Twins vs. White Sox – Game 1

09Apr10

Nam Y. Huh, Associated Press

Many Twins fans are excited to see if Francisco Liriano can bounce back from a horrible year last year and regain any semblance of his amazing 2006 season, so the opening game in the White Sox series had a little extra interest – especially with the Twins offense coming off a 10 run victory and series win in Anaheim.

Liriano ended up going 6 innings with 4 hits, 3 ERs, 5 BB, and 3 Ks. A modest debut, but the 5 walks were a bit troubling. You can see flashes of his potential – or former-self  – or whatever you want to call it – especially when his slider works. His fastball clocked in the mid-nineties, but his lack of control will have to improve if he ever wants to be the pitcher he was or can be. You can see his mechanics are all over the place, recoiling when he should follow through, and still maybe not trusting his stuff. He had a chance to put the 6th  inning away with the lead intact after a visit to the mount by pitching coach Rick Anderson. He threw several sliders, but then went away from the slider and Rios drilled a two RBI double. It wasn’t a particularly bad pitch, not a meatball, but having the benefit of being able to second guess, you think maybe sticking with the slider would have been a good idea. His pitch count was good. He seems close, but if he can’t throw more strikes… I guess I’m just hesitant in putting too much trust in Liriano. He has the talent to be the Twins ace in the hole, but he has to work to get there.

Missed opportunities seemed to highlight the game offensively for the Twins, blowing two bases-loaded opportunities. The first was in the first inning with the rotten base-running mistake by Orlando Hudson (maybe he hit his head harder then we thought last night) who got double-up and then again in the seventh after Morneau tied it up with a double down the line and Cuddyer was intentionally walked. Kubel and and the hot-hitting Young fell short and ended up leaving the bases juiced.

Then the game went to the bullpen. Impressive job by Guerrier and Duensing – managing to take the game to the 11th when Mauer pinch hit and got on base with a walk. Span moved him over with a bunt. Hudson got out and Hardy – slotted in the three hole – got his most clutch hit in his young Twins career – driving in Mauer for the lead and handing the game to Big Jon “The Committee” Rauch, for his third save opportunity.

Rauch came in for his third save in as many opportunities, but it wasn’t pretty. We can thank the Twins defense for that one. Mauer threw out Rios in a stolen base attempt after a base hit and Span made a great play on a shallow line drive to center for the third out. Rauch gave up two hits, and almost a third. If it weren’t for Mauer throwing out the runner and Spans nice play… who knows? All that matters is the win.

Hardy comes through as my pick for player of the game with a couple of hits and a great play up the middle in the 9th, but Span’s catch gets the defensive play of the game. That makes 4 in a row on the road against two pretty good baseball teams. Exciting start to the season.

Anyone else watch the first non-9pm game?

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