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Do you remember the discussions surrounding Francisco Liriano during the offseason? Let’s see if I can remember some of the varying opinions:
- When the Twins signed Carl Pavano, I said that Brian Duensing had done enough down the stretch to earn the first shot at the Twins fifth starter spot, with Liriano going to the bullpen.
- Then we heard about how well he was pitching in the Dominican Summer League. We were typically skeptical, but encouraged.
- Then came the Dominican Winter League playoffs and he continued to dominate hitters while walking so few. Video of his outing became available and those that saw it said that he looked different, and his confidence was back. I was then cautiously optimistic, saying that it was encouraging and as long as he maintained control in and out of the strike zone, he would be fine. We all acknowledged that the team need a true #1 starter and he was the one pitcher that could be that.
- Of course, Fanatic Jack was saying that he would be pumping gas at Super America within two months.
- When spring training started, the fifth starter job was basically handed to Liriano, and he pitched well in the spring.
- Of course, when Joe Nathan was injured and needed Tommy John surgery, many wanted Liriano to assume that role. Of course, that made absolutely no sense. First, the biggest concerns with Liriano were with his head, his confidence, his ability to deal with adversity. That’s not exactly the makeup required of a closer. Second, if he was as good as we thought he could be, he would be fine as a closer, but if he could do that for 180-200 innings this year, rather than 60 innings, that’s even better.
- And now, after last night’s eight inning, one run outing, one could argue that he is officially back. He notched 11 strikeouts, including seven in a row at one time, a team record. He threw strikes. He hit spots with the fastball. His changeup was very good, and his slider was nearly 2006 form. Twins fans should be very excited.
Tim Hudson was incredible too though. Another Tommy John success story, Hudson was throwing hard and getting so much movement in both directions, slider, two-seem fastball. He was incredible. The combination of Hudson and Liriano helped the game finish in just over two hours. Fortunately, the Twins were able to eek out two runs in the bottom of the 7th to grad a 2-1 lead. Liriano got through the 8th frame, and then Jon Rauch came in and struck out Jason Heyward, Chipper Jones and Troy Glaus to end an incredible baseball game.
With Nick Blackburn and Derek Lowe on the mound tonight, I would expect three runs to be scored within the first couple of innings because both are very hittable.
Here is a quick glance at what happened on Friday in the Twins minor league system:
SethSpeaks Friday Minor League Hitter of the Day – Aaron Hicks – Beloit Snappers
SethSpeaks Friday Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Brad Hennessey – Rochester Red Wings
Red Wings Report
Friday – Rochester 7, Colombus 6 – Yancarlos Ortiz made his AAA debut in this game. He had hit just one home run in his minor league career, and that was in 2005, in Elizabethton. So, when he came to bat for the first time, I don’t think anyone would have predicted that he would hit a home run on the first pitch he saw in AAA. He went 2-5 in the game. Brock Peterson continues to mash. HE went 2-4 with his 11th double and tenth home run. Matt Macri went 2-4 with his 12th double. Brian Dinkelman and Jose Morales each went 2-5. Jason Repko hit his sixth home run. Tim Lahey made just his second career start. He gave up four run on seven hits and a walk in 3.2 innings. Pat Neshek got out of the fourth and struck out two in a scoreless fifth frame. He gave up two runs in the sixth and was replaced by Brad Hennessey who threw 2.1 shutout innings. Anthony Slama recorded his 14th save with a scoreless ninth. The starter for the Clippers was former Twins farmhand, Yohan Pino. He gave up seven runs on 11 hits in five innings. He is now 6-3 with a 4.74 ERA.
New Britain Notes
Friday – New Britain 2, Altoona 10 – Kyle Gibson had his second straight rough start. He gave up five runs on eight hits and a walk in five innings. He struck out four. Uncharacteristically, he got just three groundouts to go with eight flyball outs. Chris Province came in and gave up three runs on seven hits in two innings. Michael Allen gave up two runs on two hits and a walk in his inning. The Rockcats managed just five hits. Yangervis Solarte, Erik Lis and Chris Parmelee each hit a double.
Friday – Ft. Myers – No Game Scheduled.
Friday – Beloit 14, Bowling Green 6 – BJ Hermsen gave up three runs in the top of the first, but settled down after that. He gave up four runs on eight hits and two walks in six innings. Chris Armstrong, 2006 14th round pick of the Angels who spent 2009 in Cedar Rapids, made his Twins debut. The lefty gave up two runs on three hits in an inning. Dakota Watts and Peter Kennelly each pitched a scoreless inning. Aaron Hicks had a big game. He went 3-4 with a walk, two doubles (13) and four RBI. James Beresford went 3-4 with a walk. Angel Morales went 3-5 with three RBI and his 18th stolen base. Reggie Williams was 2-5 with two doubles (6). Danny Rams was 2-5 with his 15th double and fifth home run. Wang-Wei Lin was 2-4 and was hit by a pitch.
Any thoughts of the Twins, Francisco Liriano or the minor league system? Feel free to leave your questions and comments here.