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Updated: June 27th, 2011 10:16pm
Twins Daily: Blowout loss to Dodgers stands as worst in over 30 years

Twins Daily: Blowout loss to Dodgers stands as worst in over 30 years

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- For all of the Minnesota Twins' early struggles, their performance on Monday night at Target Field was their worst of the season, if not the worst in three decades. The Los Angeles Dodgers ripped Nick Blackburn for eight early runs and went on to pound out 25 hits in a 15-0 blowout, the Twins' sixth consecutive loss and by far the most disheartening.

The skinny

Blackburn's rough outing was far from the only problem for the Twins (32-45), who looked like a wreck one week after winning their eighth in a row at San Francisco.

They managed only four hits and struck out 11 times against a Dodgers pitching staff that entered with the eighth-worst ERA (4.12) and opponent batting average (.254) in baseball. Shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka committed one of the team's two errors and couldn't handle another ball the official scorer belatedly ruled a hit.

Boos from the sellout crowd of 39,487 began to rise when reliever Anthony Swarzak's wild pitch skipped through catcher Joe Mauer's legs, allowing the Dodgers' eighth run to cross the plate in the fifth inning. And third-base coach Steve Liddle waved Alexi Casilla into an out at home plate on Mauer's double with the Twins down 10-0 in the sixth.

"We got murdered," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Everything we threw up there, pretty much from the beginning, found holes and were hits. A lot of runs across. We missed some plays early in the game that cost us a little bit. But more than anything else, (25) hits is -- that's a lot of hitting going on and not a lot of swings on our side were very good."

The loss was the Twins' most lopsided in a shutout since a 17-0 defeat against the California Angels on April 23, 1980. The Dodgers' 25 hits were the most the Twins have allowed since they moved to Minnesota in 1961.

"That was embarrassing, really," third baseman Danny Valencia said. "We didn't hit. We didn't pitch. Played a little shoddy defense. A culmination of all those things leads to that type of score. It was bad. You don't ever want to be part of something like that."

Trent Oeltjen, Casey Blake and Matt Kemp homered for the Dodgers (36-44), who scored in all but two innings and rolled to their most lopsided victory this season on the day owner Frank McCourt entered the troubled franchise into bankruptcy protection.

The loss marked the 17th time the Twins have scored one run or none this season -- tied for fifth-most in baseball -- and dropped them 10 games behind surging Detroit (43-36) in the American League Central Division standings. Not the way the Twins wanted to start a stretch of 21 in 25 games at home.

"That was ugly as it could be," Blackburn said. "I'll keep saying it -- we have to put it beyond us and come back."

Turning point

An ugly top of the first set the tone for a Twins team that desperately needed to gain some positive momentum.

Tony Gwynn Jr. led off with a single, stole second when Mauer's throw drifted to the wrong side of the bag and advanced to third on Blake's groundout.

The next batter, Andre Ethier, hit a grounder a couple of steps to Nishioka's left. But Nishioka mishandled the ball, Gwynn scored and Kemp followed the right-center field wall to score Ethier and stake the Dodgers to a 2-0 lead that only grew from there.

"You saw (Kemp's) ball go out to right-center field that neither (Michael) Cuddyer or Ben Revere even saw through the sun," Gardenhire said. "Total lost the ball, had no idea where it was coming down and they both just ran to an area and the ball landed, and that's pretty much how our night went all night."

Numbers game

24: The previous Twins club record for hits allowed, set on June 11, 1996, against Seattle.

0: Times in Dodgers history every player in the lineup had at least one hit, one run and one RBI before they did it on Monday night.

6: Consecutive losses for the Twins in interleague play, a club record.

12: Hits allowed by Blackburn, who struck out one, walked one and threw 72 pitches (47 pitches) in 4 1/3 innings. "I knew going in that they were pretty aggressive," Blackburn said. "But it's not like they were hitting all the same pitches either. They were hitting changeups. They were hitting curveballs, sliders. So, just one of those nights was up, wasn't really spotting up and unfortunately, it happens."

2: Total runs scored by the Twins in Blackburn's past three starts.

2: Home runs allowed by LHP Phil Dumatrait, who gave up the blasts to Blake and Kemp in a three-batter span in the seventh inning.

444: Estimated distance (in feet) of Kemp's homer, a rare shot to leave Target Field in straightaway center field.

3: Runs allowed by LHP Jose Mijares, who gave up three hits and walked two in the eighth inning.

2: Fans in Dodgers jerseys escorted out of the stadium in the eighth inning as other fans cheered.

7: Consecutive home games the Twins had won entering Monday.

15: Runs DH Jim Thome needs to drive in to match Tony Perez (1,652) for 27th on baseball's all-time list. Thome passed Ernie Banks for 28th on Sunday.

Health watch

• OF Jason Kubel (left foot sprain) was scheduled to travel to Fort Myers, Fla., on Tuesday to begin a rehab assignment with the Single-A Miracle (through Thursday) and Double-A New Britain (Friday through Sunday).

• CF Denard Span (whiplash/concussion) has begun running and doing agility drills outdoors. However, he still is hitting in the batting cage only and has to pass final post-concussion tests the Twins must submit to major league baseball.

• OF Delmon Young (right ankle sprain) underwent another MRI on Monday. The results weren't immediately available.

• 1B Justin Morneau (neck) is scheduled to undergo surgery on Wednesday.

• RHP Kevin Slowey (abdominal strain) is scheduled to throw about 50 pitches in three to four innings of work with the Miracle on Wednesday.

Overheard

"It's been a weird kind of scenario. I find myself worrying about telling him he was my favorite player as a kid, and I'm trying not to. But it's been going good."
-- Dodgers RHP Matt Guerrier, the former Twin, on playing for manager Don Mattingly

On deck

The Twins will send left-hander Brian Duensing (4-7, 4.54 ERA) to the mound Tuesday night (7:10 p.m., 1500 ESPN). Duensing's .328 opponent batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is up from a career-low .272 last season and the sixth-highest of all major-league starters this season. However, his 3.48 fielding-independent pitching (FIP) -- best among the Twins' starters -- indicates he is due for a turnaround.

In his first 11 games (10 starts), Duensing posted an ERA of 5.37. He hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in any of his past four starts, posting a 2.38 ERA. The Dodgers will counter with 35-year-old lefty Ted Lilly (5-7, 4.63), who will be making his 302nd career start.

After finishing last season in Los Angeles (12 starts), where he posted a 3.58 ERA, Lilly re-signed for three years and a reported $33 million. He has been hit hard in his first four June starts, allowing 14 earned runs in only 21 innings (6.00 ERA). He has pitched against only four current Twins batters (Cuddyer, Thome, Mauer and Matt Tolbert), who have a collective seven hits in 26 at-bats (.269) against the 13th-year veteran.

Coming up

• Wednesday: vs. Los Angeles Dodgers, 12:10 p.m. RHP Scott Baker (5-5, 3.39) vs. RHP Rubby De La Rosa (3-2, 5.26).
• Thursday: Off.
• Friday: vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 7:10 p.m. LHP Francisco Liriano (4-7, 4.98) vs. RHP Yovani Gallardo (9-4, 3.92).

Albert Maruggi contributed.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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