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Updated: May 13th, 2011 10:13pm
Twins Daily: Romero's gem marks fourth time Twins have been blanked

Twins Daily: Romero's gem marks fourth time Twins have been blanked

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Carl Pavano and a slew of relievers held a potent Toronto Blue Jays lineup to just one run on Friday night, but the Minnesota Twins offense came up punchless against tough left-hander Ricky Romero in a 2-0 loss at Target Field.

The skinny

It doesn't seem to matter what the map looks like these days. All paths lead to losses for the Twins.

Pavano grinded his way through 5 1/3 scoreless innings, and the combination of Alex Burnett, Jim Hoey, Glen Perkins and Joe Nathan kept the Blue Jays offense in check, at least for the most part.

But the Twins offense was only able to muster four hits and six baserunners against Romero, who pitched 8 2/3 scoreless innings. Frank Francisco came on to retire Michael Cuddyer with two men on and two out in the bottom of the ninth.

Turning point

With the score tied 0-0 and Pavano out of the game, Alex Burnett burnett gave up a leadoff single to Corey Patterson before issuing a free pass to Jose Bautista.

Manager Ron Gardenhire then summoned Jim Hoey to face Juan Rivera, who singled to shallow left field, scoring Patterson to break the tie. Hoey settled in to strike out Aaron Hill, then he induced an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play by J.P. Arencibia.

But one run was all Toronto needed with Romero throwing the way he was.

"He's pretty tough," Gardenhire said. "You go up there and say 'You've got to jump on the first pitch,' and then he has 40 pitches in eight innings. You tell the guys to stay back and then they're behind 0-2.

"He pounded the zone in and out. He used his breaking ball, his change-up and you saw that fastball, cutting inside. He really kept us off-balance all night. Some times pitchers do that to you."

Numbers game

115: Pitches for Pavano, which is the most he's thrown since May 17, 2005 against the Seattle Mariners. Pavano threw 133 pitches that night in a complete-game shutout as a member of the Yankees. On Friday, Pavano gave up seven hits and three walks while striking out one.

"I was no better than my last two starts, to be honest with you," Pavano said. "I didn't have much out there. I feel like I had one pitch, and Danny made some great plays down the line that got us out of some jams. I had 75 pitches in three innings. I mean, that's definitely not how you want to go out and start a ballgame and try to get the momentum on your side ... It affects the team. It definitely affects the momentum of the game. I'm trying to do my best and go out there and get quick outs, quality pitches, and I don't think I executed that many good pitches. I think it affected the team from the first inning on."

He added, "I don't really have much more to say other than I don't think I did my job. I came out of there with zero earned runs, but I don't feel good about the start at all."

19: Days between strikeouts for Pavano, who last punched out a batter on April 24 against Cleveland prior to fanning Corey Patterson in the second inning on Friday.

12: Home runs for Blue Jays slugger Bautista, who took Nathan deep in the top of the ninth inning after a 10-pitch at-bat.

6: The number of times Harmon Killebrew led the league in home runs during his 22-year career.

Overheard

"He goes out and pitches his ass off in the first inning, but right away in the second inning, the first two guys up -- boom, boom. We've got a guy up there who can't hit breaking balls and we don't throw any -- they're all fastballs. I don't know who to talk to about that one ... Can we afford to keep putting him out there for a second inning? I don't know. That's two times in a row that he's just falling apart. And here we are talking about the pitchers and we only gave up two runs."
-- Gardenhire, talking about right-hander Alex Burnett, who pitched out of a jam in the fifth inning, but created a jam in the sixth.

Health report

• OF Delmon Young (ribs) returned to the lineup for the first time since April 18, going 1-for-4 with a single and a strikeout.

• C Joe Mauer (weakness/soreness) took batting practice with the team prior to Friday's game. "He's been here," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He's working. He comes out and does early BP off the tee and everything. I honestly just went with him today and said 'What's your plan today?' I said, 'What I'd like to see you do is maybe go out and take some throws today at second like you normally do.' I think the one thing he needs to do is start getting in a baseball routine again. I know he's doing all of his work in there, he's in there five and six hours a day alone doing all that rehab stuff, but baseball activities are important, and that's taking BP, being around the guys, doing their work on the field, and I want him to get involved in that to get his mindset (ready) that it's time to get back on the field and stuff when he's healthy."

• INF Tsuyoshi Nishioka (broken leg) continues to take batting practice, do agility drills, and play catch down in Florida. He had an X-ray on Thursday that showed "continued healing," according to head athletic trainer Rick McWane. The bone is not 100% healed yet, "but it's good enough healing."

• OF Jason Repko (quad) continues to take batting practice and do defensive drills "with no problems." He will play in an extended spring game on Saturday.

• DH Jim Thome (oblique/back) continues to take batting practice down in Florida.

On deck

The series continues on Saturday (3:10 p.m., 1500 ESPN) when right-hander Nick Blackburn (2-4, 3.95) opposes left-hander Jo-Jo Reyes (0-3, 5.00).

Blackburn has allowed only two earned run in his last two starts combined -- a span of 13 innings -- but he has also walked seven over that stretch. In fact, Blackburn has walked 11 in his last three starts, but he's also inducing 51% groundballs for the season, which matches his career-high mark from last season.

Reyes, a former Brave, has never faced any of the current Twins hitters. In seven starts this season, he has lasted fewer than four innings three times, and the Blue Jays have won only two of the games Reyes has pitched.

Coming up

• Sunday: vs. Toronto, 1:10 p.m. LHP Brian Duensing (3-3, 3.32) vs. RHP Brandon Morrow (1-2, 4.71).
• Monday: @ Seattle, 9:10 p.m. LHP Francisco Liriano (2-4, 6.64) vs. RHP Felix Hernandez (4-3, 3.36).
• Tuesday: @ Seattle, 9:10 p.m. RHP Scott Baker (2-2, 3.71) vs. LHP Jason Vargas (2-2, 3.86).

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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