Inside Pitch: Lohse Finally Gets A Win

Lohse snapped a five-game losing streak.

In this edition of Twins' Inside Pitch, Kyle Lohse snaps his personal five-game losing streak, Michael Cuddyer gives his thoughts on the Twins' chances to make the playoffs, Matt Guerrier extends his scoreless streak to 18 1/3 innings, Joe Mays' season continues to spiral downward, and much more.

Even before the Twins finished a sweep of the first-place Chicago White Sox on Wednesday, 3B/OF Michael Cuddyer pointed to the value of winning the series in Chicago and did some projecting.

'If we can go out and win every series from here on out -- and we're not incapable of that -- we can put ourselves in a good situation," he said.

The Twins have won three of their past four series -- all the wins coming against division leaders -- and six of seven games going into a seven-game homestand that opens Thursday night against Seattle.

Just during the four-game winning streak they take into the homestand the Twins cut an eight-game deficit in the wild-card standings in half. And what if they were able to pull off Cuddyer's optimistic math problem?

The Twins have 13 series left, including three four-gamers. If they won the minimum number of games required to win each of those series, that would be a 29-13 finish, giving them a final record of 92-70.

That would match last season's record and be a two-game improvement over their 2003 record -- and almost certainly put them into wild-card contention in last September.

"Sometimes it's not good enough when you get this far behind," Gardenhire said of winning series. "But that's what we're trying to do. If we can get on a run and win a lot of games in a row, you can catch anybody."

NOTES, QUOTES

  • The Twins' own playoff hopes might be face down on the pavement, but they've shown anything the last two weeks, it's that they've perfected the spoiler role.

    When they outlasted the White Sox for a 16-inning victory Tuesday, they clinched their third series victory over a first-place team in less than two weeks.

    In just their last four series, they've beaten AL East-leading Boston two out of three, knocked AL West-leading Oakland out of first by winning two of three and swept the White Sox.

    "We're still chasing them, though," Gardenhire said. "You've got to keep winning them and get where you're not chasing them anymore."

    It was the Twins' first winning road trip (6-3) since a 4-2 trip through Cleveland and Toronto in May.

  • Even if things keep going south for the Twins in the next week or two, they probably won't recall top pitching prospect RHP Scott Baker until rosters expand in September, team officials indicate.

    Baker, who is expected to be in the Twins' starting rotation next season, would get some starts at that point, manager Ron Gardenhire said, but whether that means a regular slot in the rotation hasn't been determined.

    Short of injury, the Twins would have to drop a pitcher from the rotation to make room for Baker, which could put veteran RHP Joe Mays (0-5, 8.31, since his last victory, July 3) on the hot seat his final three starts of the month.

    LHP Francisco Liriano (7-1, 1.46 in 10 starts at Triple-A Rochester), also one of the Twins' top two prospects, might get his major league debut in September, possibly out of the bullpen.

  • The Twins improved to 12-5 in extra innings with their victory on Tuesday, giving them the most extra-inning games and most such victories in the majors.

    The Twins on Tuesday won a game in their final at-bat for the 21st time this season, another major league high.

  • RHP Brad Radke walked Chicago SS Juan Uribe in the seventh inning Tuesday, his first walk surrendered to a White Sox batter since Aug. 19, 2002 -- a walk-less streak spanning 12 starts, 83 innings and 345 plate appearances.

  • The 5-hour, 9-minute elapsed time Tuesday represented the longest game time for the Twins since May 7, 1995, when a 17-inning game against Cleveland took 6:36.

  • LF Shannon Stewart left the game Tuesday after singling home the go-ahead run in the 16th inning because of an aggravated groin injury. He didn't play Wednesday.

  • RHP Matt Guerrier pitched four scoreless innings from the eighth through the 11th innings Tuesday to extend his scoreless streak to 18 1/3 innings, spanning 14 appearances. He has lowered his earned run average from 3.90 to 2.49.

  • RF Jacque Jones avoided the disabled list, but he missed this week's series against division-rival Chicago, returning to the lineup no sooner than Thursday against Seattle, manager Ron Gardenhire said. Jones hasn't played since straining an oblique muscle on the lower right side of his rib cage swinging during Wednesday's game. He improved enough by Sunday to keep him off the DL, but he was still a little sore during batting practice Monday in Chicago.

  • RHP Kyle Lohse (8-11) snapped a personal five-game losing streak, earning his first victory since July 2, when he survived 5 1/3 "gut-check" innings for a 4-2 win over the White Sox. It was his first game at U.S. Cellular field since Aug. 20, 2002.

  • SS Nick Punto's three stolen bases Monday were the most for a Twin since May 15, 2001, when SS Cristian Guzman did it.

  • LHP Terry Mulholland was unavailable after irritating his back throwing on the side Friday.

  • The Twins recalled IF Brent Abernathy from Triple-A Rochester to replace injured SS Juan Castro, and Abernathy joined the team in Oakland on Sunday. Abernathy was hitting .326 at Rochester.

  • RHP Joe Mays is going the opposite direction from LHP Johan Santana, spiraling in the second half. Since his last victory on July 3, Mays is 0-5 with an 8.31 ERA in seven starts. "It's turned a so-so season into horse manure," he said.

  • The right knee injury that put Twins starter RHP Carlos Silva on the disabled list in April flared up during Sunday's start, eventually contributing to his exit after seven innings. But Silva is expected to make his next start on schedule. Silva said he felt tightness, but has typically experienced some of that this season, especially in day games, and didn't appear to think it was serious. He has a slight meniscus tear in the knee that is expected to be surgically repaired after the season.

  • OF Mike Ryan snapped a 0-for-27 streak with a third-inning home run Sunday. It was the Twins' only hit the first eight innings against Oakland RHP Rich Harden.

  • The Twins improved their record in one-run games to 24-24 Sunday, matching their one-run victory total for the entire 2004 season (they were 24-16 last year).

    BY THE NUMBERS: 8 -- Consecutive winless road series for the Twins until beating the red-hot Oakland A's two of three over the weekend in Oakland. Their previous series win was June 7-9 at Arizona.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "Two win two out of three here and score only five runs in the series -- that's pretty good." -- Manager Ron Gardenhire, after the Twins slowed down the hottest team in baseball, winning two of three at Oakland despite being outscored 6-5 in the series -- winning a 1-0 game Friday and 2-1 Sunday after being one-hit through eight.

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