June 2011

Twins look to Liriano (Game 65)

MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins have a chance to win their third straight series with left-hander Francisco Liriano on the mound against the Rangers on Sunday.

Liriano looked just fine in his return from the disabled list on Tuesday against the Indians, when he allowed an unearned run on three hits and three walks over five innings. He was eased into that start, however, as he was lifted after just 81 pitches because the Twins wanted to be cautious after missing two weeks with inflammation in his throwing shoulder.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said before Sunday’s game that Liriano will have no such limit against the Rangers, though.

“We’ll let him go now,” Gardenhire said. “He’ll be fine. He’s been giving me and Andy the 10, so he feels 10, and I don’t think you can go much higher than 10 on the 10 scale.”

It’s a big start for Liriano, as the Twins certainly want to keep things rolling, having won eight of 10 and two of three against the Rangers.

Lineups for the 1:10 p.m. CT start at Target Field:

Rangers (36-30)

1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
2. Elvis Andrus, SS
3. Josh Hamilton, LF
4. Michael Young, 1B
5. Adrian Beltre, 3B
6. Nelson Cruz, RF
7. Yorvit Torrealba, C
8. David Murphy, DH
9. Craig Gentry, CF

LHP Matt Harrison (5-5, 3.48 ERA, 4.30 FIP, 1.34 K/BB)

Twins (25-39)

1. Ben Revere, CF
2. Alexi Casilla, SS
3. Michael Cuddyer, 1B
4. Delmon Young, LF
5. Luke Hughes, 3B
6. Danny Valencia, DH
7. Jason Repko, RF
8. Rene Rivera, C
9. Matt Tolbert, 2B

LHP Francisco Liriano (3-6, 5.20 ERA, 4.95 FIP, 1.17 K/BB)

Morneau out until Tuesday (Game 64)

MINNEAPOLIS — Justin Morneau is out of the lineup for a second straight day and is expected to be held out until Tuesday’s game against the White Sox.

Morneau, who has been bothered by a sore left wrist, is scheduled to meet with local hand specialist Dr. Thomas Varecka on Monday’s off-day before returning to action.

“He’s had that thing and he’s going to see Dr. Varecka — our hand guy — and he wants to check all the information out there,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “So it doesn’t make any sense for me to put him out there until Dr. Varecka sees him.”

With so many players out, the Twins will rely on a lineup filled with plenty of players who started the season in the Minors including Ben Revere, Rene Tosoni, Brian Dinkelman and Rene Rivera.

Gardenhire said he’s also stacking his lefties against Rangers right-hander Colby Lewis, as left-handers are hitting .310 with a .966 OPS against him this year, while right-handers are hitting just .190 with a .577 OPS.

“Hopefully we’ll bounce back today and get a good start,” Gardenhire said. “The numbers say left-handers hit over .300 against him and right-handers below it. So we snuck as many left-handers as we could other than Morneau. So we’ll see how they do.”

Lineups for the 3:10 p.m. start at Target Field:

Rangers (36-29)

1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
2. Elvis Andrus, SS
3. Josh Hamilton, DH
4. Adrian Beltre, 3B
5. Nelson Cruz, RF
6. Mitch Moreland, 1B
7. Mike Napoli, C
8. David Murphy, LF
9. Endy Chaves,CF

RHP Colby Lewis (5-6, 4.37 ERA, 5.21 FIP, 2.76 K/BB)

Twins (24-39)

1. Ben Revere, CF
2. Alexi Casilla, SS
3. Michael Cuddyer, 1B
4. Delmon Young, LF
5. Rene Tosoni, DH
6. Danny Valencia, 3B
7. Brian Dinkelman, RF
8. Rene Rivera, C
9. Matt Tolbert, 2B

RHP Scott Baker (3-4, 3.86 ERA, 4.22 ERA, 3.09 K/BB)

Rangers come to town (Game 62)

After winning back-to-back series for the first time this year and six of their last seven games, the Twins are finally playing they were expected to this season.

But they have a big test awaiting them at Target Field, as the Rangers come to town for a four-game series. The Rangers, who represented the American League in the World Series last year, are off to another good start this season, leading the AL West by 2 1/2 games entering Thursday.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire wasn’t shy when asked by a reporter whether Texas is the best team in the AL this year.

“I think so,” Gardenhire said. “I think Texas has the package deal. Their pitching is unbelievable. And they’ve got power arms in the bullpen. They can run and hit for power. They have a little bit of everything. And they have a unique bench that allows them to do a lot of different things. So they’re a really solid baseball team.”

Lineups for Thursday’s 7:10 CT start at Target Field:

Rangers (35-28)

1. Elvis Andrus, SS
2. David Murphy, DH
3. Josh Hamilton, LF
4. Michael Young, 2B
5. Adrian Beltre, 3B
6. Nelson Cruz, RF
7. Mitch Moreland, 1B
8. Yorvit Torrealba, C
9. Endy Chavez, CF

LHP Derek Holland (5-1, 4.36 ERA, 4.01 FIP, 2.14 K/BB)

Twins (23-38)

1. Ben Revere, CF
2. Alexi Casilla, SS
3. Michael Cuddyer, RF
4. Justin Morneau, DH
5. Delmon Young, LF
6. Danny Valencia, 3B
7. Luke Hughes, 1B
8. Rene Rivera, C
9. Matt Tolbert, 2B

RHP Nick Blackburn (5-4, 3.57 ERA, 4.51 FIP, 1.82 K/BB)

Twins trying to keep things loose (Game 61 vs. Indians)

CLEVELAND — Having won five of their last six games, the Twins are trying their best to keep things loose.

