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Scott Baker’s near-perfect game might have been better. The timing of Jack Morris’s 10-inning complete game shutout in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series was impressive. But what Brian Duensing did last night may have been one of the most impressive starting pitching performances I have seen from a Twins pitcher in my life time. (Note – Eric Milton’s no-hitter wasn’t on TV) They left-hander pitched the first complete game shutout of his career. He gave up just three hits and two walks in the game. In fact, he never had two base runners on at the same time. Less than 58% of his pitches were strikes and yet, he threw just 103 pitches in nine innings. He kept his entire defense on its toes because he struck out just four A’s hitters. He got nine ground ball outs, and nine fly ball outs. He picked off the one base runner that got to second base. Admittedly, the Oakland A’s have a terrible offense, but in a game against Trevor Cahill, quietly one of baseball’s best pitchers this year, it was a great performance. Most important, however, was the timing of the performance. Before the game, Ron Gardenhire told media that he would not use Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier or Matt Capps because of overuse. Duensing took care of that concern all by himself. You have to think this start earned him some points with his manager, the coaches and his teammates!
On the season, Brian Duensing is now 6-1 with a 2.00 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP. In his five starts, he is 3-0 with a 2.43 ERA. As a reliever, he held opponents to a .591 OPS. In his starts, opponents’ OPS is .592.
Brian Duensing has had an incredible year, and he has proven a lot of people wrong (myself included). Last night’s amazing performance was the culmination of all of it, and yet, with six weeks left in the season, and hopefully a postseason run, hopefully he’ll continue to have moments as great as last night.
As mentioned above, Trevor Cahill has been one of the best starting pitchers in baseball this spring. The 22 year old is now 12-5 with a 2.50 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP. It’s hard to believe its sustainable since he strikes out just 5.2 innings. But we could see last night that the movement his pitches get means there is not much solid contact against him. Sure, Joe Mauer had three hits in the game, but he’s on one of the more amazing tears of his career (which is saying a ton). Other than that, the Twins didn’t do a lot against him. But they did just enough. In the third inning, Alexi Casilla led off with a double. Denard Span sacrificed him to third, and Orlando Hudson hit a deep fly ball to left field to drive in the team’s first run. The other run came in the 8th inning off of former Twins lefty reliever Craig Breslow. Denard Span blooped a double to left field. Then Hudson grounded to shortstop and Span continued his horrible base running trend by attempting to achieve third base. The Steve Tolleson throw to 3B was true, but somehow Span got around the Kevin Kouzmanoff tag, and the most incredible thing is that 3B umpire Adrian Johnson made the difficult and correct call. Span was safe. Mauer followed with an RBI single (off the wall) that gave Duensing and the Twins a little insurance.
But the story of the night was Duensing who, along with Cahill, helped complete the game in less than 2 ½ hours, not long before a major storm hit Target Field.
Also, a big THANK YOU to Tigers catcher Alex Avila who hit a two run home run in the top of the 9th inning against JJ Putz and the White Sox. The homer gave the Tigers a 3-2 win over the White Sox, and it gave the Twins a two game lead over the White Sox.
Here are some notes from the Twins minor league games:
- Rochester topped Lehigh Valley for the second straight night. This was a bullpen game, but they came through. Jose Lugo started and gave up one run on four hits (including a solo homer) in 4.2 innings. He walked none and struck out five. Then Tim Lahey came in and gave up two runs on one hit (a homer) and one walk in 2.1 innings. Kyle Waldrop threw the final two innings. He gave up a run on a hit (yes, a solo home run). Brandon Roberts led the offense. He was 3-4 with a walk, his second double and he stole a base. Erik Lis has been terrific since his return from New Britain. In this game, he was 3-5 with two more doubles (his 4th and 5th of the year). Matt Macri went 2-4 with his 18th double. Dustin Martin and Brendan Harris each went 2-5.
- New Britain had a bullpen start as well, and it showed in a 12-2 loss to Akron. Cole DeVries started and gave up nine runs (5 earned) on 11 hits and a walk in three innings. Mike McCardell went the next four innings and gave up three runs (2 earned) on eight hits and three walks. Loek Van Mil pitched a scoreless 8th inning. Jeff Howell went 2-4. Joe Benson was 1-3 with a walk and his 18th double. Chris Parmelee hit his 22nd double.
