Indians 4, Twins 0
Liriano was a little better tonight in his second start. While he was just as wild (5 BB), he lasted a bit longer (5 IP), gave up 1 fewer run (3 ER), and 2 fewer hits (4) than in his previous appearance. Not as many of the balls put in play were hit hard. A step forward for Liriano, albeit a small one. He won't be able to take a big step until he can locate his fastball.
There wasn't much hope against Cliff Lee tonight, as with Bannister in Liriano's previous start (Liriano must be jealous of Boof Bonser's run support!). The Twins gave themselves an excellent chance by having lengthy ABs in the early innings. I was particularly impressed with the bottom of the 5th, when Lee had to throw 19 pitches to get Young, Kubel and Monroe in order. At the end of that inning he was at 80 pitches. As it turned out, he left the game after 109 pitches despite giving up just 2 hits and being in total command of the game. That goes to show that had the Twins built off that taxing 5th, they might have been able to get Lee out of the game an inning or so earlier had they continued to have grinding ABs. Instead, Harris, Punto and Gomez went down on 6 pitches total in the 6th, Morneau hit into a double play in the 7th, and Lee was able to start the 8th still shy of the 100-pitch mark.
Two bright spots in a dull night:
Rincon and Crain each pitched 2 innings, walking none and striking out 2. The obligatory Casey Blake HR (he's got to get at least one in every series vs. the Twins - it's a rule) was the only hit allowed by either. Another solid outing from the middle relief!
Young and Monroe had as productive a combined 0-5 as is possible on a night like tonight. Together they saw 34 of Lee's 109 pitches. Young drew his 3rd walk of the season. The only AB for these two that lasted fewer than 5 pitches was when Monroe drove the 2nd pitch to the wall in left-center to end the 8th. If only the rest of the lineup had been so pesky!