Cuddyer Walks Off, But Rotation Struggles

Cuddyer's blast won the game on Wednesday.

In this edition of Twins' Inside Pitch, Michael Cuddyer hits the Twins' first pinch-hit walkoff home run since 2001, the starting rotation continues to struggle, Rondell White gets benched, and so much more.

The Twins are almost three complete turns through their starting rotation, but the projected strength of the team remains its Achilles' heel.

One night after Carlos Silva was allowed to pitch 8 2/3 innings despite giving up eight runs on 12 hits, Kyle Lohse gave up the same number of runs in just 3 1/3 innings.

The Twins came back to beat the Angels in Lohse's start, but it took a 12-run game to do it. Meanwhile, the combined ERA of a group that had a 3.93 ERA last year jumped to a major league-worst 7.05.

Twins officials continue to suggest they're not worried and they expect a turnaround from a 14-game start to the season that includes just two quality starts.

Meanwhile, if Lohse -- who produced by far the best spring performance among the team's pitchers -- continues to get hammered the way he has in two of his three starts (also allowing eight runs in 4 1/3 innings in one start), Francisco Liriano looms nearby in the bullpen, poised to step into the rotation.

And if the Twins start looking at Liriano for Lohse's spot, that would mean Lohse goes straight to the bullpen and straight onto the trading block.

REPLAY: Michael Cuddyer finished a comeback from a five-run deficit with a pinch-hit, walk-off, two-run homer with one out in the bottom of the 10th inning, and the Twins beat the Angels 12-10 Wednesday. Cuddyer's homer came off former teammate J.C. Romero, and it evened the three-game series at one game apiece.

Lew Ford drew a two-out, bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the ninth to force extra innings, setting the stage for the Twins to even their season record at 7-7 by improving to 6-2 on a nine-game homestand that concludes with an afternoon game against the Angels on Thursday.

NOTES, QUOTES:

  • DH Rondell White, mired in a 5-for-51 slump to start the season, was benched Wednesday, one day after being dropped from cleanup hitter to seventh in the batting order. Manager Ron Gardenhire said the move had more to do with getting others playing time than benching a struggling hitter. "Honestly, the hardest part of the decision was taking him out. I think he needs to get in there and keep swinging," Gardenhire said.

  • OF Ruben Sierra made his Twins debut Wednesday, batting cleanup in DH Rondell White's role and contributing a double and a run in an extra-inning victory. Sierra, 40, joined the team Tuesday after spending an extra two weeks in Florida completing his recovery from a quadriceps pull.

  • LHP Dennys Reyes, the last pitcher cut in spring training, threw six scoreless innings in his most recent start at Triple-A Rochester and has impressed Twins officials in his efforts to improve at holding runners -- the one thing the staff told him he needed to do when he was sent out. Despite starting at Triple-A, Reyes is still considered primarily a situational lefty reliever for the Twins. But GM Terry Ryan says, "He's put himself in a good position because if we go down with an injury, he could come up here as a starter or a reliever."

  • The Twins have trailed in all 14 games this season.

  • CF Torii Hunter, who leads the team with 12 RBIs, ended a 0-for-13 slump with a seventh-inning homer Wednesday. He finished the game 2-for-4.

  • OF Michael Cuddyer's walk-off home run in the 10th inning Wednesday night against the Angels was the Twins' first pinch-hit, walk-off shot since INF/OF Denny Hocking did it against the same team on Sept. 2, 2001.
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