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Updated: September 5th, 2011 9:47pm
Twins Daily: Stewart's one-hitter caps off bad day for Twins' offense

Twins Daily: Stewart's one-hitter caps off bad day for Twins' offense

by Nate Sandell
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Chicago White Sox rookie starter Zach Stewart came within six outs of a perfect game on Monday night as  as the Minnesota Twins' offense was kept at a standstill for both games of a day-night doubleheader at Target Field. Nearly shutout in the first game and held to one hit by Stewart a few hours later, the Twins fell 2-1 and 4-0 to the White Sox.

The skinny

One run off eights hits isn't going to win most games. As the Twins found out, it makes matters worse when it's a team's combined stat line in back-to-back games.

In only the eighth start of his major-league career, Stewart stormed through the Twins' lineup in order for seven innings in the second game of the doubleheader, getting eight of his nine strikeouts in that span. His bid with perfection ended only after Danny Valencia sent a fastball into right field for a double to start the eighth inning.

"He didn't have much stuff that was overpowering. He was just locating really well," Valencia said. "I knew he was eventually going to backdoor me with a hitter on the outside corner. He made a pretty good pitch, but I was able to get the barrel out there."

The hits were more plentiful for the Twins in Game 1, but runs were still almost nonexistent.

Facing a punchless lineup, the White Sox's Phil Humber went for seven scoreless innings, with the Twins able to scatter six of their seven hits off the right-hander. The home team's lone run didn't come until the ninth inning, during a failed last-minute rally.

Turning points

Slammed for six earned runs in his first start back in the rotation on Aug. 30, Anthony Swarzak followed with one of his better performances this season in Game 1.

Unfortunately for him, it came on a day where run support was at a premium. Before Swarzak settled in, the White Sox scrapped together one run in consecutive, which proved to be all they needed.

The second game brought similar results. Twins' starter Scott Diamond labored through five innings (eight hits and 90 pitches), but escaped with only two runs against him. 

"Diamond threw a lot of pitches early. He wasn't as sharp as he has been but he also limited damage," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He had a lot of people left out there on the bases when he made pitches when he had to."

However, with the Twins' offense failing to produce, the White Sox's two-run seventh inning put the game out-of-reach.

"We couldn't get anything offensively going at all," Gardenhire said. "The balls we did hit hard were at (Stewart) and they made some great plays behind him."

Twins' reliever Kyle Waldrop, who made his major-league debut, picked up two quick outs to start the seventh, but couldn't get out of the inning. Alexi Ramirez and Alex Rios both singled, and Tyler Flowers walked to load the bases. The next batter, Brent Morel, sent another single into center field, bringing in two runs.

Numbers game

25: Times in team history the Twins have been one-hit.

0-6: The Twins' record in doubleheader games this season.

6: Errors for shortstop Trevor Plouffe, who mishandled a grounder from Gordan Beckham in the sixth inning of Game 2.

1: Run allowed by reliever Matt Capps in his last eight appearances. He pitched the ninth inning of Game 1, striking two of the three batters he faced.

Overheard

"It was terrible. It's embarrassing really. We need to play better. We scored one run the whole day and you can't do that. It's frustrating. It's frustrating for the offense. It's frustrating for everybody. It's something we have to change. We have to have better at-bats."

-- Valencia addressing being swept in the doubleheader.

"It was a lot of fun. It was just one of those things. In the pen, the ball was coming out good. I could tell it was going to be somewhat of a good night. I didn't know it was going to be that good. But it just felt good from the beginning."

-- Stewart on the near-perfect game.

"I didn't feel like I had my best stuff today. I was having a tough time gripping the ball. I was really trying to feel it out there and work it down in the zone, and I didn't do the best job I could have, but I did what I could."

-- Diamond, talking about his fourth career start.

Health report

• OF Denard Span (migraine and concussion symptoms) has been working out at Target Field since Saturday, but he still feels "spaced out" off and on. Span hopes to return to action before the end of the season, but there are no guarantees.

• LHP Brian Duensing has been doing "pretty good" since straining his oblique over the weekend, according to head athletic trainer Rick McWane, and he will start with exercises this week.

• 1B Justin Morneau (mild concussion symptoms) worked out Monday morning, but there is no immediate plan for him to return to the lineup. When he does, it will likely be as a designated hitter.

• LHP Glen Perkins (forearm discomfort) played catch prior to Game 1 Monday, but he was unavailable to pitch until at least Tuesday.

• LHP Francisco Liriano (left shoulder strain) started throwing on Monday, but there's still a chance he could be shut down for the season.

• OF Jason Kubel sat out the second game with a sore foot, which Gardenhire said is "very sore." Kubel was available as a pinch-hitter.

• 2B Tsuyoshi Nishioka (sore back) pinch-ran for Brian Dinkelman in Game 1, but Gardenhire was told not to use him in the second game. "One of our trainers came up to me and said it would be better if we could just back him off and not use him as a runner or whatever late in the game," Gardenhire said. "So we gave him a full day from not swinging and not throwing and then we'll see how he does tomorrow."

• OF Michael Cuddyer also did not play in Game 2 as he continues to be hampered by pain in his left wrist.

On deck

Tuesday offers a glimpse into the Twins' future, as right-hander Liam Hendriks will make his major-league debut in the third game of the four-game series.

The 22-year-old Australia native, who has spent four seasons in the Twins' minor-league system, began the year at Double-A New Britain (8-2, 2.70) before starting his last nine games with Triple-A Rochester (4-4, 4.56).

The White Sox will counter with right-hander Jake Peavy (6-7, 5.21). After a nearly flawless outing against the Twins in early August - three hits in eight scoreless innings -- Peavy made it through five innings (six earned runs, eight hits) in his start last week against the division rival.

Coming up

• Wednesday: vs. White Sox, 7:10 p.m. Carl Pavano (7-11, 4.60) vs. LHP John Danks (6-10, 4.01)
• Thursday: Off day
• Friday: vs. Detroit, 6:05 p.m. Kevin Slowey (0-4, 5.31) vs. Brad Penny (9-10, 5.13)

Nate Sandell is a contributor to 1500ESPN.com.
Email Nate | @nsandell
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