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Updated: June 7th, 2011 8:23pm
Twins Daily: Liriano fares well, but offense stymied in loss to Tribe

Twins Daily: Liriano fares well, but offense stymied in loss to Tribe

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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CLEVELAND -- Despite a solid return from the disabled list by Francisco Liriano, Minnesota Twins bats went silent against right-hander Carlos Carrasco on Tuesday night in a 1-0 loss to the Cleveland Indians.

The skinny

One night after peppering the Indians will small ball, the Twins offense was unable to generate any kind of a threat.

Heading into Tuesday night, Indians right-hander Carlos Carrasco had completed seven innings only once in 10 starts, but he allowed only four Twins baserunners while striking out six in 8 1/3 innings. Closer Chris Perez came in to finish the job in the ninth inning.

"Movement everywhere," said Michael Cuddyer when asked why Carrasco, who came in with a 5.18 ERA, was so effective. "The ball was moving all over the place. He kept the ball down, didn't make too many mistakes in the zone, and he kept his velocity up the whole game. ...

"We've faced him twice before, and I don't remember his sinker moving as much as it did tonight, and him spotting it, keeping it down in the zone. He never really got it up. That's why he was so effective."

Twins starter Liriano allowed only one run (zero earned) on three hits and three walks in five innings while striking out seven.

Turning point

With the Twins (22-38) and Indians locked in a scoreless tie, Indians first baseman Carlos Santana ripped a fair ball down the third-base line off Liriano. The ball caromed off the wall in foul territory and bounced right past left fielder Delmon Young, who was in perfect position to field it cleanly. Santana scampered to third base on the play.

The next batter, Shelley Duncan, grounded weakly to shortstop Alexi Casilla for an RBI groundout, giving the Indians a 1-0 lead.

Had Young played the ball cleanly, Santana likely would have remained at second base on Duncan's grounder. Shin-Soo Choo followed with a flare to shortstop, and Orlando Cabrera flew out to end the inning.

"It looked like he just took his eye up, probably looked up to the runner," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "The normal thing, when you miss a ball like that, is you're looking to see where the runner is instead of following the ball to the glove. I'm sure that's probably what happened out there. And it ends up putting us in a pretty sticky situation. That happens. Mistakes happen, and he just missed the ball."

Of course, the misplay was magnified by the fact that the Twins offense didn't score any runs.

"You don't win many games with three hits," Gardenhire said.

Numbers game

8: Consecutive wins by the Twins over the Indians until Tuesday night.

1: Wasted opportunitiy on offense for the Twins, who appeared on the verge of tying the game in the top of the fifth inning. Young tallied the team's first hit with a one-out double to centerfield, and Luke Hughes followed with a hard groundball up the middle. Instead of finding its way into centerfield, however, Hughes' grounder found its way into the glove of a diving Asdrubal Cabrera, who preserved a run with his diving stop. Hughes reached on an infield single, but neither Brian Dinkelman nor Rene Rivera were able to drive Young in from third. "We had probably one really good opportunity with Dinkelman up," Gardenhire said. "And he got a pitch to hit, just didn't get it to the outfield."

3: Spectacular defensive plays made by Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, including a glove flip to second baseman Orlando Cabrera in the seventh inning that started a 6-4-3 double play to retire the side and kill a potential Twins rally. "Yeah, he pretty much dominated us out there in the middle infield," Gardenhire said. "He's pretty good. We kept saying, 'dumb hitting, don't hit it to that guy.' And he made super, super plays ... He's a stud, to say the least."

81: Pitches thrown by Liriano, by design, in his first start since spending two weeks on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation. "My arm didn't bother me tonight, so everything felt the way I wanted to," Liriano said. "I was rushing a couple times, but other than that I was making very good pitches when I needed to. Everything went the way I wanted."

32: Players drafted by the Twins through the first two days of the Major League Baseball first-year player draft. The draft will conclude on Wednesday.

Overheard

"I just didn't think that pitch was a strike. At all."
-- Cuddyer, who got into a heated argument with homeplate umpire Adrian Johnson following a called third strike to end the ballgame.

"A couple days. It's good for him. He doesn't have any success off this guy anyway, 0-for-7 with no quality at-bats as far as our charts go. Just let him back off. It'll be good for him, because I know his head's going to be spinning now. And sometimes that's a good thing. Maybe get him a little fired up to stay focused. He's had time to work on his swing ... I like it when you can irritate people as a manager, that's good. I get irritated all the time, so sometimes the manager gets a chance to irritate people a little bit, and that kind of maybe, maybe, maybe get a little extra oomph out of him. He hasn't come in here yet. I dare him. Just kidding."
-- Gardenhire, talking about benching third baseman Danny Valencia for the second consecutive night.

Heath report

• OF Denard Span (neck) was scheduled to fly back to Minneapolis on Tuesday night to be checked out by doctors after reporting dizziness on Monday. Span missed two weeks in 2009 with what was eventually diagnosed as Vestibular Neuritis, and he said the symptoms he has experienced over the past couple days are very similar.

• RHP Nick Blackburn (back) threw a bullpen session on Tuesday, and he is in line to make his scheduled start on Thursday.

• C Joe Mauer (leg weakness, general soreness) reported no problems after catching five innings in a Single-A game for Fort Myers on Monday night. He is scheduled to catch between six and nine innings on Wednesday.

• SS Tsuyoshi Nishioka (broken fibula) also reported no issues after playing six innings at shortstop on Monday night. Nishioka worked out Tuesday, and he will play nine innings for Fort Myers on Wednesday.

• LHP Glen Perkins (oblique) felt fine after throwing a bullpen session on Tuesday, and it's possible he could soon be headed out on a rehab assignment.

• RHP Kevin Slowey (abdominal strain) has begun a throwing program in Fort Myers, but still has yet to stretch out beyond 90 feet.

• OF Jason Kubel (sprained foot) continues to do pool exercises, and it's likely he will mix in land activities within the next few days.

On deck

The Twins will attempt to win their second consecutive series in Wednesday's matinee match-up (11:05 a.m., 1500 ESPN) between right-hander Carl Pavano (3-5, 4.83) and right-hander Justin Masterson (5-4, 3.28).

Pavano went through a stretch in late April and early May where he pitched fewer than six innings in four of five starts. But Pavano has returned to his workhorse, innings-eating ways, throwing at least seven innings in his last four starts. That includes a complete game effort against the Royals in his last outing where he allowed only two runs.

Despite giving up 10 earned runs over his last two starts, Masterson is still on pace for a career season in the ERA, walk and home run departments. Masterson has issued a career-low 3.1 walks per nine innings while allowing only three home runs all season. The right-hander could have his hands full Wednesday, however, as Cuddyer (.421/.476/.474) and Justin Morneau (.417/.462/.750) have each seen the ball very well off him.

Coming up

• Thursday: vs. Texas, 7:10 p.m. Blackburn (5-4, 3.57) vs. LHP Derek Holland (5-1, 4.36).
• Friday: vs. Texas, 7:10 p.m. LHP Brian Duensing (3-5, 4.73) vs. LHP C.J. Wilson (6-3, 3.03).
• Saturday: vs. Texas, 11:05 a.m. RHP Scott Baker (3-4, 3.86) vs. RHP Colby Lewis (5-5, 4.37).

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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