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The Twins made it a little more interesting than it needed to be, but they completed a three-game interleague sweep of the San Diego Padres on Sunday afternoon at Target Field with a 5-4 victory. The win was the seventh in a row for the Twins and allowed Minnesota to climb out of the AL Central cellar for the first time this year.
The Twins jumped out to an early lead, thanks to Alexi Casilla unloading on an offering from Padres' starter Dustin Moseley in the bottom of the first, taking it into the right-field stands for a solo home run and giving the Twins a quick 1-0 advantage.
Twins' starter Francisco Liriano was, as the kids might say, "dealing" early on, as he retired six of the first nine Padres he faced on strikes. In the top of the fourth, however, the Padres broke through with three consecutive singles. Jason Bartlett got things started with a base hit, and Chase Headley moved him to second with a single of his own. Ryan Ludwick then singled to score Bartlett and tie the game at one.
The Padres threatened again in the top of the fifth, as three consecutive singles loaded the bases for San Diego with one out. Chris Denorfia lifted a sacrifice fly to score Orlando Hudson and give the Padres their first lead of the series, 2-1. After a walk to Bartlett loaded the bases again, Headley reached on an infield single that allowed Will Venable to score and extend the San Diego lead to 3-1.
The Twins struck back in the bottom of the seventh, as Michael Cuddyer led off the inning with a double. After a fly out by Delmon Young, Luke Hughes grounded one to Headley at third, who threw wildly to first, allowing Hughes to reach second and letting Cuddyer move up to third. Mike Adams then came on in relief of Moseley, and a groundout to third allowed Cuddyer to score and cut the deficit to 3-2. Rene Tosoni, pinch hitting for Rene Rivera, then doubled to right to score Hughes and tie the game at three, and Matt Tolbert followed that up with another double to score Tosoni and give the Twins a 4-3 lead.
Glen Perkins came in to relieve Liriano in the top of the eighth, and after getting the first out allowed singles to Ryan Ludwick and Jesus Guzman to put runners on the corners with one out. After Cameron Maybin flew out, the Twins intentionally walked Orlando Hudson to load the bases, Venable smashed a ground ball to first that Hughes made a great diving stop on. However, Perkins was late getting over to first base to cover, and Venable wound up with an infield hit that scored Ludwick and tied the game at four.
Things stayed that way until the bottom of the ninth, when Chad Qualls came into the game for San Diego to relieve Adams. Delmon Young led off the inning with a single, and Luke Hughes sacrificed him over to second. After an intentional pass to Nishioka, Drew Butera (who came in to catch after Tosoni pinch-hit for Rivera earlier on) ripped one to the left side of the infield that went off of Headley's glove and ricocheted into left-center field. Young came around to score, and the Twins left the field with a 5-4 victory.
Alex Burnett, who pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for the Twins, got credited with the victory, raising his record on the season to 2-4. Qualls took the loss for the Padres, giving him a record of 3-3 on the year. Both starters performed well, even though neither of them figured in the decision. Dustin Moseley pitched 6.1 innings, allowing just three hits and one run. Liriano gave up eight hits and three runs over seven innings of work, striking out eight. Both Mike Adams and Glen Perkins were each credited with a blown save for their teams.
The Twins will take the day off on Monday, and then head back out onto the road, starting with a three-game series against the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday night at AT&T Park. The pitching match-up as it stands right now is Carl Pavano (4-5, 4.20 ERA) squaring off against Madison Bumgarner (3-8, 3.21 ERA).
The Twins have gotten one-run victories in the first two games of the series, 6-5 on Friday night and 1-0 on Saturday, and will be looking for their thirteenth victory in their last fifteen games after getting off to a disastrous start to the 2011 season.
Minnesota will be without third baseman Danny Valencia in this one. Valencia strained a muscle in his arm in the eighth inning of Saturday night's game, and manager Ron Gardenhire has said that Valencia is day-to-day with the strain. In addition, Joe Mauer will be in the Minnesota lineup today, but he will be serving as the DH rather than suiting up behind the plate today.
