Twins Daily: With Joe Mauer's help, Carl Pavano solid in win over Sox
CHICAGO -- A solid outing by Carl Pavano, combined with an offensive outburst against Phil Humber and a solid debut by Joe Mauer at first base led to a 6-2 win by the Minnesota Twins over the Chicago White Sox on Thursday night.
Not only did Joe Mauer emerge unscathed from his first career start at first base, but Matt Capps pitched a clean ninth to create some extra positive vibes for a Twins team that has now defeated the White Sox eight consecutive times.
Starting pitcher Carl Pavano allowed two earned runs on six hits in seven innings, striking out four and walking two. And the offense pounded out 13 hits off former Twin Phil Humber and company -- three each by Mauer and Ben Revere.
"It always helps with that nice lead the guys gave me," Pavano said.
"Anytime in your division, especially with the break coming up, with the type of baseball we've been playing, it's always good. Its tarts with pitching and defense, and we did that well today. And we got some runs. The rest is history."
Aggressive baserunning and a smattering of two-out runs helped the Twins pull away from the White Sox on Thursday night.
After driving home Danny Valencia with a one-out single in the second inning, Nishioka stole second to put himself in scoring position. Drew Butera grounded to third for the second out, but Revere came through with a two-out RBI single to center, putting the Twins up 3-0.
Two innings later, it was Mauer who delivered a two-out, RBI single to right field, scoring Butera from second. When Paul Konerko made an ill-advised back-handed toss to Gordon Beckham in an attempt to catch Mauer off-guard at first base, the ball skipped over near the Twins' dugout, allowing Revere to plate the sixth run.
5: The number of batted balls fielded by Mauer at first base. "I probably had almost every ball you can think of over there tonight, so that was good," Mauer said, adding "I was nervous. I kind of felt like it was my first big league game again in the field, but I was just happy to get that first inning out of the way, and as the game went on I started feeling a little bit more comfortable."
5: Consecutive hits for Tsuyoshi Nishioka dating back to Wednesday until his groundout in the fifth inning ended the streak. "Really it's about relaxing," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He's getting to know this league and everything, but more than anything else, not putting too much pressure on himself."
12: Singles for the Twins out of 13 total hits. Valencia's double was the lone extra-base hit.
8: Consecutive wins for the Twins over the White Sox.
1: Clean inning pitched by Matt Capps, who has struggled mightily in his last three outings. Capps credited an adjustment in where the catcher, Drew Butera, was positioned in helping him locate better. "Yeah, it feels good," Capps said. "It certainly feels a lot better right now after the game than it has the last couple of times I've thrown after a game. It's good. Hopefully that's a step in the right direction."
"I think he was more surprised just to see me over there. But I told him, 'You're going to help me out, right?' And he started laughing."
-- Mauer, talking about his discussions with White Sox first base coach and former major leaguer Harold Baines.
• An MRI on right-hander Scott Baker's elbow showed only a mild strain of the flexor muscle. Baker will miss his next scheduled start on Sunday, and he'll resume throwing again after the All-Star break.
• OF Jason Kubel (sprained left foot) will continue to do light work until the All-Star break, and "we'll see where he is after that," head athletic trainer Rick McWane said. Kubel has been sidelined for five weeks and returned home earlier this week after suffering a setback during his rehab assignment with Single-A Fort Myers.
• 1B Justin Morneau (wrist, neck) will continue undergoing light neck and wrist therapy until the break, but will "start ramping it up," McWane said, beginning next week.
• OF Denard Span (concussion) "had a good day," per McWane, taking early batting practice and running around U.S. Cellular Field. "He's doing really good, so we're happy with how he feels ... He's had about three good days in a row."
• OF Delmon Young (sprained ankle) played seven innings in left field on Thursday night for Triple-A Rochester, going 2-for-4 with an RBI.
• RHP Kevin Slowey (abdominal strain) is scheduled to start and throw 70-75 pitches for Rochester on Sunday.
The series continues Friday (7:10 p.m., 1500 ESPN) when right-hander Nick Blackburn (6-6, 4.02) takes on right-hander Gavin Floyd (6-8, 4.17).
Blackburn steamrolled through his first four starts in June, but he has struggled mightily over his last two outings, allowing 13 earned runs on 19 hits in 8 1/3 innings (14.04 ERA), bloating his season ERA from 3.15 to 4.02. In two outings against the White Sox this year, however, Blackburn has allowed only one earned run in 14 2/3 innings, striking out two and walking five.
The Twins scored four runs on 11 hits in eight innings against Floyd at Target Field on June 15, which was actually a slight moral victory for the right-hander. Floyd owns a 5.20 career ERA against the Twins in 14 starts, allowing 107 hits and 15 home runs in only 90 innings.
• Saturday: @ Chicago White Sox, 3:10 p.m. LHP Brian Duensing (6-7, 4.25) vs. LHP Mark Buehrle (6-5, 3.66)
• Sunday: @ Chicago White Sox, 1:10 p.m. RHP Anthony Swarzak (1-2, 3.71) vs. RHP Jake Peavy (4-2, 3.83)
• Monday: All-Star break begins