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The Twins beat the Tigers 2-0 on Tuesday night. That was a great baseball game. I know everyone likes to see a lot of runs scored, but I love a good pitching duel. Francisco Liriano was incredible again. Justin Verlander was dominant, as usual. But the patience that the Twins lineup has clearly made a focus this season paid off. Even though Verlander is allowed to throw 120 pitches most times out, those 120 pitches last night came in just 5.1 innings. That allowed the Twins to get to the Tigers bullpen. Now, they added just one more run off of their bullpen, but the bigger picture tells us that the earlier they can get a starter out of the game matters. Several relievers had to pitch last night, and they may tire earlier tomorrow night. In the long run, this patient approach is going to pay off. Denard Span led off one inning with a stand-up triple. Orlando Hudson popped up. Joe Mauer grounded weakly to shortstop. Justin Morneau struck out (again). Another situation of a runner left on base? Of course it was. That said, with Verlander throwing like he was, it’s not like the batter has terribly much control. Verlander was still in control.
The other thing to remember is that when there are runners in scoring position and two outs… there are still two outs. It means that a hit is likely required to extend the inning and score some runs. Remember that the league average is less than .270. So no, you’re not going to score very often, even with a runner on 3B with two outs.
But the story of the game was Francisco Liriano, again. The lefty extended his scoreless streak to 23 innings with eight more shutout frames. He gave up just four hits. He walked just one (and that runner was eliminated when the next batter grounded into a double play) and struck out ten. He got nine groundball outs to four fly outs. He was throwing 94-96 with the fastball. His slider and changeups were both anywhere from 84-88 mph. He had great control. Here is what I tweeted and put on my facebook page: “Francisco Liriano “may never get back to 2006 form.” At what point do we all start saying that he just might? 25 scoreless innings? 30? 50? Yikes!”
It’s at this point that it starts becoming fair to ask that question. As some have said, it will take more than four starts, for sure. But as others have said, his stuff and velocity are back, but now he probably understands the art of pitching better, so maybe he can be even better. That is a scary thought!
Jon Rauch came in for the 9th inning, and another save opportunity. This would be his most difficult opportunity, facing the Tigers 2-3-4 hitters. Johnny Damon got a hit, but he was forced out at second by a nice play by JJ Hardy. He then got Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez for the final outs. He recorded his 7th save of the year. And as I told several people, it’s just another three outs. And Rauch is proving that. As long as he can maintain that attitude, he will be just fine.
What were your thoughts of the game and the Liriano performance?
Last night, I was the host of this week’s edition of Twins Minor League Weekly. Co-host Travis Aune had some other priorities, college-related, which take priority. I was joined by Justin Murphy who writes at Seamheads.com and at Auburnpub.com. He goes to school at Syracuse, so he took in a couple of the Rochester Red Wings games in Syracuse over the weekend. Then Joe Testa of the New Britain Rockcats called in and talked about things with that team. Later, Chris Herrmann of the Ft. Myers Miracle called in to talk about several topics with that team. It was a fun show. I shared Travis’s choice for Who’s Hot and Who’s Not for each of the affiliates. Hopefully you have a chance to listen.
SethSpeaks Monday Minor League Hitter of the Day – Evan Bigley – Ft. Myers Miracle
SethSpeaks Monday Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Mike McCardell – New Britain Rockcats
Red Wings Report
Monday – Rochester 3, Lehigh Valley 6 – Yoslan Herrera made another start for the Red Wings. The Cuban righty went the first five innings. He gave up three runs on nine hits. He walked two and struck out three. Tim Lahey gave up three runs on four hits and a walk in an inning. Matt Fox walked two and struck out three in two scoreless innings. The offense managed just five hits. Erik Lis hit his second home run, and Trevor Plouffe hit his third triple.
New Britain Notes
Monday – Game 1 – New Britain 1, Richmond 3 – The Rockcats managed just three hits in the first game. Steve Singleton and Rene Tosoni each hit a double. Tosoni drove in the lone run with his. Ben Revere singles and stole his fourth base. Joe Benson walked twice. Tyler Robertson gave up two runs on seven hits and two walks in 5.1 innings. Chris Province gave up a run on three hits and recorded the final five outs.
Monday – Game 2 – New Britain 0, Richmond 2 – The Rockcats managed just three hits in the second game. No, that is not just copying the first sentence from the first game. They really did have just three hits, again. Ben Revere hit a double. Mike McCardell went the distance for New Britain. The right-handed gave up two runs on five hits in seven innings. He walked two and struck out five.
Monday – Ft. Myers 2, Jupiter 6 – Brad Tippett struck out nine batters and walked none in six innings. But he gets the loss because he gave up four runs (3 earned) on eight hits. Michael Allen came in and, in two innings, he gave up two runs on four hits. Yangervis Solarte went 2-4 with a walk and double. He also committed three throwing errors at 2B. Evan Bigley was 2-4 with an RBI double. Deibinson Romero and Chris Cates were each 2-4 as well.
Monday – Beloit 3, Burlington 13 – This game just got out of control in a hurry. Starter Brad Stillings gave up eight runs (6 earned) on eight hits and a walk in just two innings. Ben Tootle then gave up three runs on five hits and a walk in three innings. Peter Kennelly gave up two runs on three hits and a walk in his two innings. Edgar Ibarra pitched a perfect inning. Brian Dozier went 2-5. Aaron Hicks went 1-3 with two walks. Angel Morales was 1-3 with a walk and his eighth stolen base. Danny Rams walked twice.
Do you have any thoughts on Francisco Liriano, the Twins, or their minor league system? Leave your comments here.