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Updated: May 10th, 2011 11:28pm
Twins Daily: Pitchers pelted by hailstorm, Tigers bats; offense silent

Twins Daily: Pitchers pelted by hailstorm, Tigers bats; offense silent

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Twins were hammered not only by a hailstorm on Tuesday night, but also by Detroit Tigers bats in a 10-2 loss at Target Field.

The skinny

If you guessed that Francisco Liriano would leave his no-hitter encore after three innings with shortness of breath just minutes before a 64-minute rain delay brought golf ball-sized hail to Target Field, well ... You win.

In more predictable news, shaky pitching and a continuously lifeless and battered offense steered the Twins to a 10-2 defeat at the hands of the Tigers on Tuesday night.

Liriano lasted just three innings, allowing four earned runs on three hits and three walks while striking out only one before leaving. The pitchers who followed didn't fare much better.

"It has to be done on the field," said frustrated manager Ron Gardenhire. "You can talk until you're blue in the face, but the guy that has the ball in his hand has to throw the ball over the plate. We can talk and preach, and you can say as much as you want to, but once you get between the lines there's very little that my pitching coach can do for him, or I can do for him. They have to throw the ball over. They have to attack the strike zone and throw the ball over, and as you see we're putting way too many men on."

The Twins, saddled with the worst record in baseball (12-22), now sit 11 games behind the Cleveland Indians in the American League Central.

"I can't really worry about what Cleveland's doing right now," Gardenhire said. "I mean, really, we're having enough issues with ourselves. As you've seen, over and over again, one night we pitch our ass off, and tonight we go out and get this. If it were one thing going consistently down the road, then it would maybe be a little easier to fix."

Turning point

With how the Twins offense is performing this season, it doesn't take much for opposing teams to shut the lights out, and that's what the Tigers did with a two-run third inning.

Already leading 2-0, courtesy of Jhonny Peralta's two-run blast in the second, the Tigers received a one-out double by Austin Jackson, a walk by Scott Sizemore and a groundout by Magglio Ordonez that moved the runners to second and third with two outs.

Liriano issued a free pass to Miguel Cabrera to load the bases, then gave up a two-RBI single to Victor Martinez that put the Tigers up 4-0.

Numbers game

64: Length of the rain delay, in minutes, that interrupted play in the bottom of the fourth inning.

7.07: Liriano's ERA after Tuesday's clunker. Only Ryan Dempster (7.20) and Kyle Davies (7.32) have higher ERAs among qualified starting pitchers.

1: Career home runs for Rene Tosoni, who belted a solo shot into the right-field seats off Porcello in the fifth inning.

2: Innings pitched by Brian Duensing in relief of Liriano. Duensing allowed two earned runs on three hits while walking four and striking out nobody. Duensing was supposed to throw a bullpen session on Tuesady, but he was made available because of a rain-shortened start in Boston on Saturday. "I was hoping I didn't have to get in, but I was telling (pitching coach Rick Anderson), it's one thing to throw a bad bullpen and still tell yourself you threw a no-hitter, and actually having to go out in a game," Duensing said. "Things were just not going right. I was misfiring, all the mechanical things you get to work on in the bullpen, I wasn't doing the adjustments right in the game.

"We're kind of in a situation where the team could have used two or three quality innings out of me, and I kind of let them down that way."

9: Walks issued out by Twins pitchers -- three by Liriano, four by Duensing and two by Alex Burnett.

12: The number of pitches it took Jim Hoey to retire Miguel Cabrera in the top of the eighth inning. Cabrera eventually tapped one right back to the mound, but Hoey still gave up two runs on two hits in two innings.

.290: Drew Butera's OPS after an 0-for-3 performance.

Overheard

"I grew up in Oklahoma, lived in Kansas for 20 years. I've heard plenty of sirens."
-- Gardenhire, when asked about playing in driving rain with tornado sirens blaring in the background.

Health watch

• C Joe Mauer (leg weakness) is finally back to participating in baseball activities, but he has yet to crouch or do any catching, and a timetable for his return to the lineup is still unknown.

• An MRI on shortstop Trevor Plouffe's hamstring showed only a mild strain. Plouffe went out and ran sprints prior to Tuesday's game, but he was unavailable to play, and the team has a difficult decision to make within the next couple days. "Day-to-day stuff is not helping me a bit," Gardenhire said. "We need either yes or no's. We'll give the kid a chance here -- a pretty quick day (Wednesday), and I'm hoping Delmon will be back by Friday and ready to go with us. I would think after the game (Wednesday), either one way or another, we'll make a roster move, and we'll see where Plouffe is at."

• OF Delmon Young (ribs) went 4-for-5 with three infield singles in an extended spring training game down in Fort Myers on Tuesday, and there's a good chance he will be activated after Wednesday's game against Detroit.

• DH Jim Thome (oblique/back) took batting practice in Fort Myers on Tuesday and will do the same on Wednesday before possibly playing in a game on Thursday. So far, Thome has reported no problems with his back and/or oblique.

• INF Tsuyoshi Nishioka (leg) experienced some soreness a couple days ago, "but that was a lot better today," head athletic trainer Rick McWane said. Gardenhire classified Nishioka's Florida workouts as "very light activities on the field. Under control ... rolling the ball to him very lightly."

• OF Jason Repko (quad) is out shagging fly balls and taking batting practice. He's eligible to return from the disabled list on May 17.

On deck

In need of a gem, the Twins will turn to their hottest starter, right-hander Scott Baker (2-2, 2.97), who will oppose Tigers lefty Phil Coke (1-5, 4.75) in Wednesday's matinee (12:10 p.m., 1500 ESPN).

Baker has been nothing short of phenomenal in his last four starts -- a 1.59 ERA, 25 strikeouts, four walks and two home runs allowed in 28 1/3 innings. Unfortunately for Baker, he has not fared particularly well against the current crop of Tigers hitters, allowing a .322/.355/.508 batting line with 27 extra-base hits in 262 plate appearances.

Coke is a converted reliever who, in six starts this season, owns a 4.54 ERA with 22 strikeouts, 12 walks and two home runs allowed in 33 2/3 innings. He last pitched in Toronto on Friday, giving up four earned runs on 11 hits in six innings in a 7-4 loss.

Coming up

• Thursday: Off day
• 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).

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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