The loss to the Rays to open the road trip leaves the Twins with a 5-15 record on the road. This one was close the whole way, but they couldn't quite get enough to win. Michael Cuddyer tied the game in the sixth inning with a solo home run, but Evan Longoria homered off of Scott Baker in the bottom of the frame to put the Rays back up, 4-1.
In the eighth inning, Joe Mauer tripled to lead it off, Justin Morneau followed with a double, and Michael Cuddyer finished it up with a ball hit to third base. Longoria made a clean pick but threw it about 2/3 of the way to first base, where it bounced by Cuddyer and bounded into foul territory. Cuddyer advanced to second and Morneau scored easily.
Baker lasted only 5 2/3 innings and was victimized again by the home run ball--Longoria and Carl Crawford both went deep off of him. While he allowed seven hits and didn't walk anyone, he seemed to be laboring the entire night. He threw first-pitch strikes to just half of the 24 batters he faced, and went into 3-ball counts six times. Jesse Crain and Jose Mijares had even more trouble hitting the strike zone, as they threw 51.7% (15/29) and 33.3% (5/15), respectively, of their pitches for strikes. Three of Mijares' pitches were intentional balls, but that still puts him at only 41.7 %. Mijares also failed to cover first on a potential double play ball in the eighth inning that would have kept the deficit at 1 run.
That inability to throw strikes, two pitching changes, and a ton of pickoff throws combined to make the bottom half of the eighth inning excrutiating to watch in my first foray into MLB.TV. I was unable to watch the Twins-Red Sox games because I am apparently in the Red Sox local area, although I am 100% sure I do not get the local Red Sox channel at my house (and I have an extensive television package).
That aside, a few interesting things I found this week regarding the Twins:
==>Over at FanGraphs, R.J. Anderson looks at Francisco Liriano's start earlier this week. I thought it was odd to see him post 7 strikeouts against zero walks and give up 11 hits in just four innings, and Anderson backs that up with some facts.
These next two are courtesy of ESPN.com and the Elias Sports Bureau:
==>Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau have now homered in the same game 6 times this year, after having done so just 7 times previously in their careers. As of the beginning of this week, that number led the league for tandem home runs.
==>Mauer has 11 home runs this month, which is the most for a Twins player since Tom Brunansky did the same in 1984, and is the most in Minnesota Twins franchise history. [For full disclosure, I'm not sure about the second part, but I think I heard that on TV somewhere.]