It’s funny, before that 6-game losing streak, the Twins were the only team in all of MLB to not have a losing streak of at least 3 games; that’s right, through the season’s first two months, the team hadn’t lost three in a row. Pretty remarkable for a sub-.500 team.

 

Nick Blackburn recovered nicely from his 7 ER performance 5 days ago. He allowed just 2 runs this time, on 7 hits (a homer, two doubles, four singles) over six innings. He walked only one and also struck out five, including the final two batters he faced. 67% of his 94 pitches were strikes, which is on par with his season total of 68.4% strikes.

Boof Bonser, making his third appearance in relief, didn’t really do that bad. He walked the lead off batter and gave up a single, but then induced a groundball and got a strikeout and was pulled in favor of Dennys Reyes, for the lefty-lefty matchup. Really, Boof could’ve finished the inning just fine. Denny had a bad outing though, giving up a 3-run homer to the only batter he faced, with two of those runs being charged to The Boofster. Jesse Crain pitched really well in a key spot, getting the final out in that Bonser/Reyes inning, and then striking out the side in the 8th with the team up by just one run at that point. His season ERA is now at a very respectable 3.25.

Joe Nathan came in to record his 17th save in 18 chances, allowing a single but also striking out a batter.

 

The whole offense did a pretty good job, between Carlos Gomez and Alexi Casilla each extending their hitting streaks, Gomez’s first hit being his 13th bunt hit of the season, and the three threes. What do I mean by that? Well, even though Joe Mauer was hitless, he walked three times and scored once. Justin Morneau drove in three runs, his two doubles helped him out a lot there, and Jason Kubel had three hits, including his 8th home run of the season. Casilla and Gomez each stole a base, and frankly it’s about time. That was Gomez’s first successful steal since May 25th, with 5 caught stealing in that timeframe. And for a speedy guy, that was just Casilla’s third stolen base all year. Granted he’s only tried three times too, so his success rate is, well, perfect, but it’d be nice to see him “cause havoc” on the basepaths more often.

Michael Cuddyer not only provided an RBI double, he also made a fantastic diving catch in the 6th inning.

 

The 7-8-9 hitters (Delmon Young, Mike Lamb, and Brendan Harris) didn’t do much of anything. Delmon had a single and an assist at home plate, while Lamb had a sacrifice fly. That’s it. It really wouldn’t surprise me to see Brian Buscher (rumored to be the call-up that will take place after tonight’s game) or Matt Macri take over for the rest of the season at third, providing the team ships Lamb out. If he stays, he’s going to be the starter because of his contract. But even I’ll admit that he’s ridiculously underperforming right now, same with Harris. I think when Nick Punto and Matt Tolbert both come back fully healthy, they’ll start eating into Harris’ playing time. If Punto puts up numbers similar to what he did two years ago, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Adam Everett ride the pine for the remainder of the year. He’s worse than what he should be offensively, and hasn’t been the “defensive wizard” he was signed to be.

 

Ironically enough, Juan Rincon wasn’t available last night due to a “sore neck”. It may require some time on the DL. Sounds like a way to avoid having to lose him or Brian Bass, as a trip to the disabled list would open up a roster spot.

 

Francisco Liriano has certainly been encouraging lately, although I think Ron Gardenhire‘s saying:

If he starts rolling down there, then you start making decisions up here as to how you fit him in

is a bit premature. “Rolling” isn’t the term I’d use for him, not yet anyway. In his last 3 starts, Liriano’s gone 18 and 1/3 innings while giving up 5 earned runs (for an ERA of 2.41) on 13 hits. He’s walked 6 (just one in two games, four in the other) but struck out 7 in each of those three games. The strikeouts are a good sign, but it’d be nice to see him go a start without walking anyone. That seems to be his biggest issue right now, is his control. According to long-time manager Tom Kelly, apparently said that Liriano “handled himself really well on the mound”. I think bringing him up at any point before the All-Star Break is too soon. I want to see him actually dominate AAA, and show coaches that he has nothing left to prove down there.

 

Tonight’s game starts again at 6:05 with Livan Hernandez trying to clinch a series win against the third-place Indians.

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