MINNEAPOLIS -- Left-hander Glen Perkins has excelled as closer in the second half of the season, and is making a case to become the Twins' closer of the future.
Perkins is just one of four closers in the Majors without a blown save since the All-Star break, as he's posted a 1.59 ERA with seven saves in 22 appearances since then.
Going back to June 12, Perkins has a 1.77 ERA while going 11-for-12 in save opportunities, with 35 strikeouts and five walks in 35 2/3 innings.
He's split some time with right-hander reliever Jared Burton as closer, but Twins manager Ron Gardenhire indicated on Sunday that Perkins has essentially taken over that role.
"I've got no problem with Perk being my closer," Gardenhire said. "I like it. I like handing him the ball and watching him wing it against lefties or righties. It doesn't matter."
Gardenhire said there's an advantage to using Perkins in high-leverage situations in the seventh and eighth innings, but that Perkins has established himself as a stopper in the ninth inning.
"There is especially with a guy with an arm like that, but you still have to have somebody finish it off," Gardenhire said. "He's able to do that. You can't use him in both spots. So that's why we're going to use [Brian] Duensing in the seventh and eighth innings. And Burton, we don't want to put too much of a workload on him."
Willingham sits on Sunday with sore hamstring
MINNEAPOLIS -- Josh Willingham, who has been bothered by a sore left hamstring, was given the day off against the Indians on Sunday afternoon.
Willingham served as designated hitter on Friday and Saturday -- going 2-for-4 with three walks and four RBIs -- but hasn't played in the outfield since Sept. 1.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, though, said that Willingham could be back in left field on Monday, and that he was simply given a scheduled day off.
"Willingham has been fighting the hammy so it's easy to give him a day off, especially against a right-hander," Gardenhire said. "We said we were gonna do this and try to give him a day. He played a couple days in a row. He's feeling fine and he believes tomorrow maybe he can play the outfield."
With Willingham out, Darin Mastroianni started in left field, with Joe Mauer serving as designated hitter and Ryan Doumit getting the start behind the plate.
Morneau excited to be playing in September
MINNEAPOLIS -- The month of September hasn't always been kind to Twins first baseman Justin Morneau.
Entering this season, Morneau had played in just 11 total games in September over the last three years, as he missed all of September in 2010 and '11 with concussion-like symptoms stemming from his initial concussion suffered on July 7, 2010.
But Morneau has remained healthy this year -- aside from a 15-day stint on the disabled list in early May with soreness in his left wrist -- as he's played in 116 of the club's 140 games.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he'll try to find some time for Morneau to serve as designated hitter or give him an occasional day off this month, but that Morneau likes being in the lineup.
"I've talked to him over and over and asked him about DH days, but he keeps saying he feels more into it at first base," Gardenhire said. "So there have been some DH days he's enjoyed, but he likes the idea of going out there and playing. So it's been nice."