The relievers are certainly doing their part, as they’ve been coming up with interesting ways to make their way to the bullpen before the game.

Before Monday’s game, they were a bobsled team, and before Tuesday’s game they were a canoe before closer Matt Capps joined and became a motor to power the boat. Catcher Drew Butera has been the creative mind behind it all, but left-hander Chuck James has been called the ring leader among the relievers.

“It gives everyone something to look forward to,” James said. “It kind of eases the weight a little bit out there and lets everyone relax a little bit. We’ve been winning and it’s been working so I guess we’ll keep sticking with it now.”

He also added the Twins will debut a new creation before Thursday’s game at Target Field against the Rangers, so that should be “entertainment” as Ron Gardenhire has been calling it. SportsCenter is also going to do a piece on it, but here’s a link to see their bobsled antics from Monday in case you missed it:

Click here to watch the video.

Lineups for the 11:05 CT start at Progressive Field

Twins (22-38)

1. Ben Revere, CF
2. Alexi Casilla, SS
3. Michael Cuddyer, RF
4. Justin Morneau, DH
5. Delmon Young, LF
6. Danny Valencia, 3B
7. Luke Hughes, 1B
8. Matt Tolbert, 2B
9. Drew Butera, C

RHP Carl Pavano (3-5, 4.83 ERA, 3.89 FIP, 1.76 K/BB)

Indians (34-25)

1. Michael Brantley, LF
2. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
3. Grady Sizemore, CF
4. Carlos Santana, RF
5. Shin-Soo Choo, RF
6. Matt LaPorta, DH
7. Cord Phelps, 2B
8. Jack Hannahan, 3B
9. Lou Marson, C

RHP Justin Masterson (5-4, 3.28 ERA, 3.21 FIP, 2.15 K/BB)

Twins shake up lineup (Game 59 vs. Indians)

CLEVELAND — With Ben Revere and Alexi Casilla swinging hot bats, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire went with an unconventional lineup for Monday night’s game against the Indians, as Denard Span is batting third after Revere and Casilla.

It marks the first time Span, who usually bats leadoff, gets a start as the club’s third hitter in his professional career. In fact, Span said he hadn’t batted third since his days at Tampa Catholic High School.

“It definitely caught me off-guard when he told me that,” Span said. “I hadn’t hit third since I was a senior in high school.”

Gardenhire said he simply wanted to change things up and see if the club can utilize its speed at the top of the lineup against Indians right-hander Josh Tomlin, who is making his first-ever start against the Twins.

“We just mixed it up a little bit,” Gardenhire said. “We’re trying to balance our lineup up and down. It looks like entertainment. Span-man is feeling pretty good and he’s been one of our best hitters, so he’s hitting third.”

Full lineups for the 6:05 p.m. CT start at Progressive Field

Twins (21-37)

1. Ben Revere, RF
2. Alexi Casilla, SS
3. Denard Span, CF
4. Michael Cuddyer, 1B
5. Justin Morneau, DH
6. Delmon Young, LF
7. Luke Hughes, 3B
8. Matt Tolbert, 2B
9. Drew Butera, C

RHP Scott Baker (2-4, 3.86 ERA, 2.87 K/BB, 4.06 FIP)

Cleveland (33-24)

1. Michael Brantley, LF
2. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
3. Grady Sizemore, CF
4, Carlos Santana, C
5. Shinn-Soo Choo, RF
6. Matt LaPorta, 1B
7. Travis Buck, DH
8. Orlando Cabrera, 2B
9. Jack Hannahan, 3B

RHP Josh Tomlin (7-2, 3.27 ERA, 3.73 K/BB, 4.33 FIP)

Mauer to catch in extended Spring Training (Game 54)

DETROIT — Joe Mauer is scheduled to take a significant step toward his recovery from weakness in his legs and right shoulder on Thursday, as he’s scheduled to catch three innings in an extended Spring Training game in Fort Myers, Fla.

It marks the first time Mauer will get behind the plate in a game setting since catching 10 innings against the Royals on April 12, as he’s only served as a designated hitter in extended Spring Training to this point since being placed on the disabled list. He’s also expected to get four at-bats on Thursday and will increase his innings at catcher as he moves forward.

“We’ll see how everything goes there,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He’ll get some at-bats and catch a ballgame and block some balls — the whole package. And we’ll steadily move forward and get him playing a full nine innings and we’ll go from there.”

Gardenhire said there is still no official timetable for Mauer’s return, but that he’ll need to prove he can catch a full nine innings on a regular basis before he rejoins the Twins.

“He has to be healthy and that means going about his business like he usually does,” Gardenhire said. “Once he’s healthy and has played enough games where everything is going along good, then we bring him up here. But it makes no sense to bring him back after a couple days. That’s why it’s been a long process.”

Lineups for the 6:05 p.m. CT start at Comerica Park

Twins (17-36)

1. Denard Span, CF
2. Alexi Casilla, SS
3. Justin Morneau, 1B
4. Michael Cuddyer, 2B
5. Jim Thome, DH
6. Danny Valencia, 3B
7. Delmon Young, LF
8. Jason Repko, RF
9. Drew Butera, C

RHP Scott Baker (2-3, 3.65 ERA. 3.98 FIP, 3.05 K/BB)

Tigers (28-26)

1. Don Kelly, LF
2. Ramon Santiago, 2B
3. Brennan Boesch, RF
4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
5. Victor Martinez, DH
6. Andy Dirks, CF
7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
8. Alex Avila, C
9. Brandon Inge, 3B

RHP Rick Porcello (4-3, 3.93 ERA, 4.13 FIP, 2.13 K/BB)

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