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In what turned out to be a pretty good pitcher's duel at AT&T Park, the Minnesota Twins dropped their second straight game to the San Francisco Giants by a final score of 2-1 on Thursday afternoon. The loss marks the first time since May 31 and June 1 that the Twins have lost consecutive games following an eight-game winning streak.
The Giants got out to an early lead in the bottom of the second inning, thanks to an RBI groundout by Giants' shortstop Miguel Tejada scored Pablo Sandoval to give San Francisco the early lead. The teams then traded zeroes until the bottom of the eighth inning, when the Giants got an insurance run on a Cody Ross single to score Aubrey Huff, making the score 2-0.
Things got interesting in the top of the ninth when Brian Wilson and his beard came in to try to pick up the save for the Giants. Wilson started the inning by walking Alexi Casilla, and Michael Cuddyer followed that up with a double that brought Casilla around to score, making the score 2-1 and giving the Twins a runner in scoring position with nobody out. Delmon Young then struck out swinging, and Danny Valencia lined out to left field for two quick outs. Luke Hughes then grounded one to Sandoval at third. Cuddyer was running on contact, and when he saw Sandoval going for the ball, he attempted to prolong things by turning around and heading back to second. Sandoval. . .sadly. . .was able to run Cuddyer down for the third out, and the game came to an end.
Cuddyer had three of Minnesota's four hits on the afternoon. Ben Revere had the other.
Tim Lincecum (6-6, 3.16 ERA) was dominant for the Giants, as he held the Twins scoreless on just three hits in seven innings of work. He also struck out a dozen Minnesota hitters, including striking out the side in the seventh inning before being lifted for Javier Lopez. Lopez pitched a perfect eighth before turning things over to Wilson, who got his twenty-first save of the year.
Brian Duensing (4-7, 4.54 ERA) took the loss in this one, allowing one run on six his in 6.2 innings of work while striking out five and walking two. Alex Burnett got one out to complete the seventh inning for the Twins, and Glen Perkins pitched the eighth, allowing a run on two hits.
The Twins fly back east to start a three-game interleague series against the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday night at Miller Park. First pitch for that one is scheduled for 7:10 PM Central time. The pitching match-up for that one will see Twins' right-hander Scott Baker (5-4, 3.24 ERA) going up against Milwaukee's Randy Wolf (5-4, 3.15 ERA).
The Twins may have faltered last night, but the phrase "winners of nine of their last ten" is music to any team's ears. Minnesota will try to earn that description in Thursday afternoon's series finale in San Francisco.
The defending World Champions, who broke their five-game losing skid with a 5-1 victory last night, will send their ace Tim Lincecum to the mound. While the shaggy-haired hurler is always a threat to shut a team down, he hasn't been sharp lately. Lincecum is 0-2 with a 7.80 ERA in his last three starts. His control has been the main concern--he walked five batters in his last outing against Oakland.
If the Twins want to leave their first trip to San Francisco in six years with a series win, they may have to even out the catcher battle a little more. One would think "Joe Mauer vs. Eli Whiteside" would be an easy victory for Minnesota, but the Giants have got the better side of the deal in this series. Whiteside hasn't exactly lit the world on fire since becoming the full-time catcher for the injured Buster Posey, but he has four hits, four RBI and a homer in the first two games of the series. Meanwhile, Mauer has struggled since his long stint on the DL, going 3 for 20 with two RBI.
The Minnesota Twins' longest winning streak of 2011 came to an end on Wednesday night, as San Francisco Giants' right-hander Ryan Vogelsong shut down the Minnesota offense by allowing just one run on three hits in seven innings of work. The Giants got plenty of offense, and went on to win by a score of 5-1.
The bad luck for the Twins started with one out in the second inning. With Cody Ross on first base, Giants' shortstop Brandon Crawford grounded one to Tsuyoshi Nishioka at shortstop. Nishioka threw to second in an attempt to start the double play, but second baseman Alexi Casilla could not hold on to the ball, allowing Ross to slide safely into second and letting Crawford reach first. Eli Whiteside then made the Twins pay for not getting out of the inning by slicing a triple to center field that let both Ross and Crawford score, giving the Giants an early 2-0 advantage.
The Giants extended their lead to 3-0 in the bottom of the sixth when Whiteside contributed another RBI single. The Twins' lone run came in the top of the seventh inning when Michael Cuddyer and Delmon Young led off the inning with singles, putting runners on first and third. After Danny Valencia and Luke Hughes struck out, Tsuyoshi Nishioka beat out an infield single to score Cuddyer to temporarily cut the deficit to 3-1.
Aubrey Huff answered for the Giants in the bottom of the seventh with an RBI single to make the score 4-1 in favor of San Francisco, and the Giants capped the scoring in the bottom of the eighth when Emmanuel Burris reached on an error by Nishioka, allowing Andres Torres to come around and make the score 5-1.
Vogelsong (5-1, 1.86 ERA) didn't need much help, as he was perfect for the first four innings and allowed just the one run in his seven innings of work. Nick Blackburn (6-5, 3.15 ERA) lost for the first time since April 28, allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits in six innings pitched.
The two teams will meet in the rubber game of the series on Thursday afternoon at AT&T Park, with the first pitch scheduled for 2:45 PM Central time. The Twins will give the ball to left-hander Brian Duensing (4-6, 4.82 ERA), while the Giants will counter with one of the game's best, two-time Cy Young Award-winning right-hander Tim Lincecum (5-6, 3.39 ERA).
