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Preview: Interleague Play Resumes in Minnesota

The pitching matchup said tonight's game would be low-scoring, and it was everything it was advertised to be.  Francisco Liriano put on a brilliant performance, one in which he tied a Twins record, and the Twins got just enough offense to beat the almost equally brilliant Tim Hudson and the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves 2-1.

The Braves got the first run of the night in the second inning, courtesy of an RBI groundout by left fielder Omar Infante.  From that point on, Liriano and Hudson traded zeroes, as both pitchers were clearly on their game this evening.  Liriano wound up striking out 11 Braves in all, and he tied a Twins record set by Jim Merritt on July 21, 1966 by striking out seven consecutive Atlanta hitters. . .and keep in mind, since the game was played in an AL park, there was no pitcher hitting.

The run started the third, as he fanned Martin Prado and rookie sensation Jason Heyward.  He then struck out the side in the fourth by striking out Chipper Jones, Troy Glaus, and Brian McCann.  Liriano then opened up the fourth by ringing up Yunel Escobar and, finally, getting Infante to strike out as well.  Liriano was on such a roll that the sellout crowd at Target Field actually booed when Dave Ross had the nerve to ground out rather than be notched as another K in the scorebook.  So, Liriano had to settle for tying the record rather than setting it.

However, Hudson was breezing through the Minnesota lineup, allowing the Twins only two hits through the first six innings of play.  But the Twins finally got to Hudson in the seventh, as the Twins got consecutive singles to start the inning from Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, and Michael Cuddyer to load the bases with nobody out.  After Jim Thome struck out looking, Jason Kubel connected for a base hit that scored Mauer from third to tie the game.  The next batter, Delmon Young (pinch-hitting for Danny Valencia) laced another single to bring in Morneau to give the Twins a 2-1 lead.

It wasn't much, but it held up for the Twins.  Liriano made it through the eighth, and Jon Rauch struck out the side in the ninth to preserve the Twins victory.  Overall, 14 of the 27 outs the Twins recorded came via the strikeout, and Heyward took the golden sombrero by going 0-for-4 with four strikeouts.

Tomorrow's match-up at Target Field has a scheduled first pitch time of 6:10 PM Central time, as Derek Lowe (8-5, 5.04 ERA) takes the mound for Atlanta, while Minnesota counters with Nick Blackburn (6-3, 3.21).  For the latest and greatest in Twins news, be sure to check out Twinkie Town.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.