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Twins 6, White Sox 1: Kubel Homers, Liriano Escapes Trouble to Secure Series Victory in Chicago

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The silence you hear...is Lambeau Field US AT&T Blackberry New Comisky Park.

For as often as the Twins shot themselves in the foot on Wednesday, the White Sox topped it on Thursday. They came away with one fewer error than Minnesota the previous night, but they squandered more (and better) scoring opportunities.

Bottom of the 1st: After starting the game with two outs, Francisco Liriano got himself into trouble. Two singles, a walk and a hit-by-pitch (if I were Carlos Quentin, I'd seriously consider it was being done on purpose...even knowing it wasn't) led to a run before Liriano escaped.

Bottom of the 4th: A one-out double ended up with a runner being stranded on third, no runs.

Bottom of the 5th: A walk and back-to-back singles loaded the bases with nobody out. NOBODY OUT. Alex Rios grounded one back to Liriano, who picked up a force out at home. Paul Konerko and Quentin then went down swinging. No runs.

Bottom of the 6th: A single, double and ANOTHER hit-by-pitch (Gordon Beckham this time, Quentin simply flinched in empathy) loaded the bases with one out. Liriano induced a shallow pop-up into center before Matt Guerrier entered to get the final out of the inning. No runs. AGAIN.

Of course, the Twins gave Liriano leads to work with. Orlando Hudson's solo shot in the top of the first (his fifth of the year) put Minnesota up 1-0 before Chicago tied it in the bottom of the inning. Michael Cuddyer singled to lead off the second inning, stole second, took third on an errant throw and scored on Jim Thome's sac fly. Hudson scored on a balk in the third. So most of those big scoring chances for the Sox occurred while the Twins were leading 3-1.

And then, with the crowd a little pissed off but still very much in the game, came the top of the seventh.

Alexi Casilla, playing at short for J.J. Hardy, led off the inning by bouncing one off Omar Vizquel's glove at third base, pulling up at second for his fifth double of the year. Gavid Floyd pitched well for most of the night, sometimes making a mistake pitch and sometimes just being unlucky, but he bounced back here to strike out both Denard Span and Hudson. You can't fault him for walking Joe Mauer, either.

Unless you're Jason Kubel.

Kubel watched a fastball and fouled off one of Floyd's infamous curveballs before taking the next one deep. It was a curveball that brushed the outer half of the plate, but it landed over the center field fence. The three-run shot silenced the crowd, and the Minnesota bullpen shut the door to ensure a series victory.

This was a huge win for the Twins. It's not just about the series and it's not just about first place right now, it's about showing the White Sox that we can beat them in their house. We have six more to play against the South Siders before the end of the year, including three more at Target Field just around the corner and then three more in Chicago in the middle of September.

Well done, boys. Time for a nice, long home stand. Notes, studs and duds after the jump.

  • Last night I mentioned Floyd didn't like to throw his curve in two situations: on first pitch, and when he was behind. On first pitch, Floyd threw just two curves (6% overall), both to left-handed hitters (9% overall).
  • I also mentioned he doesn't like to use his changeup on first pitch. He threw two first pitch changeups to nine right-handed hitters.
  • Only 13 of Floyd's first pitch selections were fastballs.
  • Where Floyd struggled: turning two-strike counts into outs, turning hitter's counts into outs, no 1-2-3 innings, long pitch-counts per plate appearance and a .419 on-base average against.
  • Chicago was 1-for-7 on sliders in play against Liriano. Right-handers were 0-for-6.
  • As I also mentioned last night, Liriano doesn't like throwing changeups to lefties. He didn't throw one last night: 23 pitches to LHB, 18 fastballs and five sliders.
  • Liriano did very well working ahead and had a good number of whiffs, but what really got him through the game was keeping base runners from scoring.
  • Span, Hudson, Mauer, Kubel, Thome and Young all reached base multiple times last night.
  • The Twins were still just 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. The one hit...was Kubel's three-run homer.

Studs

Orlando Hudson: .213 WPA
Joe Mauer: .031 WPA
Jason Kubel: .034 WPA
Francisco Liriano: .150 WPA
Matt Guerrier: .140 WPA
Michael Cuddyer: .043 WPA
Jim Thome: .032 WPA

Duds

Danny Valencia: -.103 WPA