MINNEAPOLIS – A day after becoming the first major league team to clinch a playoff berth this year, the Minnesota Twins rested most of their regulars and beat the Cleveland Indians 5-1 Wednesday behind the pitching of Nick Blackburn to complete a three-game sweep.
Minnesota clinched its sixth division title in nine years late Tuesday when the Chicago White Sox lost at Oakland.
Blackburn (10-10) became the sixth Minnesota pitcher to reach double digits in victories, allowing one run and five hits in seven innings.
Jose Morales had three RBIs and Alexei Casilla had three hits for Minnesota, which has won nine of 11 and improved its record at new Target Field to 52-25. The Twins have sold out 74 straight home games and set a season home attendance record with 3,063,327, topping their 1988 mark.
Carlos Carrasco (1-1) allowed three runs and six hits in six innings.
Before the game, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Francisco Liriano will get the start when Minnesota opens the AL playoffs next month,
"He's been winging it pretty good," Gardenhire said.
Liriano is 14-8 with a 3.44 ERA in 29 starts, including 6-1 in his past 10. The left-hander will have six days' rest between his final regular season and first playoff starts.
Carl Pavano is scheduled to pitch Game 2 followed by Brian Duensing. Blackburn will be the fourth starter if the Twins use a four-man rotation.
Blackburn gave up five hits in the first two innings, including Shelley Duncan's RBI single in the first. Blackburn struck out Jayson Nix with two on in the first, and Drew Sutton hit into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the second.
Blackburn retired his last 13 batters, getting his final one when he stopped Chris Gimenez's grounder with a foot and threw to first. He has pitched at least seven innings in six straight starts since being recalled from Triple-A, allowing 10 earned runs in 45 2-3 innings. Opponents are hitting .213 against him in that stretch. Blackburn was 1-6 with a 10.05 ERA in 10 games before his July 30 demotion.
Minnesota went ahead in a three-run sixth on RBI doubles by Morales and Matt Tolbert followed by Ben Revere's run-scoring single. Morales added a two-run single in the seventh.
NOTES: Cleveland SS Asdrubal Cabrera pinch ran in the eighth inning for Cleveland. He missed Tuesday's game because of a strained left wrist.