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Updated: June 22nd, 2010 10:33pm
Scott Baker unable to take advantage of first-inning run support

Scott Baker unable to take advantage of first-inning run support

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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Fresh off a seven-inning, 12-strikeout, scoreless masterpiece at Target Field against the Rockies last week, Scott Baker was unable to rekindle the magic in Milwaukee on Tuesday night.

Despite being given a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning, Baker allowed five earned runs on nine hits in six innings, as the Twins lost to the Brewers 7-5.

This was the fifth time in Baker's 15 starts that the offense has scored a run in the first inning. The Twins are 3-2 in those games.

Baker, who struck out seven while walking none, has been extremely inconsistent all season long. In those 15 starts, he has allowed at least four earned runs seven times. He also has yet to string together three consecutive starts of allowing two earned runs or fewer.

The Twins made it interesting with nobody out in the top of the eighth, when a two-RBI double by Delmon Young cut a four-run lead to a two-run lead, but Jason Kubel lined into a double play to end the inning.

Twins lead MLB in first-inning runs

Brewers' RHP Dave Bush was originally scheduled to start Tuesday night's game against the Twins, but manager Ken Macha decided to push him back until Friday so he wasn't forced to relive the nightmares from Target Field.

As you may recall, Bush allowed seven earned runs and eight baserunners in Minnesota on May 21 before being yanked from the game with only one out in the first inning.

Coincidentally, replacement starter Chris Narveson almost dug a similar grave for himself, only without the needling of the homeplate umpire.

Narveson hit Denard Span to leadoff the game, then he issued walks to Orlando Hudson and Joe Mauer. Justin Morneau followed with a two-run single to left, and Michael Cuddyer laced an RBI single as well, putting the Twins up 3-0. Delmon Young became the sixth-straight Twins hitter to reach base when he singled to load the bases again with nobody out.

After that, however, Danny Valencia popped out on the first pitch he saw, Nick Punto struck out looking, and Scott Baker hit a tapper back to the mound.

The inning could have turned out much worse for Narveson, who didn't allow another run the rest of the way -- five innings, three earned runs, five hits, two walks and three strikeouts.

The Twins, who as a team were hitting .307/.391/.458 in the first frame heading into Tuesday, have now scored 57 first-inning runs this season -- tops in the majors, and the most runs they have scored in any inning by far (47, seventh inning). Of the 25 times the Twins have scored in the first inning (in 70 games), they have posted a crooked number 19 times.

In other words, the Twins score at least two runs in the first inning 27 percent of the time. That's pretty impressive.

Too bad Baker couldn't hold the lead on Tuesday.

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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