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Updated: May 11th, 2011 4:06pm
Twins Daily: Jason Kubel's blast wasted in late-inning loss to Tigers

Twins Daily: Jason Kubel's blast wasted in late-inning loss to Tigers

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Jason Kubel's dramatic, go-ahead three-run bomb in the bottom of the seventh inning turned out to be fool's gold on Wednesday, as the Detroit Tigers roared back with two crooked numbers against closer Matt Capps in a 9-7 victory over the Minnesota Twins.

The skinny

The baseball gods gave the Twins hope, then swiftly pulled out the table cloth.

With the Twins trailing 5-3 in the bottom of the seventh, Kubel -- basically the team's only hot hitter through six weeks -- blasted a go-ahead, three-run homer that resulted in a curtain call in front of a sellout Target Field crowd.

The buzz soon wore off, however, as the Tigers answered with a two-run homer by Jhonny Peralta in the top of the eighth inning off closer Capps.

The Twins answered with a run in the bottom of the eighth, when Ben Revere scored from first on Matt Tolbert's double, but the Tigers touched Caps up for two more runs in the top of the ninth -- an RBI triple by Brandon Inge and an RBI squeeze bunt by Austin Jackson -- closing the door on a 9-7 win.

Turning point

It appeared as if Kubel's bomb would give the Twins a lift they desperately needed -- both in Wednesday's game and possibly for a fast-sinking season.

Summoned to bridge the gap to the ninth inning, left-hander Jose Mijares came on to protect a 6-5 lead in the eighth. Mijares got Scott Sizemore to fly out, but walked Brennan Boesch on five pitches shortly after. Having seen enough, manager Ron Gardenhire went straight to his closer, Matt Capps, to tally a five-out save.

That plan went wayward when pinch-hitter Peralta blasted the second pitch he saw off the facing of the left-field upper deck, putting the Tigers back up 7-6.

Numbers game

460: Estimated distance, in feet, for Kubel's three-run moonshot to the right-field upper deck in the seventh inning off left-hander Daniel Schlereth. "It definitely did shift the momentum on our side," Kubel said, "but they came right back and put us back down. But we fought back, and then it got away from us again." In theory, the Tigers could have issued a free pass to the Twins' hottest hitter, because first base was open. "I wouldn't load the bases up for Morneau, but it kind of surprised me a little bit on that pitch," Kubel said. "I wasn't expecting that. I just reacted on it, which is what you're supposed to do. Just react, and it worked out. But yeah, I'm not expecting to get a free pass just because I'm hitting well. I mean, we had a former MVP behind me. He's made them pay already for doing that earlier in the year, so it's a tough call."

1: The number of three-run homers hit by the Twins in 2011.

4: The number of times Capps has thrown more than one inning this season. The closer said earlier this season that sitting on the bench between innings can be difficult, but he made no excuses for Wednesday's blown save, saying, "I've got a job to do, and Peralta didn't hit the homer after I was sitting in the dugout, so I get him to roll over that and that sit in the dugout is a little more enjoyable." Capps added, "They're paying me a lot of money to get people out. If they want me to do that in the eighth inning and the ninth inning, I've got to find a way to get it done."

5: Walks issued out by starting pitcher Scott Baker, whose string of four fantastic starts came crashing to a halt. Baker gave up five earned runs on six hits and six walks while striking out six in 4 1/3 innings.

13: The number of times the Twins pitching staff has walked at least five batters in a game so far this season in only 35 contests. The staff issued eight free passes on Wednesday.

Overheard

"I don't know that any of them are ever more tough than others. I mean, a loss is a loss, a blown is a blown save, an earned run is an earned run. A spade's a spade. It is what it is. They all suck."
-- Capps, when asked if this particular blown save stung more because of Kubel's home run and the current state of the team.

"I mean, we don't have those characters on the team. We don't have Nick Punto with the green thong, we don't have some of the other stuff ... You can't make people like that. You can't make people with that type of stuff, and you don't have to have that type of stuff, but chemistry is one thing that we definitely have had here.

"It's hard to pinpoint, and when you're losing it's hard to start dancing and jumping around and stuff too at the same time. When you're winning, everybody's a character."
-- Michael Cuddyer, when asked if something was missing from a clubhouse chemistry standpoint.

Health report

• LHP Francisco Liriano (illness) left Tuesday night's game after just three innings due to weakness, dizziness and shortness of breath. The left-hander said he felt much better on Wednesday. "I didn't get a chance to recover my body," said Liriano, who first came down with flu symptoms last weekend in Boston. "I feel like I didn't have any energy (Tuesday). It was hard to catch my breath. I was so weak and dizzy, so I don't know where it comes from ... It was humid too, and hot. I got dizzy, and it (was) hard for me to breathe." The left-hander also said "When I woke up (Tuesday) I had a headache. I used to never have headaches. It was kind of weird for me." Liriano said he didn't get home until approximately 4 o'clock in the morning on Tuesday after the Twins' red-eye flight from Boston, adding "I have a little (kid), so I didn't really sleep."

• SS Trevor Plouffe will receive another day or two to test out his mild hamstring strain. If he's unable to play by Friday, the Twins may place him on the disabled list.

• OF Delmon Young (ribs) was scheduled to play six innings in left field at extended spring training in Fort Myers, and if all goes well he will rejoin the team on Friday for a three-game series against the Blue Jays.

• OF Jason Repko (quad) was scheduled to fly to Fort Myers on Wednesday to work out at extended spring training.

On deck

The Twins have an off day Thursday before hosting the Toronto Blue Jays in a three-game series beginning Friday.

Coming up

• Friday: vs. Toronto, 7:10 p.m. RHP Carl Pavano (2-4, 6.64) vs. LHP Ricky Romero (2-4, 4.04).
• Saturday: vs. Toronto, 3:10 p.m. RHP Nick Blackburn (2-4, 3.95) vs. LHP Jo-Jo Reyes (0-3, 5.00).
• Sunday: vs. Toronto, 1:10 p.m. LHP Brian Duensing (3-3, 3.32) vs. RHP Brandon Morrow (1-2, 4.71).

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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