The Twins will hope that starting pitcher Francisco Liriano (4-6, 4.67 ERA) can deliver more of what he's given the team since he came off of the disabled list. Liriano was brilliant in his last start, taking a perfect game into the seventh and a no-hitter into the eighth as the Twins beat the Texas Rangers 6-1 one week ago.
The Padres will counter with right-hander Dustin Moseley (2-6, 3.16 ERA). Moseley missed his last start with some shoulder issues. He has pitched fairly well in 2011, but has fallen victim to the same lack of run support that many of his fellow San Diego starters have had to deal with this season. He got a no-decision in his last start on June 8, as he gave up three runs on eight hits in five innings against the Colorado Rockies, but did not figure in the decision as the Padres lost 5-3.
First pitch for this one is scheduled for 1:10 PM Central time from Target Field. The Game Thread over at Twinkie Town is all ready to go for your in-game discussion, and we will have the recap back here for you when everything has finished up.
Minnesota Twins fans have become accustomed to their team not scoring very many runs at times this season. What they're not used to is a small number being good enough to get the victory. But, when you get a pitching performance like the one Scott Baker put on at Target Field on Saturday night against the San Diego Padres, you don't need a lot of scoring.
Baker (5-4, 3.24 ERA) threw eight shutout innings, allowing just four hits and striking out ten Padres as the Twins defeated San Diego by a score of 1-0. The victory was the sixth in a row for the Twins, and their thirteenth in their last fifteen ball games.
Things got off to a bit of a rocky start for Baker, as Padres' right fielder Chris Denorfia led off the game with a triple. However, Baker responded by striking out Jason Bartlett and Chase Headley before getting Ryan Ludwick to fly out to end the inning. Baker proceeded to strike out the side in the top of the second, and it became clear that he was on his game.
All of the scoring in this one occurred in the bottom of the second, when Danny Valencia launched his second home run in as many nights to give the Twins a 1-0 lead. The home run came off of Padres' starter Tim Stauffer (2-5, 3.13 ERA), who entered the game having pitched 16.2 consecutive scoreless innings for San Diego.
Matt Capps came in to pitch the bottom of the ninth for the Twins, and he retired the Padres in order to get his eleventh save of the season.
The Twins will go for the sweep on Sunday afternoon at Target Field, with first pitch scheduled for 1:10 PM Central time. The Padres will send right-hander Dustin Moseley (2-6, 3.16 ERA) to the hill, while the Twins will hand the ball to left-hander Francisco Liriano (4-6, 4.67 ERA).
The Minnesota Twins currently possess the American League's longest winning streak, and they hope to extend that streak in the second game of a three-game set against the San Diego Padres on Saturday night at Target Field.
Minnesota has won five consecutive games to give them the American League's longest streak, and have won twelve out of the last fourteen games, cutting their deficit in the American League Central to eight games. The Twins held off the Padres on Friday night by a score of 6-5 in the return of Joe Mauer to the Minnesota lineup.
Tonight, the Twins will give the baseball to right-hander Scott Baker (4-4, 3.55 ERA) in the hopes that he can continue the momentum from his last start. Last Saturday against the Texas Rangers, Baker threw a complete game, allowing just one run on five hits in an 8-1 Minnesota victory.
The Padres will counter with right-hander Tim Stauffer (2-4, 3.28 ERA). Stauffer, like most Padres pitchers, has done a decent job, but has gotten very little run support. In his last start, he shut out the Washington Nationals for seven innings, allowing just five hits, but winding up with a no-decision as the Padres ultimately lost 2-0.
First pitch for tonight's game is at 6:10 PM Central time from Target Field. You can follow all of the in-game action in the Game Thread over at Twinkie Town, and we'll have your recap back here when everything has finished up.
The Minnesota Twins jumped out to an early lead on Friday night against the San Diego Padres, and had to hold the Padres off late in order to get the victory. The Twins won the game 6-5, giving them their twelfth victory in the last fourteen games and cut their deficit in the American League Central to just eight games.
