Twins Split Doubleheader Against Orioles: Liriano Falters, Baker Sparkles

The Minnesota Twins (20-11) split a day night doubleheader yesterday against the Baltimore Orioles (9-22), losing 7-3 in Game 1 and winning 6-1 in the nightcap. The story of the day was the starting pitching. In the opener, the Orioles tagged April AL Pitcher of the Month Francisco Liriano with his first loss of the season. Liriano wasn't really hit hard, but he was hit often, nine singles and a double in six innings. You can usually tell if Liriano's got his good stuff if he's striking out batters and getting a bunch of groundball outs when opponents put the ball in play. Yesterday, he gave up 9 fly balls against 5 ground balls, and he only struck out three batters in the six innings (one walk was good though). In the end, this resulted in five runs allowed during the third and fourth innings and the Twins were on their way to a 7-3 loss. In the nightcap, Scott Baker dominated the Orioles, pitching eight innings of 3-hit baseball, striking out 8 and walking none. His only blemish of the night was a solo home run by Luke Scott in the fifth inning.

Offensively, the Twins started well as Justin Morneau hit his first Target Field home run, a two run shot to right, in the first inning of the opener. But after the first it was another frustrating day against Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie as the Twins left 11 runners on base in the loss. The second game saw Joe Mauer's return as a pinch hitter with the bases loaded in the eighth inning. And the universe was temporarily turned on its head as Mauer struck out and Drew Butera bailed him out with a two run single to put the 5th and 6th runs on the board.

Studs and duds after the jump.

Game 1:

Studs

  1. Justin Morneau: 1-4, HR, 2 RBI. Contributed +0.78 runs offensively.
  2. Orlando Hudson: 3-4, R, 3B. Contributed +0.77 runs.
  3. Michael Cuddyer: 1-4, HR. +0.28 runs.

Duds

  1. Francisco Liriano: 6 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 3 SO. He wasn't on top of his game, but he didn't give up any homers and walks were not a problem.
  2. Denard Span: 0-4, SO. Contributed -0.96 runs.
  3. Brendan Harris: 0-4, SO. -0.90 runs.
  4. Jim Thome: 0-3, BB, SO. -0.63 runs.

Game 2:

Studs

  1. Scott Baker: 8 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 8 SO. He pitched a gem when the Twins needed him to come up big and end a two game skid against the Orioles.
  2. Delmon Young: 3-4, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 2B. Contributed +1.94 runs (+0.35 running). Delmon's batting average is now up to .280 on the year.
  3. Jim Thome: 2-3, BB. +1.30 runs (-0.12 running).
  4. Drew Butera: 1-4, 2 RBI. +0.81 runs. Have to give Drew credit for the clutch two out single after Mauer struck out.

Duds

  1. Denard Span: 0-4, -0.83 runs. Not a good doubleheader for Span, combined -1.79 runs.
  2. Alexi Casilla: 0-3, -0.83 runs. Why do I get a feeling we may see three catchers for a while, Bill Smith may be getting closer to releasing Casilla if he fails to at least show something. 
  3. Joe Mauer: 0-1, SO. -0.74 runs. I hate to do this on a day where Mauer makes his return, but striking out with one out and the bases loaded really hurts from a run scoring perspective.
  4. Michael Cuddyer: 1-4, R, 4 LOB. -0.54 runs. 

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