Game 68: Twins at Pirates

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First Pitch: 6:05 pm CST
TV: FSN
Radio: 1500 ESPN
Know Thine Enemy: Bucs Dugout

We've got a lot of questions to answer in tonight's game. Can the Twins take the series from the red-hot Pirates? Will Joe Mauer return tonight? (No, not to the starting lineup.) Can anybody slow down the Bucs' Andrew McCutchen? Can we go this entire game thread without making "Had a Farm" jokes about Pittsburgh starter James McDonald? (We've never been able to do so with former Indians, Tigers, and Blue Jays utility infielder John McDonald, who has played the last couple of years with Arizona, E-I-E-I-O.)

Probable Starters


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2012 - James McDonald 5-3 14 13 0 0 0 0 81.1 56 23 21 4 24 78 2.32 .98

It's probably too bad that McDonald toils in Pittsburgh, because otherwise I think we'd be hearing a lot about him. He's almost struck more guys out than he has allowed baserunners (78 Ks, 80 runners, in 81 innings.) The Pirates have contrived to lose five of his thirteen starts by virtue of scoring a combined total of three runs in those starts; McDonald's last two losses were in 2-0 and 1-0 games. He's struggled with his control a little in June - his last start, he threw only 54 strikes in 101 pitches - so he'll be looking to get ahead in the count tonight.

He'll throw a fastball in the 92-93 range, including a sinking fastball that has a little more movement on it than his stock fastball. He also throws a slider and a changeup, but uses both sparingly, preferring to depend on a curve as his out pitch. When you see the curve, you'll see why; it's a big ol' classic 12-6 bender that's very good at making hitters look stupid.


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2012 - Liam Hendriks 0-3 5 5 0 0 0 0 23.0 38 23 20 8 5 14 7.83 1.87

There above is the disappointing stat line of Aussie hurler Liam Hendriks. He got bombed twice near the start of the season, but picked himself up and dominated at Rochester after getting sent to Triple-A. The Twins noticed, brought him back up... and he responded by giving up three home runs to the Brewers over the weekend and losing his third game of the year.

Hendriks is an interesting case to me, because he's still just 23 and is on a lot of Top-10 Twins prospect lists. That said, almost nobody projects him as a top-of-the-rotation kind of guy, he doesn't have great stuff, and mostly he just needs to show the team that he can provide a steady performance.

Lineups

For the Twins:

  1. Denard Span cf
  2. Ben Revere rf
  3. Josh Willingham lf
  4. Justin Morneau 1b
  5. Trevor Plouffe 3b
  6. Ryan Doumit c
  7. Brian Dozier ss
  8. Alexi Casilla 2b
  9. Liam Hendriks p

Near as I can tell, Liam Hendriks has not ever held a bat in a game in the Northern Hemisphere.

For the Bucs:

  1. Alex Presley lf
  2. Neil Walker 2b
  3. Andrew McCutchen cf
  4. Garrett Jones rf
  5. Casey McGehee 1b
  6. Pedro Alvarez 3b
  7. Rod Barajas c
  8. Josh Harrison ss
  9. James McDonald p
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