Baker Headed Back To Rochester?

Baker may be headed back to Rochester.

In this edition of Twins Inside Pitch, Scott Baker appears headed to the minors, Jason Kubel snaps an 0-12 slide, Joe Mauer ties a career-high by hitting in nine straight games, Carlos Silva makes his return to the rotation, and much more.

Carlos Silva's restoration work on his sinker and psyche are done.

And so, it appears, are Scott Baker's days with the Twins, at least for the immediate future.

The combination makes Silva the projected starting pitcher for the Twins against the Oakland A's on Sunday, which would end Silva's two-week exile to the bullpen. He would replace Baker, whose ERA in May soared to 8.20 after another poor start Tuesday that figures to result in a demotion to Triple-A Rochester.

With a successful return to the rotation, Silva has the chance to pump life into the starting staff for the second time in two weeks. His move to the bullpen on May 15 opened a spot for top prospect Francisco Liriano, who might be the team's top starter since then.

As bad as Silva looked without an effective sinker through much of his eight starts this season (2-6, 8.80), he steadily improved while in the bullpen. He has given up just one run in five relief appearances, spanning seven innings, and has looked particularly impressive in his past two outings Saturday against Seattle and Monday night at Anaheim.

"When you see the ball on the ground like he's getting, that means he's there," said pitching coach Rick Anderson, referring in part to a scoreless inning Monday in which all three outs came on ground balls.

REPLAY: Scott Baker (2-5), who entered Tuesday's outing with the simple assignment of keeping his pitches down and the pace of the game up couldn't do either and likely earned a ticket back to the minors after failing to pitch out of the fifth inning in a 6-2 loss to the Angels.

Baker, who labored through four innings before unraveling in the fifth, was skipped in the rotation the last time through so he could work on keeping his breaking balls down in the strike zone. In nine starts since making the starting rotation out of spring, the near-rookie (he missed rookie status by a few innings) has a 6.10 ERA.

NOTES, QUOTES:

  • The day after RHP Kyle Lohse's agent said he hopes the Twins make a quick decision with Lohse to get him back to the majors, general manager Terry Ryan didn't rule out the possibility of Lohse pitching again for the Twins. "I'm not opposed to bringing him back up," Ryan said. "The manager's not opposed to bringing him back up. The door's open." Lohse was optioned to Triple-A Rochester two weeks ago after posting an 8.92 through eight starts.

  • Because doing it almost any other way would mean putting similar LHPs Johan Santana and Francisco Liriano back-to-back in the rotation, the Twins scrapped their plan, at least for the short term, to manipulate the rotation as necessary to assure veteran RHP Brad Radke pitches on his usual every-fifth-day cycle. The idea was to help create the best environment possible for Radke to find a groove as he fights out of the worst two-month start of his career. But scheduled off days the next two Mondays made that too problematic, so after pitching Saturday in Oakland, Radke moves back a day on his next turn, to June 9 at home against Baltimore.

  • C Joe Mauer tied his career high by hitting in his ninth straight game Tuesday, going 2-for-4 and raising his season batting average to .352, tied for first in the A.L.

  • The Twins suffered their third straight road loss Tuesday night, dropping to 7-19 on the road this season -- second-worst in the A.L. and third-worst in the majors.

  • Rookie LF Jason Kubel's sixth-inning home run Tuesday snapped a 0-for-12 skid.
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