Cubs 3, Twins 2
Twins 8, Pirates 2
Pirates 8, Twins 2
Twins 5, Pirates 1
I'm pretty satisfied with how things have gone since Saturday. The Twins have only allowed 14 R over the past 4 games, more than half of them in last night's loss. As for the other loss, the lineup was without Denard Span, Michael Cuddyer and Joe Crede, so it's understandable that they were stymied by a quality pitcher like Ted Lilly. My only real regret is that I dropped Cuddyer from my fantasy team on Sunday night pending a waiver pickup of Russell Martin, who can't possibly continue to slump as badly as he has the rest of the season. At the time I made the claim, it looked likely that Cuddyer would go on the DL, so no big loss. By the time it went through, however, Cuddyer had his cortisone shot and it was Span who hit the DL. Naturally, since losing him from my roster on Wednesday, Cuddyer has gone 4 for 6 with 2 walks, a HR and a 3B. Oh well.
Had I been able to muster the energy to write something on Monday, it would have been about how the Twins needed to get Jesse Crain off of the 25-man roster. Luckily, someone in the front office is a step ahead of me, for once, and Crain was sent to Rochester to make room for Glen Perkins to come off the DL. AAA is definitely the best place to find out whether Crain can put himself back together. He was killing the Twins, having allowed 5 ER on 10 H and 5 BB over his last 6 appearances (4.1 IP).
I share Gardy's assessment that Wednesday night was actually a pretty good start for Liriano. I'm especially pleased by the 6/1 K/BB ratio. He's still got to be better with men on base, but he's headed in the right direction.
Nick Blackburn found himself just about exactly where he was last Thursday afternoon, cruising into the 8th inning with a 3-0 lead. While he'd been fortunate for most of the first 7 IP last week to have some hard-hit balls find Twins' gloves, the 4 H he allowed through the first 7 IP today were all bloopers and bleeders - hardly anything was hit hard. He walked one in the 8th, then came out to a 5-0 9th inning lead thanks to Brian Buscher's 2nd HR (great to see him swing assertively at a hittable fastball!). Blackburn was not as effective in the last inning, but his luck held as the first 2 batters lined out to Crede and Nick Punto was able to end the game on a diving stop in the hole. In between, the Pirates were able to get a 2-out run on a 2B and RBI single. A fine performance for Blackburn's first CG win.
By the way, the two 2B Blackburn allowed both probably would have been caught by Span - Cuddyer's limited range was really on display today, though he certainly made up for it at the plate. This reminds me of the other little change I was happy to see today: Cuddyer hitting ahead of Crede. Cuddy's got .056 points of OBP on Crede - that alone makes the move a good decision. Never mind that he's also topping Crede in BA and SLG%, and they're now tied in HR.
Things are beginning to come together for the Twins - I can't wait to see what the offense can do once Span returns next week.