In the bottom of the first, Ben Revere reached on an error by Padres' second baseman Alberto Gonzalez, and Alexi Casilla kept up his hot hitting by following that up with a single. Revere was thrown out attempting to steal third, and Casilla advanced to second on a wild pitch by Padres starter Clayton Richard (2-9, 4.35). Then, the returning Joe Mauer slapped a single into center field for a base hit that brought in Casilla and gave Minnesota a 1-0 lead. Mauer also moved up to second on an error by Padres' center fielder Cameron Maybin on the throw back into the infield.
Mauer then came in to score on Michael Cuddyer's ground-rule double to left field, making the score 2-0 in favor of the Twins. After a walk to Delmon Young, Danny Valencia blasted a three-run homer to the second deck in left field to open the Minnesota lead up to 5-0.
San Diego got one back in the top of the third on an RBI double by Chase Headley, but the Twins responded in the bottom of the fourth when Ben Revere's single brought Jason Repko home to give Minnesota a 6-1 lead. Another RBI double by Headley in the top of the fifth made the score 6-2, and that's how things stayed until the top of the seventh.
To start the seventh, Alex Burnett came in to relieve Twins' starter Brian Duensing (4-6, 4.82 ERA). Burnett quickly got the first two outs to start the inning, and then allowed consecutive singles to Jason Bartlett and Chase Headley. Ryan Ludwick then unloaded on a Burnett offering and put it into the left field stands for a three-run home run, and suddenly a game that it looked like the Twins might run away with was a one-run affair at 6-5.
That's all the closer the Padres would get, however. Glen Perkins, who was also making his return this evening, worked a scoreless eighth inning, and Matt Capps pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to pick up the save for Minnesota. It was the tenth save of the season for Capps.
Mauer got a hit in his first at-bat in his return, going 1-for-4 on the night, including grounding into a double play.
The same two teams will get together at Target Field on Saturday, with the first pitch scheduled for 6:10 PM Central time. The starter for the Padres will be right-hander Tim Stauffer (2-4, 3.28 ERA), while the Twins will counter with right-hander Scott Baker (4-4, 3.55 ERA).
Interleague play will resume on Friday night for the Minnesota Twins, as they finish up their ten-game homestand with a three-game series against the San Diego Padres. But that's not the biggest story coming out of Target Field this evening. No, the biggest story coming from Target Field today is that, when the starting lineup is released and the Minnesota Twins take the field on Friday night, their best and most popular player will be joining them for the first time since April 12.
Catcher Joe Mauer, who has battled bi-lateral leg weakness, viruses, and any number of maladies over the last two months, will be returning to the Minnesota lineup this evening against the Padres. Mauer has not played for the Twins since April 12, when he went 1-for-4 with a single and an RBI in a 4-3 Minnesota victory over the Kansas City Royals. In 34 at-bats in 2011, Mauer is hitting .235, and only one of his eight hits on the season has gone for extra bases. All signs are a go for him coming back on Friday night, however, and the Twins are hoping that he will be the Joe Mauer they've become accustomed to since he arrived in the Major Leagues.
The Twins have won 11 of their last 13 games, despite a lot of regulars being out. Though they are now getting Mauer back, and activated middle infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka earlier in the week, they are still without Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel, Jim Thome, Denard Span, and a number of pitchers as well.
Tonight, the Twins will give the baseball to left-hander Brian Duensing (3-6, 4.98 ERA). Duensing got bombed in his last start against the Texas Rangers, giving up seven runs on seven hits in just two innings of work (although only three of the seven runs were earned) in a 9-3 Twins loss on June 10.
The Padres will counter with left-hander Clayton Richard (2-8, 4.06 ERA). Richard has won just one time in his last ten starts, with one no-decision thrown in, but the Padres haven't been scoring him a lot of runs, either. In his last five starts. . .all losses. . .Richard has allowed only ten earned runs in nearly 31 innings of work, but the Padres as a team have scored only five runs during that same stretch, and three of those came in one game (they've also been shut out twice in that span).
First pitch for this one is scheduled for 7:10 PM Central time at Target Field, weather permitting. As always, be sure to check out the Twinkie Town Game Thread while the action is going on, and we'll be here for your recap when everything finishes up.