ARLINGTON, TX - JULY 28: Jim Thome #25 of the Minnesota Twins hits a RBI single against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on July 28, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Twins Fall Short And Split Series With Texas

The Twins start the series in Texas seven games out of first in the AL Central.

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Twins-Rangers: Twins Try To Take Series In Finale

When the series against Texas started, the Twins were shellacked under an onslaught of Texas hitting, and suffered their worst loss of the Ron Gardenhire era, 20-6. Two nights ago, they rallied late and escaped with a win, and last night, they won in a rather convincing fashion.

If this trend continues, tonight the Twins should be the ones putting the 20-6 shellacking on the Rangers. Baseball, go figure.

Scott Baker is scheduled to start for the Twins tonight (8-5, 2.88 ERA), his second start since coming off the disabled list with a right flexor muscle strain. His first outing went well, as he pitched five shutout innings against Detroit, but was removed after only 82 pitches as a precautionary measure. Baker felt no lingering issues in his last outing, so expect the Twins to let him go as long as possible.

Why? Because the Twins bullpen really, really…REALLY…needs a strong outing from the starting rotation again. Brian Duensing pitched a strong 6.2 innings last night, which helped out after Twins starters only managed 7.2 innings in the first two games.

Offensively, the Twins look to keep up their current hot streak, as they’ve pounded out 25 hits in the last two games, lead by Joe Mauer. Mauer delivered a two out, game winning RBI double on Tuesday as a pinch hitter, and hit his first home run of the season last night as Minnesta cruised 7-2.

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Mauer Power Helps Twins Past Rangers, 7-2

Joe Mauer hit his first home run of the season, and Jason Kubel's late double gave the Minnesota Twins plenty of breathing room, as the Twins took down the Texas Rangers by a final score of 7-2 at The Ballpark At Arlington on Wednesday night.

Mauer got his first home run of 2011 off of Rangers' starter Colby Lewis (10-8, 4.00 ERA), a solo blast to right field with two outs that gave the Twins a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. That's how the score stayed until the top of the fourth, when Michael Cuddyer led off the frame with a solo home run of his own, this one to left-center to increase Minnesota's lead to 2-0.

After the Rangers cut the lead to 2-1 in the bottom of the fourth with an RBI groundout from Michael Young, Minnesota tacked on a couple more in the top of the fifth. Lewis quickly retired Tsuyoshi Nishioka and Ben Revere for the first two outs of the inning, but then Alexi Casilla doubled to right to keep the inning going. Mauer then went the opposite way for a single, scoring Casilla to make it 3-1. Mauer took second on the throw, and came around to score on Cuddyer's single to center to make it 4-1. Cuddyer then got caught up in a rundown that ended the inning.

Things stayed that way until the top of the ninth, when the Twins put together some more clutch two-out hits against Rangers' reliever Mark Lowe. Nishioka and Revere again went down to start the inning, and again Casilla doubled to keep the inning going. Going into second base, Casilla appeared to hurt himself, and was pinch-run for by Trevor Plouffe. After an intentional walk to Mauer, Lowe appeared to be out of the inning when he got Cuddyer to ground one towards Young, but an error on the Rangers' third baseman kept the inning going and loaded the bases. Jason Kubel made the Rangers pay by clearing the bases with a double, giving the Twins a very comfortable 7-1 cushion.

Brian Duensing (8-8, 4.35 ERA) was very solid for the Twins, allowing one run on seven hits in 6.2 innings of work. Matt Capps and Glen Perkins each got two-thirds of an inning of work in, and Anthony Swarzak came in to mop up in the bottom of the ninth. Swarzak did allow an RBI single to Yorvit Torrealba, but the Twins' lead was just too much as Minnesota won by the final score of 7-2.

With a loss by the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday, the Twins once again find themselves six games back in the American League Central division race. They will attempt to win their third straight when they conclude their series with the Rangers on Thursday night in Arlington, with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 PM Central time. The Twins will go with right-hander Scott Baker (8-5, 2.88 ERA) to try to win their third straight, while the Rangers will counter with left-hander Matt Harrison (8-7, 3.05 ERA).

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Twins Thoroughly Embarrassed By Rangers, 20-6

Hey, did you guys hear that the NFL lockout ended? Because that's basically the only good news Minnesota sports fans got on Monday.

As for the baseball team? Let's just try to pretend that Monday night never happened. Texas beat Minnesota by a very NFL-like score of 20-6...and sadly for Twins fans, the game wasn't even that close.

Just how bad was it for Twins pitching? The starter, Nick Blackburn, gave up eleven hits and nine runs in just 2 2/3 innings. Then Jose Mijares got shelled for five runs in only 2/3 of an inning. And then Chuck James gave up four runs in just one inning of work. And then...well, you get the idea. The Rangers scored at least three runs in the first five innings. The score was 18-1 with four innings left to play.

Yuck.

The defense didn't do the atrocious pitching staff any favors either. The Twins committed three errors that led to four unearned runs from Texas. The Rangers committed four errors of their own, but those types of miscues tend to hurt a lot less when you're putting up 20 runs on offense.

Rangers starter Derek Holland went six innings for Texas and fared much, much better than the Twins staff, giving up only one unearned run. The Twins touched the Texas bullpen for five meaningless runs in the last three innings, well after the outcome had been decided.

The drubbing of the Twins was truly a team effort for Texas. Eight different Rangers knocked in at least one run, and eight different Rangers had multi-hit games. Remarkably, the only two of the Rangers' 27 hits were home runs. The 27 hits allowed was an all-time Twins franchise worst, and the 20 runs allowed was the second worst ever. The Rangers' 43 total bases on Monday night was the most by any team in the major leagues this season. But you probably had already assumed most of that.

At least we got to see Michael Cuddyer come on to pitch the 8th inning! No, we're not kidding. Cuddyer, the Twins' only All-Star, had to come to the mound to stop the slaughter of the normal pitching staff. And guess what? He didn't allow a run!

The Twins will try to have as few nightmares as possible about this game as they try to even up the series tomorrow night in Arlington. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM. Hey, it can't be any worse than it was on Monday...right?

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