Home > Uncategorized > Duensing’s solid start wasted as Twins fall

Duensing’s solid start wasted as Twins fall

May 25, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS — In the early innings Wednesday, Twins lefty Brian Duensing struggled to get comfortable. Whether it was the cold or the wind, something was not quite right.

After he made a small adjustment with his “rocker step,” Duensing settled in nicely and delivered his best start since April 30. But the Twins’ offense couldn’t figure out Mariners lefty Erik Bedard as they lost, 3-0, Wednesday at Target Field.

Each of the first three hits Duensing allowed, along with a second-inning walk, came back to cost him in the end. After putting Franklin Gutierrez on to lead off the second, Adam Kennedy doubled and Brendan Ryan singled to put Seattle up, 2-0.

Two innings later, Gutierrez led off with a solo home run, his first of the season.

“There was only one that I’d want back, and that was the homer I gave up to Gutierrez, which was a changeup up,” Duensing said. “Other than that, I thought I threw the ball pretty well and walked a couple guys I didn’t really want to walk but at the same time made some good pitches when I needed to.”

Tossing seven innings while giving up three runs on four hits, Duensing kept Minnesota in the ballgame. It was the second consecutive outing of seven or more innings by a Twins starter, keeping the burden off the bullpen.

Duensing went seven innings for the first time in five outings this month after four of his five April starts went seven innings. The three runs he allowed were the fewest for Duensing since May 10.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was especially happy with the way the left-hander was able to finish by striking out Ichiro Suzuki with runners on the corners and two out.

“He wants to be out there, he needs to make a big pitch [and] he did,” Gardenhire said. “That last hitter is as good as they get in the league and it was a good matchup for us. We wanted him to get out of that inning without giving something up and he did.

“That’s important for him on down the road. He came out of it feeling pretty good about himself. Although he got a loss, he knew he found something out there on the mound and he finished that inning off, which was huge.”

But as much as Duensing kept them in the ballgame, the Twins could not get much going at the plate against Bedard, who pitched six shutout innings, scattering six hits with four strikeouts for the win.

At the plate, the Twins had at least one runner on base in each of the first five innings but could not bring any of them around to score. Overall, the Twins went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.

“[Bedard] was pretty filthy,” Gardenhire said. “Sometimes, you tip your hat to the other guy and Bedard’s one of those guys that we’ve had to do that before. He had great stuff today. One of those situations you could see guys swinging and missing balls by a foot, and that’s that breaking ball, that was diving down along with a 92-mph fastball.”

The Twins’ best chance to put runs on the board came in the fifth, when their Nos. 8 and 9 hitters, catcher Drew Butera and second baseman Alexi Casilla, led off with a pair of singles.

But those hits were followed by three consecutive outs from the top of the order.

“That fifth was a big inning,” Bedard said. “We were up, 3-0, and if I give up a hit there, the game gets closer. You just battle out there. Try to keep the ball down and get out of the inning.”

One of those outs looked like it could score a run, though, when Matt Tolbert flew out to right field for the second out of the inning. But with Butera on third and Ichiro’s strong arm in right, it was not deep enough to bring the Twins’ catcher home.

Gardenhire was not sure if Butera could have scored on the play, but said he would have have liked to see him try with the way Bedard was keeping the Twins hitters off balance throughout the game.

“It was kind of more of a respect thing for [Ichiro’s] arm,” Butera said. “I’m not a very fast runner, I know that, and he has probably one of the best arms in the game. And I felt at the time we had one of our hottest hitters coming up. I probably could’ve taken a chance, I probably should’ve taken a chance.”

The top five hitters in the Twins’ lineup combined to go 2-for-20 on the day, with two singles and four strikeouts. None of the Twins’ seven hits went for extra bases as they lost for the fifth time in six games.

With the Indians also losing Wednesday, the Twins remained 14 1/2 games out. While they’ve been playing better of late, the losses continue to come, making it tougher for the Twins to remain positive.

“You obviously pay attention because you want to win. That’s ultimately what this is about,” said designated hitter Jim Thome, who went 1-for-3 with a walk and a single. “It’s always about winning your division and trying to gain ground. Cleveland has played well, so give them credit. So I always look every day and see what Cleveland is doing because I want to gain ground on them.

“You want to try to do the best you can to gain ground but you can’t do it overnight. It takes a long process. … Baseball is a weird thing. I’ve seen crazy things happen.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: