Thursday afternoon's contest against the Athletics was discouraging for many involved.
Francisco Liriano failed to make it through the first inning yesterday, easily making it his worst start to date in his career with the Twins. Only 43% of his pitches were for strikes, and when you're struggling for command with your fastball there's not too much you're going to be able to do to be effective. He recorded two outs, allowing eight men to reach base; Liriano was charged with six runs.
After his night off, Carlos Gomez collected hits in his first two plate appearances on Thursday. Leading off in the top of the first, he gave the Twins a 1-0 lead when he hit his first home run of the season. Minnesota's only other run came off Brian Buscher, who knocked in Mike Redmond from second base following his double in the fifth.
With more than eight innings chewed up by four members of the bullpen, it's likely that only Guerrier, Neshek and Nathan will be available for Friday night's game. While Rincon and Reyes only threw 15 pitches apiece, in today's game that means they'll only be used if absolutely necessary.
It was a disturbing thing to watch, from the bottom of the first innings through the rest of the game. Francisco Liriano's immediate future with the Twins will likely be decided in the next 24 hours, when the Twins will decide whether to option him to Rochester to further develop his arm, or whether to give him one more shot at a start.
Span Optioned to Rochester; Cuddyer to Start Friday
Following the 11-2 defeat, the Twins sent Denard Span back to triple-A to make room for Michael Cuddyer's return on Friday. Span was 1-for-1 in relief of Jason Kubel yesterday, and Ron Gardenhire believes the outfielder needs to be with the big league club:
"I know he needs playing time, but I'd like to have him here and off my bench too," Gardenhire said. "Maybe that is something I can work out over the next couple weeks or so. I'd like to use him in the big leagues a bit more. I like having him here."
Span's appearances didn't shock anyone, and he didn't do too much to make you notice whether he was there or not. But by playing well in the field and limiting his mental mistakes, he's at the very least impressed his manager. Span averaged 3.97 pitches per plate appearance in his first brief stint with the Twins, and managed a .324 OBP.
On Friday night, Michael Cuddyer will make his first appearance since leaving the game on April 4. Reports on Cuddyer, and his hand, have been positive. It will be interesting to see if he favors it during his at-bats tonight.