three hits in 7 1/3 innings as the Twins, trying to sound a warning shot from second place in the AL Central, beat the Indians 3-0 on Thursday night.
The Indians, shut out for the fourth time this season and third at home, saw their lead over Minnesota in the Central shrink to 9 1/2 games. When Twins manager Tom Kelly saw the posse of reporters entering his office after the game, he joked, "What did we do, win the pennant? I'll have to call home."
Tewksbury (5-9) retired 18 straight after Brian Giles' double with one out in the second. Former Indian Greg Swindell got out of a jam in the eighth, and Rick Aguilera pitched the ninth for his 19th save.
"Don't get carried away now," Kelly said. "The Indians are a wonderful club. They have a lot going for them at every position on the field. We can jump up and beat them once, maybe twice, and then get out of town. Hopefully, we won't get bruised up."
But could a few more surgical strikes like this make a race out of the weak Central? Before the game, Indians general manager John Hart said it's not wise to underestimate the Twins.
"Everybody laughs about it, but these guys are tough," Hart said. "They've got good pitching."
Sandy Alomar broke Tewksbury's string with a one-out double to the right-center alley in the eighth. Tewksbury went to 2-0 on Travis Fryman and threw ball three in the dirt for a wild pitch sending Alomar to third. Fryman walked, and Twins manager Tom Kelly opted for Swindell to face pinch-hitter Mark Whiten.
Swindell struck out Whiten, and got Kenny Lofton to fly out to left.
"Swindell got out of a huge jam," said Tewksbury, who won for only the second time in 11 starts. "I yelled out that he better pick me up or I was going to knock him out."
David Ortiz was hit in the stomach by Paul Shuey's pitch in the ninth and came out of the game for a pinch-runner. Terry Steinbach followed with his seventh homer to make it 3-0.
"Guys who don't throw very hard like Tewks have to change speeds and stay out of the middle of the plate," Indians manager Mike Hargrove said. "If he doesn't do that, he's in trouble. If he does, he's golden."
Judging from the Indians' feeble swings, they could have used Shawon Dunston in the lineup. Dunston, 13-for-34 (.382) in his career against Tewksbury, didn't get off the bench.
Hargrove could have played him at shortstop instead of Omar Vizquel, who was 0-for-4 and fell to 1-for-15 in his career against the right-hander. Or Dunston could have played second instead of David Bell _ 0-for-2 in the game and hitless in four at-bats career against Tewksbury.
Cleveland starter Dave Burba (10-6) allowed one unearned run and five hits in 7 2/3 innings, walking four and striking out six. The Indians are averaging 1.8 runs per game in his six losses.
Notes: Jack McDowell, Tim Wakefield and Dennis Springer are the only pitchers to shut out the Indians at Jacobs Field. ... With two more appearances, Indians left-hander Paul Assenmacher will pass Walter Johnson for 20th on the career list. ... Indians Hall of Famer Bob Feller will have minor knee surgery Friday morning. ... The Twins signed first baseman Eric Sandberg, their 25th-round draft pick.