LIVE › 1-2 p.m. This Week in High School Sports
NEXT › 2:05 p.m. SportsCenter Saturday
Updated: May 16th, 2011 11:56pm
Twins Daily: Seattle rookie hurls inept offense to 9th straight defeat

Twins Daily: Seattle rookie hurls inept offense to 9th straight defeat

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
Email | Twitter
SportsWire Daily

Get the 1500 ESPN SportsWire delivered to your inbox daily, and keep up with all the news in Twin Cities Sports

Signup!

Michael Pineda was as good as advertised, and the Minnesota Twins remained just as bad. The hard-throwing rookie hurled seven shutout innings on Monday as the struggling Seattle Mariners cruised 5-2, sending the Twins to their ninth consecutive loss.

The skinny

Even against baseball's worst offense, Pineda's performance was something to behold. The 22-year-old right-hander allowed three hits -- all with two outs -- and struck out seven over seven innings, lowering his earned-run average to 2.45 through eight big-league starts.

Three of those strikeouts came against Delmon Young, whose 1-for-16 scuffles since his return from the disabled list encapsulate the continued descent of the Twins offense. Both of their runs were courtesy of two Seattle errors in the ninth inning, giving them 23 runs during the losing streak and 121 this season, by far the lowest total in baseball.

Twins right-hander Scott Baker gave up four runs on seven hits, including a pair of homers, and struck out eight before departing after 108 pitches (71 strikes) and six innings.

Jack Cust's RBI double over Jason Kubel's head put the Mariners (17-23) -- who had lost six straight -- ahead for good in the first inning, and Justin Smoak drove in another run with a double into the right-field corner in the third.

Turning point

Trailing 2-0, the Twins (12-26) loaded the bases in the top of the sixth on a Luis Rodriguez throwing error, a Kubel single and a wayward slider that hit Justin Morneau in the left foot.

After a visit from Mariners pitching coach Carl Willis, the former Twin, Pineda got ahead of Michael Cuddyer with a fastball and then left an 0-1 slider over the plate that Cuddyer ripped up the middle. But the ball caught a piece of Pineda and ricocheted to second baseman Adam Kennedy, who flipped to Rodriguez for the third out.

Kennedy and Carlos Peguero hit back-to-back home runs in the bottom half of the inning, and the Twins didn't have another base runner until the ninth, when a bad-hop grounder led to an error by Kennedy and Chone Figgins threw Young's grounder into the outfield, gifting two runs to thwart the shutout bid.

Numbers game

78.9%: Percentage of players (15 of 19) with an at-bat for the Twins this season who entered Monday hitting .235 or worse.

11: Runs batted in for St. Louis in 23 games this season by Nick Punto, the former Twins infielder who didn't play until April 20 because of an abdominal tear.

10: Runs batted in for the Twins in 33 games this season by Justin Morneau, who ranks third on the team behind Jason Kubel (20) and Danny Valencia (18).

2: Newly added Twins pitchers, Phil Dumatrait and Anthony Swarzak, who ran into travel trouble and were late arriving to the ballpark.

2: Walks issued in 1 1/3 innings by Dumatrait in relief of Baker. One of them led to a run on Kennedy's sacrifice fly in the eighth.

1: Players designated for assignment. Catcher Steve Holm was waived to make room for Dumatrait on the 40-man roster.

Health watch

• 1B Justin Morneau did not travel with the team because he was having his sore back and neck checked out. But he arrived in time to start the game and had one of the Twins' four hits.

• C Joe Mauer (bilateral leg weakness) traveled to Fort Myers, Fla., to continue his rehabilitation.

• OF Jason Repko (strained right quad) was moved up to Class-AAA Rochester after playing in his first rehab game on Saturday in Florida.

• DH Jim Thome (minor back strain) was expected to play in a simulated game on Monday.

On deck

Seattle ace Felix Hernandez (4-3, 3.36 earned-run average) will be pitching on an extra day's rest for the first time this season in Tuesday's series finale (9:10 p.m., 1500 ESPN). In his sixth full big-league season and still only 25 years old, the Venezuelan right-hander has a 2.69 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 70 1/3 innings over 11 career starts against the Twins.

The Twins will counter with left-hander Francisco Liriano (2-5, 7.07), whose start last Tuesday ended after three innings because of flulike symptoms. He has completed six innings only twice in seven outings, including his no-hitter on May 3 against the Chicago White Sox, and has more walks (27) than strikeouts (21). In 55 career innings against the Mariners, Liriano is 5-2 with a 2.78 ERA and 47 strikeouts.

Coming up

• Wednesday: at Oakland, 9:05 p.m. RHP Carl Pavano (2-4, 5.89) vs. RHP Brandon McCarthy (1-4, 3.34).
• Thursday: at Oakland, 2:35 p.m. RHP Nick Blackburn (2-4, 3.70) vs. RHP Tyson Ross (3-2, 2.50).
• Friday: at Arizona, 8:40 p.m. LHP Brian Duensing (2-3, 4.61) vs. TBD.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
2279