MINNEAPOLIS — After nearly 10 years and 1,070 minor-league games, Paul Molitor figured the least he could do for Minnesota rookie James Beresford was give him a game ball on Saturday night.
Not that receiving a standing ovation during his first at-bat, getting his first major-league hit and watching teammate Joe Mauer get the game-winning single in the 12th-inning weren’t enough already.
It was Mauer who was mobbed at first base after his game-winning single scored Brian Dozier to give the Twins a 2-1 win over the Indians. But it was Beresford who manager Molitor presented with a game ball afterwards.
“Tonight makes the last 10 years all worth it,” the Australia native who signed with Minnesota as an undrafted free agent on Aug. 13, 2005 told reporters in the clubhouse.
Dozier hit a two-out single and advanced to second when Joe Colon (1-2) was called for a balk by homeplate umpire Vic Carapazza. That set up Mauer for his first hit of the long night, a sharp liner into right-center that allowed Dozier to score easily.
J.T. Chargois (1-1) pitched a perfect 12th for his first major-league victory.
Beresford — who received his long-awaited call up on Sept. 6 — went 1-for-4, reached on a fielder’s choice and also laid down a nice bunt to advance Logan Schafer to second in the ninth.
The game didn’t seem to want to end, but it went fast for Beresford.
“I don’t really remember other than after I hit the ball,” he said about his seventh-inning single. “It’s all a bit of a blur.”
A year after contending for a wild-card berth, the Twins have sunk to baseball’s worst record, failing to meet many expectations. So being able to celebrate Beresford — and a win to boot — made the night worth savoring all around.
“It got me going a little bit,” Molitor said.
Even the Indians seemed to appreciate the moment. After his seventh-inning single, Beresford advanced to second on a sac-bunt by Byron Buxton. Then, Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor stopped by.
“Lindor kind of gave me a tap and just said, ‘Enjoy it, you deserve it and congrats,'” Beresford said. “A guy of his caliber to say that, it kind of sinks in.”
Twins starter Hector Santiago worked seven strong innings after walking four batters and allowing seven baserunners his first two innings. He allowed only two baserunners in his final five. It was Santiago’s longest outing since coming to Minnesota in a trade with Los Angeles in August.
“Some days it happens from the first pitch, some days it takes an inning, inning and a half to get it going,” Santiago said. “Tonight it just seemed like after the first two innings I just locked in and I threw everything where I wanted to.”
3B Trevor Plouffe went back on the DL with a left oblique strain. He missed 32 games earlier with a fractured left rib and was batting .277 with five homers and 20 RBIs since being reinstated Aug. 8. . Manager Paul Molitor said right-handed reliever Michael Tonkin (shoulder) could be ready to pitch again in Sunday’s series finale. Tonkin last pitched August 26 at Toronto.
Twins: Jose Berrios (2-5) will try to bounce back from a rocky start against Kansas City on Monday, when he allowed five runs off a career-high nine hits in five innings.