Mauer returns, Twins continue to seesaw


by Jean Gabler | 5/4/09 • The Twins were just alternating between a good series and a frustrating series before; now they seem to be alternating between good and bad every other game. Last time I wrote, the Twins were taking a day off after two frustrating losses to Boston. They went into Cleveland and took two out of three. Blackburn and Slowey got wins in the first two games. Perkins pitched the third game and struggled for the first time this year. His 1-2 record coming into the game didn’t really tell the story of his hot start to the season with little run support. The Twins lost and missed their first sweep of the Indians at home in almost 20 years.

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The Twins then came home for three games against the Tampa Bay Rays and three games against the Royals. The first game against the Rays was a 1-7 yawner. The second game was much more exciting. Liriano pitched 6 2/3 innings and allowed only two runs. Nathan came in for the ninth inning and the fans relaxed, expecting that sure win. Instead Nathan gave up the tie-scoring home run on the first pitch of the inning. He struggled but was able to get out of the inning with the score still tied and Liriano still looking for his first win of the season. As befits this seesaw season, the Twins rallied in the bottom of the 9th with Morneau driving in the winning run on a walk-off fielder’s choice. He hit a hard grounder to the second baseman who tried to turn the double play but could not beat the not-so-speedy but determined Morneau to first base. The Twins took the series with an 8-3 win on Wednesday behind a stellar pitching performance from Blackburn.

All this, of course, was done with faint notice from the media—who were focused on the announced return of Joe Mauer on Friday night against Kansas City, currently in first place in the Central Division. And Mauer delivered a storybook return: he homered in his first at bat and followed with a double. He then walked in his third appearance and, as if scripted, scored on a Morneau homerun, reuniting the M and M boys and taking the Twins to victory against the Royals. On Saturday Mauer delivered again, going 4 for 6. Unfortunately the Twins ended up losing, after an error by Casilla in the 8th allowed KC to score and take the lead. In true seesaw fashion, the Twins came back and tied the game in the bottom of the 8th and Nathan and Guerrier held them scoreless in the 9th and 10th. Then Gardenhire put Breslow in to pitch the 10th inning and the game was over. Breslow loaded the bases and Dickey came in and allowed three runs to score. Dickey was told to stay away from his knuckleball since Mauer had not had a chance to catch him at all during spring training. I do wonder why Gardenhire didn’t bring Morales in. I know he was concerned with the fact that Morales is not a defensive catcher, but taking away Dickey’s signature pitch was maybe not the best decision. Sunday Mauer did not play, Baker threw six no-hit innings, came on in the seventh and gave up five hits in a row. The Twins ended up losing the game, and Baker went to 0 and 4 for the season. The seesaw continues…