Twins Daily: Solid support from bullpen helps stop slide at 6 games
MINNEAPOLIS -- One night after getting shellacked by 15 runs, the Minnesota Twins rebounded and snapped a six-game losing streak. The bullpen provided four solid innings of support, helping to ease the damage of a rough start by Brian Duensing and allow Luke Hughes' two-run homer to hold up in Tuesday's 6-4 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Held to only 4 hits in the first game of the three-game series, the Twins' bats finally came to life, slamming Dodgers starter Ted Lilly for nine hits and six earned runs in 4 2/3 innings.
"I thought we were very aggressive early in the game running the bases, and we scored some runs by being aggressive on the basepaths, which is a lot of fun to watch," manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Duensing coasted through the first three innings but faltered in the fourth and fifth, surrendering four runs and allowing the Dodgers back into the game.
"First few innings I felt good. Then, all of a sudden, I don't know what happened," Duensing said. "I just kind of lost it for a couple of innings. ... I honestly felt like I didn't know where the ball would go. Fortunately, the bullpen was huge tonight. We don't win without them."
Holding on to a two-run lead, thanks to Hughes' home run in the fifth, the Twins bullpen did the rest of the work -- although Matt Capps made things interesting in the ninth, walking two batters before getting Casey Blake to ground into a game-ending forceout.
With Detroit's 14-3 loss to the Mets, the Twins now trail the Tigers by nine games for the division lead.
Any momentum the Twins gained with their quick start had completely shifted to the Dodgers after their three-run fifth. Lilly further deflated the crowd to start the bottom of the inning, getting two quick fly outs from Joe Mauer and Michael Cuddyer.
But the Twins snapped the momentum right back.
Danny Valencia stepped in and hit a soft line drive single on Lilly's second pitch changeup into left field, bringing Hughes to the plate.
Hughes entered with only one hit in his last 18 at-bats. After swinging through the first pitch, he worked the count to 2-1. Lilly came back with an 85 mph sinker, but Hughes was ready for it.
"(Lilly) had kind of gotten me out the first couple at-bats a certain way," Hughes said. "I had a little chat with (Morneau) before my third at-bat and had him point out a couple of things (about Lilly). He came in again -- I wish he had been coming in the whole night -- and I finally got the barrel out and hit one."
He slammed the pitch into the left field bleachers, giving the Twins a 6-4 lead and sending the capacity crowd into frenzy. It was Hughes' second home run of the season and first at Target Field.
19: Consecutive hitless at-bats for catcher Rene Rivera before an RBI single in the bottom of the fourth inning.
22: Leads the Twins have blown this season. That is only one fewer than the Florida Marlins and Chicago Cubs, who lead the majors with 23.
35 1/3: Innings between home runs for the Twins. Valencia went yard in the top of the sixth inning of Friday's night cap in Milwaukee and then the Twins failed to go deep until Hughes' shot in the fifth.
• LF Delmon Young (bruised right ankle) MRI results revealed no ligament damage in his injured ankle, only a bruise after Young crashed into the left field wall on Saturday in Milwaukee. "He has responded very well to treatment the past couple days," head trainer Rick McWane said. "He's full weight bearing and doing a lot in the training room and weight room, so we're really happy with the progress he's made in the last day." No timetable has been set for his return, but McWane said he expects Young to be ready to return to the line-up as soon as his stint on the 15-day DL is over.
• CF Denard Span (whiplash/concussion) slowly continues to make progress. McWane said Span responded well to an increased workload in the batting cage Tuesday. Span said he's anxious to see how his body responds to a short turnaround with Wednesday's day game.
• OF Jason Kubel (left foot sprain) made the first game appearance of his rehabiliation assignment with the Single-A Fort Myers Miracle on Tuesday night as a designated hitter, going 0-for-2 with three walks. He will stay with the Miracle through Thursday before continuing his rehab assignment at Double-A New Britain from Friday through Sunday.
• 1B Justin Morneau (neck) will undergo surgery on Wednesday. The Twins are targeting a late-August return for the slugger.
• RHP Kevin Slowey (abdominal strain) is scheduled to pitch three to four innings for the Miracle on Wednesday. The Twins plan to send him to Triple-A Rochester on Monday for a rehab stint, too.
"I'm trusting my fastball right now. That's nice. Before I was definitely throwing a lot of breaking balls and not working off my fastball. Today I was able to throw my heater and the times that I did go to a breaking ball it made them more effective. I think I only threw two breaking balls."
-- Twins reliever Joe Nathan, following his scoreless, two-strikeout appearance in a pressure-filled eighth inning. It was his second outing since coming off the disabled list last week and the first time in four appearances he hasn't surrendered a run.
On the hill for the Twins on Wednesday (12:10 p.m., 1500 ESPN) will be right-hander Scott Baker. In five starts this month, Baker (5-5, 3.39) is 3-2 with a 2.98 ERA and 31 strikeouts. Throwing no less than 96 pitches in each of his 15 starts this season, Baker has thrown at least six innings in each of his last six starts.
Making his eighth career major league start, 22-year-old rookie Rubby De La Rosa (3-2, 5.26) will take the mound as the Dodgers try to take two of three from the Twins. De La Rosa is 1-2 with a 7.47 ERA in his last three starts. The right-hander from the Dominican Republic relies on a blazing fastball that has reached 100 mph mixed in with a change-up and slider.
• Thursday: Off.
• Friday: vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 7:10 p.m. LHP Francisco Liriano (4-7, 4.98) vs. RHP Yovani Gallardo (9-4, 3.92).
• Saturday: vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 6:10 p.m. RHP Carl Pavano (5-6, 4.24) vs. LHP Chris Narveson (5-5, 4.42).
Dan Tracy contributed.