Liriano Leads All Relievers In Strikeouts
Liriano has struck out 32 batters this season.
Liriano has struck out 32 batters this season.

Posted May 15, 2006


In this edition of Twins Inside Pitch, Carlos Silva struggles to regain his sinker, the Twins lose one of their own in Jim Lemon, Mike Redmond continues to be a great fill-in for Joe Mauer, Francisco Liriano leads all Major League relievers with 32 strikeouts, and much more.

Right-hander Carlos Silva, the Twins' sinkerballer who was one of their most consistent starters the past two years, is going so poorly he leads the majors with gopher balls (15) instead of groundballs.

Unable to resolve a mechanical flaw that causes him to lean toward first on his follow-through -- consequently flattening his sinker into a batting-practice fastball -- Silva has essentially become a one-pitch pitcher, manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Until he can correct the flaw that's robbing him of his sinker, he has to find another breaking ball he can use effectively, Gardenhire said.

Silva (2-6) lasted just 3 1/3 innings in a 9-7 loss to the White Sox on Sunday, surrendering a 7-3 lead his team gave him with an explosive first inning against Chicago ace Mark Buehrle. The six earned runs he allowed bloated his ERA to a staff-worst 8.80.

"Don't ask me," said Silva when asked what has gone wrong with him this season. "I'm still looking for what's going on. Right now nothing's working for me."

And the three homers he allowed could have been worse, considering Torii Hunter brought one ball back into the park after Chicago's Jim Thome hit it over the center field wall in the first inning.

REPLAY: The Twins sent 12 men to the plate in the first inning for seven runs on seven hits and two errors to open a 7-3 lead against White Sox ace Mark Buehrle, but couldn't score again. Carlos Silva then gave it all back in a 9-7 loss at the Metrodome that snapped Minnesota's four-game winning streak.

Despite giving up 12 hits and two walks in a six-plus-innings start, Buehrle (4-2) became only the second pitcher in major league history to allow seven runs in the first inning and still earn the victory -- the first since right-hander Jack Powell of the St. Louis Cardinals on Sept. 29, 1900 (in a 10-7 win over the Chicago Orphans).

NOTES, QUOTES:

  • OF Jim Lemon, an original Twin and a former Twins hitting coach, died in his sleep Sunday morning at age 78. "You knew it was coming, but it still hit you hard," said longtime Twins clubhouse man Wayne Hattaway, who visited Lemon in Brandon, Miss., just last week and said they talked about baseball, including what was ailing the Twins' hitters. "You couldn't ask for a nicer guy." Lemon was a 1960 All-Star for the Washington Senators and an Opening Day starter the next year when the franchise opened its first season as the Twins. He hit 33 and 38 homers in 1959 and 1960, among 164 career homers, driving in 100 runs each of those seasons.

  • DH Rondell White had a more personal reason than most for using a pink bat in Sunday's game as part of a major league-wide Mother's Day promotion to raise awareness and support for breast cancer. Part of his decision was based on honoring the memory of a young friend from Montreal, Antony Carola, who died last month at age 14 after battling cancer for 10 years. White and his wife traveled to Montreal for the funeral April 24.

  • C Mike Redmond, C Joe Mauer's backup, batted as the No. 3 hitter in the Twins' order for the sixth time this season on Sunday and went 2 for 5 with a double and RBI. He's now 9 for 25 (.360) with five RBI as a No. 3 hitter this year -- 35 for 112 (.313) in his career.

  • LHP Francisco Liriano, the Twins' electric-stuff rookie reliever, leads all major league relief pitchers with 32 strikeouts (in 22 1/3 innings).

  • DH Rondell White's first-inning double extended his hitting streak to 10 games, during which he's hitting .308 (12 for 39).

  • When 2B Luis Castillo bunted into a triple play in the sixth inning Sunday, it marked the first time the Twins had hit into a triple play since Sept. 8, 1996, against the California Angels.

  • LF Shannon Stewart singled twice in the Twins' seven-run first inning Sunday, the first Twin to record two hits in an inning since 1B Justin Morneau on July 21, 2004.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 0-3 -- The record of Johan Santana on April 21 of this season. He won his next four decisions.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's a handful, because he knows how to pitch. When he's on the mound, he changes the whole complexion of the game." -- White Sox slugger Jim Thome, on Johan Santana.


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