Francisco Liriano has already outdueled Roger Clemens this year. This time, it was his turn to outpitch Scott Kazmir, one of the top young pitchers in the MLB., which he did in the Twins 8-1 victory.
Ok, so he should have had the CG shutout, and would have had Terry Tiffee not committed a 9th inning error (is it too early to ask for Erubiel Durazo to replace Tiffee?), but 8 2/3 innings giving up only 3 hits and 1 unearned run, well, that's also swell. Liriano had some control problems in his last start, but there were no such problems on this night, as Liriano walked 0 batters and struck out 7. His MLB-leading ERA dropped down to 1.94, which is pretty good. As Aaron Gleeman writes, he is now 10-2 with a 1.58 ERA since he joined the rotation. For a very thorough and interesting analysis of how both pitchers were in this game, check out Seth Speaks.
Offensively... well, I can live with 8 runs. Justin Morneau continues to impress, with his 25th HR of the year. He's just the 7th guy since 1987 to do that for the Twins. He's also up to 78 RBI. Joe Mauer is also officially back on track, as he went 2/4 Tuesday with a couple RBI. After a slight dip in the BA, it's now back to .376.
The other big offense surprise this year has been Nick Punto, who has surprisingly been superb for the Twins. He kickstarted things with a triple in the first inning, had a sac fly later, and also had a 2-run single. All in all, 2/3 Tuesday to up the average to .311 to go along with a good OBP and solid defense at 3rd. Yeah, I'll take that. I think most Twins have about the same feeling as Twins Without Spin... as in, this was hard to see coming.
The one recurring theme in this point is that the young guys continue to produce, which is the biggest reason the Twins are back in the playoff race with at least some chance. Now at 5 straight wins, their record stands at 52-40, 9.5 games behind Detroit and 6 games behind the White Sox.
Hey, you never know!