Swept in Arizona and some weekend notes

Today the Twins were swept by the Arizona Diamondbacks to cap off a week long West Coast road trip.  The Twins have now fallen to 14 1/2 games back in the AL Central.  On Friday and Saturday, Twins pitchers blew leads in the late innings. On Sunday, the offense never gave the pitchers a lead. 

Francisco Liriano gave the Twins six solid innings on the mound.  He also had a RBI single in the fifth that cut the Diamondbacks’ lead to 2-1.  Delmon Young also launched his first home run of the season into the left field seats to tie the game up.  But Willie Bloomquist led off the bottom half with a double into the left-center field gap against reliever Alex Burnett.  Revere then bobbled the ball which allowed Bloomquist to reach third and eventually score on Roberts’ flyout to center.  That was all the Diamondbacks needed to finish off the three game sweep.

After the game, Ron Gardenhire said that Jim Thome and Jason Repko will be activated tomorrow and be available to play in the series opener against the Mariners.  Ben Revere and Luke Hughes will be sent down to AAA Rochester to make room for Thome and Repko.  All though I am more a fan of Revere being the backup outfielder, it will be good for him to go back to the minors and plenty of plate appearances.

Gardenhire also said that catcher Joe Mauer will play in an extended Spring Training game either Monday or Tuesday.  There is still no time table for Mauer’s return, the Twins don’t want to rush him back and risk him injuring himself but it needs to be sooner rather than later.  Current Twins catcher Drew Butera went 0-for-4 on Saturday and lowered his average to .083 (2-for-24) since May 8 and .110 for the season.

Gardenhire said before the game that the Twins have talked with starting pitcher Kevin Slowey about a demotion to AAA that would allow for him to start.  Slowey has been injured much of the season and pitching out of the bullpen does not seem to be working.  This also could be the Twins showcasing Slowey to other teams and possibly pull the trigger on a trade around the All-Star break.

Glen Perkins has been one of the great surprises on 2011 and one of the bright spots in a bad bullpen.  Perkins Saturday strained his right oblique during the game and will be lost for 3 weeks to a month.  This is definitely a blow to the bullpen, hopefully Joe Nathan will start coming around soon and will be ready to take back the closers job from Matt Capps or at least take over set up duties full time.

One positive note over the past week has been starting pitcher Fransisco Liriano.  Liriano had a terrible start (1-4, 9.13 ERA, 18 strikeouts, 18 walks in April).  He has pitched much better as of late and seems to be turning the corner.  Liriano has allowed only seven earned runs over 25 innings (2.52 ERA) in four starts, striking out 16 and walking 14.  The big thing for Liriano will be to cut down on the walks.

Starting Monday the Twins face the Seattle Mariners at Target Field.  The Mariners come into the series winning 5 games in a row.  They have climbed to within 1 1/2 games of division leader Texas in the AL West.  Here are the pitching matchups:

  • Tuesday:  7:10 p.m. RHP Nick Blackburn (3-4, 3.40) vs. RHP Doug Fister (2-4, 2.93).
  • Wednesday: 12:10 p.m. LHP Brian Duensing (2-4, 4.98) vs. LHP Erik Bedard (2-4, 3.94).