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Twins 3, White Sox 2: Pavano Goes the Distance to Beat Buehrle at His Own Game

This one was full of big moments.

It began auspiciously enough.  In what would be the one-on-one battle of the evening, Paul Konerko singled off Carl Pavano in the first to plate the game's first run and give Chicago a 1-0 lead.  It would be their only lead.

Minnesota answered in the bottom of the second, spanking Buehrle's off-speed pitches for four consecutive hits to lead off the inning.  Michael Cuddyer looked at back-to-back chageups on the outer half before going with the third for a ground rule double down the right field line.  Buehrle then attacked Delmon Young with breaking ball after breaking ball, everything coming in on his hands.  On what would have been ball three, Young went out of the zone to fight off a slider into shallow left-center and score Cuddyer from second.

Buehrle tried two more sliders against Jason Kubel, with the second bouncing off the center field wall for a triple.  Kubel missed his 12th home run of the season by about 14 inches.  Three pitches later, another Buehrle slider was bouncing off the fence in left-center as Danny Valencia just missed his first Major League home run.  Instead, Valencia's third double put the Twins up 3-1.

Chicago would score the game's final run in the fourth inning, in Konerko versus Pavano round two.  Konerko got two fastballs before he waited on Pavano's changeup, up and in, driving it over the left field fence.

The next few innings were a blur.  Both Pavano and Buehrle sent hitters down with abandon, neither offense building a threat.  Buehrle picked off Young (after picking off Denard Span earlier in the game); Drew Butera threw out Juan Pierre trying to steal; Pavano waived off his infielders and Ron Gardenhire after Omar Vizquel smashed a ball into Pavano's left wrist area.  As quickly as Buehrle worked, and has always worked, Pavano matched him pitch-for-pitch, barely giving the hitters a chance to breath before setting for the next pitch.  Somewhere in those quick innings, Pavano struck out Konerko in round three of their one-on-one, retiring the slugger for the first time in the game.

In the top of the ninth, Pavano proved himself for the umpteenth time this season by snuffing out the final White Sox rally.  With one out and Vizquel on third, Pavano went low-and-away with a changeup for swinging strike one.  A high fastball was fouled off for strike two.  And once more low-and-away, this time with a big curveball, Konerko went down on strikes for the second time in a row.  A simple groundout would end it, but it was the strikeout that seemed to be the deciding death blow.

Game notes, pitcher analysis and hi-fives after the jump.

  • Michael Cuddyer and Delmon Young continue to be the team's hot hitters, each picking up a pair of hits.  Cuddyer is now hitting .269 and has raised his OPS by 36 points over the last three weeks.  Young drove in his team-leading 60th run, and is on pace to top his career-high 93 that he set in '07 with the Rays.
  • Butera's throw to nail Pierre was a thing of beauty.
  • Nobody took a walk.
  • Pavano converted every situation where he was behind in the count into an out.
  • While some of Pavano's balls in play were hard-hit, they didn't amount to much.  Inside Edge grades pitchers in 23 categories after a game...and Pavano received an A+ in 17 of them.
  • We talked in the pre-game about how Pavano likes to work ahead, and then make you take cuts on offerings you maybe shouldn't.  Today he graded out exceptionally well in this category, except in situations where 1-1 counts become 1-2 counts.  Here, he received an F.
  • Pavano's now won his last six decisions, and has 11 wins this year...which is two more than he had from '05 to '08 with the Yankees.

MVP and a Hi-5:  Pavstache
MVP in a losing effort:  Paul Konerko
Wes Mantooth to Pavano's Ron Burgandy:  Mark Buehrle
Deserves to start more often:  Danny Valencia
I'm here, for some reason:  Jeff Manship
Keep hitting me fifth:  Delmon Young

  • In his last 10 starts, Pavano is 7-1 with a 2.95 ERA while allowing less than a base runner per inning.