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Updated: May 15th, 2012 2:43pm
Derek Lowe makes history in shutout of Twins; Marquis 'embarrassing'

Derek Lowe makes history in shutout of Twins; Marquis 'embarrassing'

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Tuesday's match-up between a groundball-inducing pitcher against a groundball-heavy offense turned out exactly how most would expect in a 5-0 win by the Cleveland Indians over the Minnesota Twins.

The skinny

The Twins offense was unable to do anything against notorious groundball-inducer Derek Lowe, who pitched a complete-game shutout without even recording a strikeout.

Lowe allowed six hits and walked four while throwing 127 pitches. He induced 20 groundballs out of the 28 balls put into play.

"He worked ahead in the count for the most part and got groundballs," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Jason (Marquis) saw the difference. One guy is throwing the sinkers and getting the ball to the ground, and Marquis is throwing his sinker and it's staying up. They put some balls in the seats and put us in a hole, but their pitcher did what you're supposed to do with a lead."

Lowe became the first pitcher to throw a complete-game shutout with zero strikeouts since Scott Erickson in 2002 for the Baltimore Orioles.

Even more impressive is the fact that Lowe, according to MLB's Pitch F/X data, threw 115 sinkers out of those 127 pitches.

"We threw one cutter to Willingham in the first inning," Lowe said. "He could have easily hit it for a home run. He popped it up. We threw a handful of changeups to Mauer and that was it. We tried to stay down and away. It was fun and also lucky."

Joe Mauer was penciled into the No. 2 slot in the batting order for the 72nd time in his career. He came into the game hitting .317/.373/.507 as a No. 2 hitter. He went 0-for-3 with three groundouts and a walk on Tuesday.

Brian Dozier was the lone bright spot for the Twins offensively, going 3-for-4 with a double.

If Twins starter Jason Marquis were a boxer, it's possible the match would have been stopped after four rounds.

Marquis grinded through the first four frames, allowing an RBI single to Casey Kotchman in the second and another RBI single to Asdrubal Cabrera in the third. The damage could have been worse, as Marquis' pitch count sat just shy of 80 heading into the fifth inning.

Maybe his corner should have thrown in the towel at that point.

Marquis was greeted by three solo home runs in the top of the fifth -- by Shin-Soo Choo, Cabrera and Carlos Santana. The latter two may not have landed yet. He left the game after five innings charged with five earned runs on nine hits and two walks while striking out two.

"Obviously I'm not throwing the ball the way I want," Marquis said. "It's getting embarrassing. Obviously I've got to make a change and do something different to get better results."

Marquis now owns a 6.68 ERA on the season (4.83 xFIP) and has walked more batters (13) than he has struck out (12).

Anthony Swarzak pitched two scoreless innings in relief of Marquis, walking one. Brian Duensing and Alex Burnett also pitched scoreless innings.

"As we say in this game, no one's feeling sorry for us," Gardenhire said. "We have to get it done. Sure, we're not getting a lot of breaks and stuff like that, but if you start playing better baseball breaks start going your way. Right now we're not getting it done as a group -- pitching, hitting, the whole package."

Turning point

The Twins attempted to mount a rally off Lowe in the bottom of the seventh. Ryan Doumit singled up the middle with one out, then Chris Parmelee followed with a two-out walk and Erik Komatsu beat out an infield single to load the bases.

But after a visit from pitching coach Scott Radinsky, Lowe got Alexi Casilla to pop out on the first pitch to end the inning.

Numbers game

4: Double plays grounded into by the Twins offense.

5: The number of games in which the Twins have grounded into at least three double plays.

11: Walks issued by Marquis over his last three starts (15 innings).

0: The number of teams that have hit a higher percentage of groundballs than the Twins this season.

.270: Mauer's batting average, which is down from .325 at the start of the month. When asked if the foul tip he took off his knee on April 29 is still an issue Mauer said, "I don't want to say that's the problem. Obviously I've been a little beat-up here, but just struggling at the plate and trying to get back to where I was. ... Just in a little funk. Just trying to get out of it. ... I think that'd be pretty obvious, I'm not feeling too good at the plate."

Health report

• A sore hamstring kept Denard Span out of the lineup for only the second time this season. The issue is not considered serious.

Justin Morneau (wrist) took aggressive swings in batting practice on Tuesday morning, and he will make the trip to Detroit on Wednesday. Morneau said he would prefer to play first base more often than not upon his return.

• RHP Carl Pavano (shoulder) will stay back in Minneapolis to work with a soft tissue specialist over the next couple days before flying to Milwaukee on Friday to make his scheduled start on Saturday. Pavano also expected to speak with Dr. David Altchek on Tuesday -- the same doctor who performed his Tommy John surgery a few years ago. "I have a little more of a personal relationship with him because of my past," Pavano said. "It's just an opportunity for him to give me an opinion. It could be the same opinion as the team doctor. A lot of times that's the way it works out. But we're entitled to a second opinion, so this is a good opportunity to use it." As of right now Pavano has no plans to take any time off, although he will continue to avoid throwing off a mound between starts in order to save bullets. He has been in regular communication with the team doctor and continues to do strengthening exercises.

On deck

Wednesday: @ Tigers, 6:05 p.m. RHP Nick Blackburn (1-4, 7.18) vs. RHP Rick Porcello (3-3, 5.18).
Thursday: @ Tigers, 12:05 p.m. RHP P.J. Walters (0-1, 3.00) vs. RHP Doug Fister (0-1, 0.54).

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
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