- The Ft. Myers Miracle lost to Charlotte 7-1. Bruce Pugh got the start and gave up three runs on six hits in four innings. He walked three and struck out four. Matt Schuld was promoted from the GCL team to the Miracle. The 2010 non-drafted free agent from St. Thomas gave up one run on three hits and two walks in two innings. Blake Martin went two innings and gave up three unearned runs on one hit. But that hit was a three run homer. Nick Romero remains on fire. He went 3-4 with his 20th double.
- The Beloit Snappers beat Clinton 7-2. Martire Garcia’s second Snapper start was a big improvement. The lefty gave up one run on six hits and three walks in 5.1 innings. He struck out eight. Brad Stillings came in and got two outs to end the sixth inning. Miguel Munoz then gave up one run on one hit in two innings. Sam Spangler struck out two in his inning. Danny Rams went 3-4 with his 14th home run. Lance Ray went 3-4 with his fifth double. James Beresford had a two-run double, his 15th double.
- Elizabethton beat Kingsport 5-2. 2010 3rd round pick Pat Dean threw six shutout innings for his second win. He gave up four hits, walked none and struck out three. Michael Tonkin threw a scoreless inning. Adrian Salcedo gave up two runs on two hits (including a homer) in his inning. Jose Gonzalez recorded his fourth save with a scoreless ninth. Oswaldo Arcia, Jamaal Hawkins, Gunner Glad and Kyle Knudson each had two hits.
- The GCL Twins lost to the Red Sox 8-3. Ricardo Arevalo gave up six runs (5 earned) on five hits and two walks to fall to 0-6 on the season. Tyler Herr threw two shutout innings. Hein Robb gave up one run on three hits and a walk in his two innings. Brett Carroll gave up a run on two hits in his inning, although he did strike out two. Matt Tolbert was 2-4 with a stolen base. Eddie Rosario walked twice and stole his 22nd base.
NOTES FROM THE RON GARDENHIRE SHOW
The Ron Gardenhire Show is on 1500ESPN every Sunday morning at 9:30 throughout the season. Here are some of the things I noted from the show this morning.
- “Duens” or “Deuce” (Brian Duensing) hides the ball well, is left-handed and hides the ball well. Thinks he could be a #2 or #3 type of pitcher.
- If Nick Blackburn came up, it would be in the bullpen, which he said always needs arms and options.
- Glen Perkins is an option against lefties because he added a slider and he is throwing hard.
- Good to have Jon Rauch back because they had to over-extend Crain and Guerrier.
- Kevin Slowey just needed a few extra days, says he’s ready to go.
- Nick Blackburn and his wife Alicia had a baby last night, Peyton. Congrats to them!
- Has a lot of confidence in Denard Span, not sure what to call his lapses on the bases. He’s putting a lot of pressure on himself, and trying to do the right things, but he’s thinking speed alone can do it. Trying to remind him of situational. He needs to work through this and is so important at top of order.
- Will take NO chances with Justin Morneau. Morneau has been feeling a lot of pressure and anxiety is not good for his situation. He wants to play and be a part of it.
- Mauer had three hits in four at bats and saw 10 pitches. Again a great pitcher like Cahill, you don’t want to fall behind. Cahill has three above average pitches. Fastball lots of movement, slurve unreal, and great changeup.
- Kubel can’t try to get to 3B on that play in front of him. Cuddyer ran hard, but Casilla, as on deck hitter needs to be waving in Cuddyer, telling him to hurry up.
- JJ Hardy will not play today, will be playing on Tuesday. Nick Punto will work out today, activate him, and make a move after the game, “probably a catcher.”
- Sunday Lineup:
- Denard Span, CF
- Orlando Hudson, 2B
- Joe Mauer, C
- Jason Kubel, RF
- Michael Cuddyer, 1B
- Jim Thome, DH
- Danny Valencia, 3B
- Jason Repko, LF
- Alexi Casilla, SS
- With Kevin Slowey Pitching.
Any questions or comments on the Twins or the minor league system? Feel free to leave your questions and comments here.