CLEVELAND — His blue sweatshirt drenched with beer, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire picked up the boxed bottle of Dom Perignon off his desk and smiled.
“Looks pretty good,” he said, admiring the pricey Champagne. “It’ll look good on the mantle, unless my wife and I drink it tonight. You just never know.”
Gardenhire became the 10th manager in major league history to win 1,000 games with the same team on Saturday as Minnesota, staked to an early lead by Brian Dozier’s homer on the game’s second pitch, beat the Cleveland Indians 7-3.
Following the game, Gardenhire was doused with adult beverages by his players, who wore grey T-shirts that said, “1000 wins … 67 ejections” on the front and “And Still Counting” on the back.
Minnesota’s Kyle Gibson limited Cleveland to one run over five innings in his season debut after Dozier led off the game with his homer against Carlos Carrasco.
Gardenhire, who has managed Minnesota since 2002, joined Tom Kelly as the only managers in Twins history to reach 1,000 wins. He’s also the fifth active manager to hit the milestone, and he joined a list of managing immortals including Connie Mack, John McGraw, Walter Alston, Tommy Lasorda and Earl Weaver as the only ones to get all 1,000 wins with the same team.
In typical fashion, the 56-year-old “Gardy,” who has guided the Twins to six AL Central titles, downplayed his accomplishment.
“I haven’t looked at the list,” he said. “I kind of stayed away from all that stuff. We were kinda talking about it earlier. I really haven’t gotten into this very much: How many? Who? Maybe I’ll look at it now.
“I guess you tip your hat to those guys because I know how hard it is.”
As he spoke with reporters, Gardenhire’s cellphone buzzed with a flood of incoming congratulatory texts. One of his daughters called immediately after the game and his wife, Lindsay, was in his office as the Twins celebrated.
“My kids and my family are very, very excited,” he said. “They’ve been waiting for this.”
In addition to getting the bottle of bubbly from the Twins and the game’s lineup card as a souvenir, Gardenhire was also touched by the grey T-shirts, which included a photo on the front of him being thrown out by late umpire Wally Bell, who died of a heart attack in October.
“It’s really heartwarming because Wally Bell is on the front,” Gardenhire said. “He’s a very, very dear friend of mine, so it means an awful lot to have that T-shirt with Wally on there — and it’s also a pretty entertaining T-shirt.”
Before taking the mound, Gibson (1-0) did his usual round of high-fives with teammates and coaches in the dugout before delivering a message to Gardenhire.
“I went up to him and said, ‘Hey, let’s get it today,”‘ said Gibson, who allowed one run and three hits in five-plus innings. “It’s exciting to be the guy who is out there for the ‘W’ but it’s Gardy’s ‘W’ for sure. It’s a pretty cool day to be a part of.”
Gibson made 10 starts as a rookie last season, and the Twins are counting on the 25-year-old to do more after giving him the fifth spot in the rotation. The right-hander worked around four walks — two in the third, when he escaped a big inning by getting Nick Swisher to ground into a double play.
Afterward, Gibson was most pleased about getting Gardenhire his win.
“The short time I’ve played for Gardy, it’s been a lot of fun,” he said. “He’s fun to play for. He’s a great manager.”
Indians manager Terry Francona was the last active manager to reach 1,000 wins, and he was more than happy to welcome Gardenhire into the club.
“Gardy’s been doing this for a long time,” he said. “Yeah, I guess I wish it would have come in the next series. But he’s been good at what he does for a long time. I think that number indicates he’s getting old.”
When reminded that he also has 1,000 wins, Francona quipped: “I’m old. That’s why I didn’t say too many nice things about it.”
NOTES: Also on the list of managers with 1,000 wins with the same team are: Mike Scioscia, Kelly, Danny Murtaugh and Red Schoendienst. … The Twins snapped a seven-game losing streak against the Indians. … After going 0-for-13 to start the season, Dozier is 3-for-5 with a double and homer in this series. … Twins OF Oswaldo Arcia was given the day off with a sore right hand. Gardenhire said Arcia injured his hand swinging in the batting cage earlier in the week in Chicago and it flared up during an at-bat late in Friday’s game.