Twins Daily: Valencia's 2-out single caps 5-run comeback over Brewers
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Danny Valencia's go-ahead RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning capped a five-run comeback for the Minnesota Twins, who with a 9-7 took two out of three from the Milwaukee Brewers.
One day after blowing a 7-0 lead, the Twins returned the favor to Zack Greinke and company, digging out of a 6-1 deficit.
With the Twins trailing 7-6 in the bottom of the seventh inning, it was Danny Valencia who delivered the decisive blow with a two-out, bases loaded single that scored three runs after left fielder Mark Kotsay allowed the ball to skip past him to the wall.
"I was hoping for it," Valencia said when asked about possibly being in position to hit in a big situation. "Those are situations everybody wants to come up in -- the situation where the game's on the line, everybody wants to be in that situation and come through. And luckily today, I was able to come in that situation and come through for the team."
Joe Nathan came on to pitch a clean eighth, and closer Matt Capps came in to avenge his meltdown from Saturday night. But after he put runners on first and second with only one out, manager Ron Gardenhire turned to lefty Glen Perkins to face Prince Fielder.
Perkins whiffed Fielder on three pitches, then struck out Casey McGehee to end the game.
"We kind of did what they did to us yesterday, score a bunch of unanswered runs," Valencia said. "And just to win this series alone is big. We could have had a sweep here, and two of three is good, but we've got to keep playing well."
Starting pitcher Nick Blackburn, who took the brunt of it in a 15-0 loss to the Dodgers last week, was touched up for a second consecutive start, allowing six earned runs on six hits and a walk in four innings.
A five-run inning in the fourth against Blackburn gave the Brewers a 6-1 lead, temporarily opening the flood gates. And when Greinke followed by retiring Joe Mauer and Michael Cuddyer to start the bottom half of the frame, there was no sense of an immediate counterpunch by the Twins offense.
But Jim Thome coaxed a two-out walk, and Valencia ripped a double to right-center field, putting runners on second and third for Rene Tosoni, who turned on a 93-mph fastball and deposited it into the upper deck in right field.
"It's a tough wall out there, so I wasn't sure if it was going to hit the wall or not," Tosoni said.
Putting those three runs up definitely helped us out. We were still down two runs, but it was still early in the game ... We didn't put our head down and let them beat us. We came back. It was fun."
The blast brought the Twins back within two runs and generated much-needed life in the stadium.
1.80: Perkins' ERA. He also has 32 strikeouts in 30 innings. "So far in my big league career this is the best I've pitched," Perkins said. "So it's easy to have confidence when you're going well."
8-for-13: Valencia's career numbers with the bases loaded, including 18 RBIs.
16-for-38: The Twins' numbers (.421) with runners in scoring position over the current game homestand.
595: Career home runs for Thome.
59: Career interleague home runs for Thome, which leads the majors.
1: All-Star representatives for the Twins.
• OF Denard Span (concussion) still feels symptoms one month after colliding with Royals catcher Brayan Pena. The initial hope was for Span to take batting practice before the end of the weekend, but that didn't happen, and there is currently no timetable for a rehab assignment.
• OF Jason Kubel (sprained foot) According to reports from the training staff, Kubel "can go straight ahead, but as far as cutting he's pretty sore that way," Gardenhire said in an interview with 1500 ESPN. "I know his foot was sore (Saturday), really sore. And he got out there and did some running around, but straight ahead's good, but any kind of turning is no good. So that doesn't sound great to me." Kubel will remain in Fort Myers and will continue to be evaluated daily.
• RHP Kevin Slowey (abdominal strain) is scheduled to start on Tuesday and throw 60 pitches for Triple-A Rochester.
• OF Delmon Young (sprained ankle) was scheduled to head to Rochester on Sunday to begin a weeklong Triple-A rehab stint.
With the Twins now finished with interleague play, they set their sights on a three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays, beginning with a Fourth of July matinee on Monday (1:10 p.m., 1500ESPN Twin Cities).
Taking the mound for the Twins is left-hander Brian Duensing (5-7, 4.69). whose last start came against the Dodgers where he went five innings, gave up four runs on four hits and struck out three. Duensing faced the Rays on April 17, going seven innings, giving up two hits, two runs and striking out five in a 4-2 Twins win. Rays hitters own a career .250/.333/.400 batting line against Duensing with ten hits in 40 at bats.
The Rays will counter with the former No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft, and one of the most dominating pitchers in baseball, lefty David Price (8-6, 3.43). Price's 8.85 strikeouts per nine innings rank second in the American League, behind teammate and Tuesday's probable starter, James Shields. Twins batters are hitting a collective .281/.378/.344 against Price, and Danny Valencia has fared exceptionally well against the left hander, tallying two walks and four hits in six plate appearances.
• Tuesday: vs. Tampa Bay, 7:10 p.m. RHP Scott Baker (6-5, 3.15) vs. RHP James Shields (8-5, 2.45).
• Wednesday: vs. Tampa Bay, 12:10 p.m. LHP Francisco Liriano (5-7, 4.76) vs. RHP Wade Davis (7-6, 4.20).
• Thursday: @ Chicago White Sox, 7:10 p.m. RHP Carl Pavano (5-6, 4.19) vs. RHP Philip Humber (8-4, 2.69).