On Tuesday night, the Twins tied a Major League record by starting off the game with eight consecutive hits, scoring eight runs and chasing Giants' starter Madison Bumgarner after just one-third of an inning. Carl Pavano cruised for most of the evening, and the Twins came away with a 9-2 victory, cutting their deficit in the American League Central to 6.5 games. . .a full ten games less than it was when the month of June started.
Runs are likely not going to be easy to come by for the Twins this evening, however, as the Giants will be sending left-hander Ryan Vogelsong (4-1, 1.92 ERA) to the mound. Vogelsong has not allowed more than two earned runs in a game since back on May 3, a span stretching eight starts. In his last start against the Arizona Diamondbacks last Thursday, he allowed two runs on six hits in six innings of work in a game that the Giants ultimately lost by a score of 3-2.
It might be difficult for the Giants to score again, too, as right-hander Nick Blackburn (6-4, 3.16 ERA) will toe the rubber tonight for Minnesota. Blackburn is looking for his sixth consecutive victory, and has an ERA of 2.29 in his last nine starts. In his last start on Thursday against the Chicago White Sox, Blackburn hurled eight outstanding innings, scattering seven hits as the Twins triumphed over the White Sox, 1-0.
First pitch this evening is scheduled for 9:15 PM Central time from AT&T Park. If you're going to be up late, be sure to make yourself at home in Twinkie Town's Game Thread for the best discussion of the in-game action, and we will have the recap up here for you when it's all said and done.
The Minnesota Twins got off on the right foot on Tuesday night at AT&T Park to open their series against the San Francisco Giants. The Twins scored eight runs in the first inning, as the first eight hitters of the evening all got hits and Minnesota pounded San Francisco by a score of 9-2 to pick up their eighth consecutive victory.
Giants starter Madison Bumgarner (3-9, 4.06 ERA) only managed to get one Twin out before he was lifted, and that was when he got Twins pitcher Carl Pavano (5-5, 4.05 ERA) on strikes to prevent the Twins from setting a Major League record with nine straight hits to start a ball game. The Twins had to settle for being the first American League team to start a game with eight consecutive hits since the New York Yankees did it on September 25, 1990 against the Baltimore Orioles.
Here's how the first inning went for Minnesota:
-Ben Revere singles to left-center
-Alexi Casilla doubles to left, Revere moves to third
-Joe Mauer reaches on infield single, Revere scores, Casilla to third (1-0, Twins)
-Michael Cuddyer doubles to left, Casilla scores, Mauer to third (2-0, Twins)
-Delmon Young singles to center, Mauer scores, Cuddyer to third (3-0, Twins)
-Danny Valencia double to left-center, Cuddyer scores, Young to third (4-0, Twins)
-Luke Hughes singles to left, Young and Valencia score (6-0, Twins)
-Tsuyoshi Nishioka doubles to deep center, Hughes to third
-Carl Pavano strikes out
-Revere doubles to left, Hughes and Nishioka score (8-0, Twins)
-Casilla reaches and moves to second on an error by Pablo Sandoval, Revere moves to third
-Mauer lines into double play with Casilla getting doubled off of second
That was all the Twins would need, as Pavano put together another outstanding start, going eight innings and only allowing two San Francisco runs while scattering nine hits. Jose Mijares came on and pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to finish the job for the Twins.
Minnesota added one final run on Casilla's solo home run in the top of the ninth inning, his second consecutive game with a home run.
The same two teams will go at it again on Wednesday night at AT&T Park, with the first pitch being scheduled for 9:15 PM Central time. The pitching match-up for that one will see right-hander Nick Blackburn (6-4, 3.16 ERA) take the hill for the Twins, while the Giants will counter with right-hander Ryan Vogelsong (4-1, 1.92 ERA).
The Minnesota Twins have been the hottest team in Major League Baseball since the calendar hit the month of June, as they've won seven consecutive ball games and fourteen of their last sixteen. They've managed to climb out of the basement of the American League Central division and have cut their deficit in the division to just 7.5 games behind the division-leading Cleveland Indians.
Tonight, they have a tall order ahead of them, as they begin a six-game interleague road trip with a three-game series against the defending World Series Champions, the San Francisco Giants, at AT&T Park. The Giants have picked up where they left off last year, despite the loss of star catcher Buster Posey for the rest of the season and losing second baseman Freddy Sanchez to an injury as well. The Giants lead the National League West with a record of 39-33, and their pitching staff is still as good as any in baseball.
It should be noted that neither Denard Span nor Jason Kubel made the trip to San Francisco, so neither of them will be returning until the start of the series in Milwaukee on Friday, at the earliest. Span is expected to possibly be out a little longer than that.
On Friday night, Minnesota will give the baseball to right-hander Carl Pavano (4-5, 4.20 ERA) in Tuesday night's match-up. After getting off to a very rough start to the season, Pavano has been very good over his past six starts, going at least seven innings each time. That includes complete games in two of his last three starts, and the Twins have gone 4-2 in Pavano's last six starts.
San Francisco will turn the ball over to left-hander Madison Bumgarner (3-8, 3.21 ERA). It's hard to believe that a pitcher with a 3.21 ERA could have just three victories against eight losses, but he hasn't gotten a lot in the way of run support this season. He got a victory in his last start, a 5-2 Giants' victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks last Wednesday, but in his previous two starts he allowed just two earned runs in fourteen innings of work, yet managed to get saddled with the loss both times.
First pitch from AT&T Park is scheduled for 9:15 PM Central time. The good folks over at Twinkie Town will have the Game Thread set up for those of you that will be burning the midnight oil, and we'll have the recap up here for you after the game.