On a day when the Twins' franchise lost the man that may have been their most iconic player, they put things together well enough to snap their longest losing streak since 1998.
The Twins scrapped out two first-inning runs off of Felix Hernandez, and Francisco Liriano and company made it stand up as Minnesota defeated the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night by a score of 2-1.
All of Minnesota's scoring happened in the top of the first inning. Denard Span led off with a walk, and Matt Tolbert grounded into a fielder's choice, forcing Span out at second. Jason Kubel then walked to put runners on first and second, and Justin Morneau's ground out moved both runners up 90 feet. Michael Cuddyer then came through with a two-run single to center to score both Tolbert and Kubel, staking Liriano to a 2-0 lead.
That's all Liriano would need on the night, as he pitched seven innings of three-hit, one-run ball while striking out nine and walking just one Mariner. Seattle's only run came in the bottom of the fifth. Liriano quickly got the first two outs, but hit Seattle shortstop Brendan Ryan with a pitch after getting ahead 0-2. Michael Saunders then singled, with Ryan taking third, and Ichiro followed that up with another single to score Ryan and cut Minnesota's lead in half.
But that's all the Mariners would get. In fact, Ichiro's single in the bottom of the fifth was the last hit the Mariners would get on the evening. Glen Perkins came in and pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning, and Matt Capps came on and pitched a relatively quiet ninth for the save.
Liriano's victory lifted his record on the season to 3-5, and his ERA has dropped to 6.12. The save for Capps was his sixth on the season. Hernandez was the hard luck loser, taking the loss after allowing only three hits and two runs in eight solid innings. His record on the year is now even at 4-4, and his ERA dropped as well, down to 3.23.
The Twins will head for Oakland for another two-game series starting tomorrow. As things stand now, the pitching match-up will see Carl Pavano (2-4, 5.89 ERA) take the mound for Minnesota, while the Athletics will counter with right-hander Brandon McCarthy (1-4, 3.34 ERA). First pitch from Oakland is scheduled for 9:05 PM Central time.