Francisco Liriano struggled to pitch five innings and the Twins middle relief predictably let the Tribe run away with the game Wednesday night at Progressive Field.
Liriano had good stuff, but he couldn't find the strike zone often enough to get the job done. He threw only 54 strikes of the 94 pitches through five innings. Most of his wildness happened early. He gave up two runs in the second fuelded by two walks. When he started throwing a lot of strikes, the Indians adjusted, swinging at the first pitch and hitting a lot of bleeders through the infield to score two more runs in the fifth.
I thought Liriano should have stayed out there for another inning considering he was mostly unlucky to give up the third and fourth runs and he had seemed to find his groove. Instead Manager Ron Gardenhire put R.A. Dickey in to pitch the sixth and he gave up two hits an a walk without getting anybody out. Bobby Keppel replaced him and was almost as bad, letting in all the inherited runners and one of his own before getting out of the inning. Poor middle relief forced Gardy to go to hs short relievers for the seventh and eighth. Both Jose Mijares and Matt Guerrier were excellent--strking out the sides--but it was too little too late.
As bad as the Twins pitchers were, Indians starter Aaron Laffey was excellent. He threw a lollypop curve that would start at the lefties and break over the plate. When he consistently got that pitch over, Twins hitters couldn't tell what was coming. Both Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel took fastballs down the middle for strike three with runners on. Those were the key at bats where Laffey put out fires started by Orlando Cabrera, who went 3-4 with a double.
In the end, it was a laugher for Laffey (sorry, I'm genetically determined to tell bad puns). The only positive is it perhaps reinforced the call for the front office to do something, anything to improve the Twins middle relief corps.
Aaron Laffey: He pitched brilliantly.
Grady Sizemore: Seems to be finding his stroke again after an off year for him: 3-5 with a double, two runs scored and two RBI
Asdrubal Cabrera: He is good: 3-3 with a double two RBIs and
R.A. Dickey: He couldn't get the knuckler over. News flash: His fastball is BP.
Bobby Keppel: Sorry Bobby, you're done. Thanks for the effort.
Nick Punto: No really, I don't just automatically put his name here. It just seems like it. 0-3 with another K looking on a FB down the middle.