Thursday, April 17, 2008

Sweet Relief

Twins 6, Rays 5

The Twins got back into the win column and evened their home record last night.

Livan finally started to show some cracks. Coming into the game he had a 2.57 ERA and 1.05 WHIP, going 7 innings in each of his first 3 starts, walking 1 and allowing no homers. Last night only 3 of the 5 runs he allowed were earned thanks to Brendan Harris' error, so his overall ERA remains low (3.00). But he served up 3 walks and 3 homers, and his WHIP for the game was 1.83. The Rays were pretty patient with him, forcing him to throw strikes, elevating his pitch count to 103 through just 6 IP. He was fortunate it wasn't worse - a DP and Mauer gunning down 2 potential base stealers helped him escape a couple of jams.

Still, when he left the Twins were in the game, and this time the middle relief did the job. Dennys Reyes saw his first action in over a week, taking over in the 7th with 1.1 efficient innings. Juan Rincon came in to finish the 8th, allowing a 2-out single but no other trouble. It was enough to earn the bullpen its first win of the season after an 0-3 road trip.

Each team took advantage of defensive miscues to score runs. Harris' error extended the 6th until Riggins could come up and hit a game-tying, 2-run HR. In the previous half inning, the Twins scored 2 on a throwing error by our old friend Jason Bartlett, who matched Everett with his 3rd error of the young season. Former Rays Delmon Young and Harris keyed the winning rally in the bottom of the 8th, singling to put runners at the corners with 1 out. Carl Crawford then elected to make a sliding catch on Mike Lamb's slicing foul fly ball, getting the out but giving himself no chance to throw out the tagging Young. With Lamb hitting .156, and Dan Wheeler allowing a very low BAA, Crawford might have been better off letting that one drop for a strike.

While they got some favors from the Rays, the Twins also helped themselves by working James Shields, a very solid young pitcher. He lasted just 5 innings, yielding 5 R (3 ER) on 8 H and a BB. Mauer is 5 for his last 8 and has the average back up to .300. Morneau came a couple feet short of HR #5. Kubel had a couple more hits and an RBI. Harris matched that and continues to lead the team with a .341 BA. Lamb and Punto continue to struggle.

Span vs. Gomez

Span had his worst night at the plate so far, going 0-4 with 2 K. He had a nice AB in the first, lining out on a 2-1 pitch. But other than that, he was pretty weak, twice failing to bring Gomez home from second base, and never getting the ball out of the infield.

Gomez had his first 2-hit game since Livan's last start. He lined a single on a 1-2 pitch in the 3rd, and finally got a bunt down in the 5th. Each time he stole 2nd to raise his League-leading SB total to 9. He raised his line to .262/.284/.369. He made another errant throw from the outfield in the 5th when he had no chance to throw out the speedy Crawford on a ground ball single from BJ Upton - he was fortunate that Morneau was able to cut the ball and keep Upton at first.

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