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Updated: August 13th, 2011 8:45pm
Twins Daily: Cabrera's HR drowns Duensing; offense non-existent again

Twins Daily: Cabrera's HR drowns Duensing; offense non-existent again

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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The Minnesota Twins continued their tailspin with yet another uninspiring offensive performance -- a 3-1 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Saturday night on a night where Brian Duensing set a career-high in strikeouts.

The skinny

Asdrubal Cabrera's three-run homer off left-hander Duensing in the bottom of the third inning provided plenty of offense against a benign Twins lineup on Saturday night.

The Twins managed only five hits and a walk off right-hander Josh Tomlin and four relievers, marking the 25th time this season the offense has scored one or zero runs.

Aside from the home run, Duensing pitched one of his better games of the season, holding the Indians in check while striking out a career-high nine batters.

The loss drops the Twins (52-67) to 15 games below .500 for the first time since June 10.

Turning point

A crooked number by the Indians in the third inning was enough to bury a muffled Twins offense.

Duensing started the frame by issuing his only walk of the game to Shin-Soo Choo, and Jason Donald followed with a single to put runners on first and second for Cabrera, who promptly delivered a towering three-run homer to the deck in left field.

That was all the offense the Indians would muster against Duensing and company, but it was all they'd need.

Numbers game

3: Number of times the Twins have scored more than three runs in a game in the last 13 games.

9: Consecutive games with a hit for Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who raised his batting line to .226/.269/.253 with a single in three at-bats.

0-for-27: Denard Span snapped a long hitting slump with a single in the top of the sixth inning.

111: Pitches thrown by Duensing, who allowed three earned runs on nine hits and two walks in 6 2/3 innings to go along with the nine strikeouts.

Health report

• 2B Alexi Casilla was placed back on the 15-day disabled list after re-aggravating his right hamstring on Friday night.

• OF Michael Cuddyer (tweaked neck) did not play Saturday and remains day-to-day.

• RHP Scott Baker (right elbow) will not throw until the Twins return home from the current road trip on Thursday, at the earliest.

On deck

The Twins look to avoid a sweep on Sunday (12:05 p.m., 1500 ESPN) when right-hander Kevin Slowey (0-0, 4.91) makes his first start of the season against left-hander David Huff (1-1, 0.51).

Slowey's last major league appearance came on May 20, when he allowed two earned runs on three hits in 2/3 innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was placed on the disabled list shortly after with a strained abdomen and spent two months rehabbing -- despite an MRI and a hernia exam showing no damage. The Twins were hoping Slowey could adjust to a late-inning bullpen role early in the season, at least temporarily, but the right-hander made it clear he did not feel comfortable pitching out of the bullpen. All parties have expressed a willingness to leg bygones be bygones and move forward, and that process begins Sunday.

Huff has allowed only one earned run in 17 2/3 innings over three starts for the Indians this year, striking out 15 and walking only four, but he has spent the majority of the year with Triple-A Columbus, where he owns a 3.87 ERA with 66 strikeouts and 30 walks in 107 innings.

Coming up

• Monday: @ Tigers, 6:05 p.m. LHP Francisco Liriano (7-9, 5.00) vs. RHP Rick Porcello (11-7, 4.93)
• Tuesday: @ Tigers, 6:05 p.m. RHP Nick Blackburn (7-9, 4.36) vs. RHP Justin Verlander (17-5, 2.35)
• Wednesday: @ Tigers, 6:05 p.m. RHP Carl Pavano (6-9, 4.55) vs. RHP Brad Penny (8-9, 4.99)

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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