At last, Francisco Liriano had an effective start. You could argue that his first start was pretty good (he only gave up 4 hits in 7 innings, but did allow 4 runs), but this was definitely a good one. He lost it a little bit towards the end, as he allowed 7 of his 9 baserunners after the start of the fifth inning, but the overall line was very solid. I thought Ron Gardenhire made a good decision to take him out after allowing two consecutive singles in the seventh. Certainly, it was tempting to leave him out there to get those nice, even seven innings, and he only needed one more out, but it was the right decision. I wasn't sure about bringing Matt Guerrier in, but hey, it worked out. Jose Mijares followed that by striking out the side, which gave Joe Nathan a save opportunity (finally!). Unfortunately, he allowed a lead-off home run to Ben Zobrist, and then gave us a scare by allowing two more baserunners. Despite the game-tying homer, that would be the last frame the Twins would pitch.
Even though Liriano could no longer pick up the W, that didn't mean the Twins couldn't, as the offense wasted no time in getting that run back. Singles by Jose Morales and Denard Span and a pinch-walk by Brendan Harris loaded the bases with one out for Justin Morneau. Unsurprisingly, Morneau ended the game then and there, though not in the expected fashion. Facing a 5-man infield (how often do you see that?), Morneau beat out the relay throw to first on a potential double-play ball to allow the winning run to score. After starting the game with a two-run homer in the first, Morneau added a third RBI to his tally to avoid extra innings.
On a negative note, Jose Morales allowed another three stolen bases and yet again did not throw out any runners. This is an obvious con to him being on the roster instead of Mike Redmond (if, as I suggested, he goes on the DL at some point), in addition to his MLB-leading 4 passed balls (he's also second among catchers with 2 errors). At the Seth Speaks live game chat, there was a discussion about the possibility of keeping three catchers and sending down Carlos Gomez or Brian Buscher. Personally, at this point, I think that may be exactly what Gomez needs, but if the Twins were willing to do that, I would have thought they'd have done it last year. As Seth pointed out, if he stays there for five or six weeks, that would have the added benefit of pushing back the first year he'd be eligible for arbitration (and subsequently free agency).
With the victory, the Twins are now 4-0 in one-run games. They're the only team that has yet to lose such a game, while the Rockies are the only team that has yet to win one (they're 0-4). The Twins still sit in fourth place in the Central, but are just 1.5 games out of first here in the early-going.
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