Inside Pitch: Ortiz Praises Twins Pitching

Liriano and Santana make a special 1-2 combo.

In this edition of Twins Inside Pitch, Boston slugger David Ortiz praises the Twins pitching staff, the Twins say goodbye to Tony Batista, Jason Bartlett is finally called up from Triple-A Rochester, and so much more.

So why don't the Twins have a winning record? After a game that left most of the Red Sox shaking their heads in disbelief over what they saw from Johan Santana, Boston's David Ortiz, a former Twin, shook his head longer than most, trying to shake the double vision he saw.

"Somebody's got to talk to Minnesota and find out where they get all their pitching," said Ortiz, who raved as much about Santana's protege, rookie Francisco Liriano, as he did the 2004 Cy Young Award winner after Santana and the Twins beat Boston 5-2 in 12 innings Tuesday night.

Ortiz spent three years as Santana's teammate with the Twins, watching the left-hander's rise from an extended apprenticeship in the Twins' bullpen to become one of the elite starters in the game.

Then this spring, he spent two weeks as Liriano's teammate with the Dominican Republic team in the World Baseball Classic and sounded even more impressed.

"Check it out," he said turning to a few Boston writers to give the scouting report on Liriano that those in Minnesota know first-hand. "He threw a 98-mile-per-hour fastball. He threw a 92-mile-per-hour slider. And he threw a changeup 80 miles per hour."

He added something unprintable and then paused to give somebody besides the Red Sox a chance to shake their heads at the Twins' pitching riches.

"In the WBC, he looked like Randy Johnson four years back."

So what does that make Santana?

"Santana and Liriano, you don't want to see them in the first two games of a series," Ortiz said. "If you see they're going the first day days, you start thinking about the last game."

Jason Kubel hit a grand slam with one out in the bottom of the 12th inning to lift the Twins to a 5-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox in the first of a three-game series at the Metrodome.

Johan Santana didn't get a decision, but he dominated in an eight-inning start in which he recorded a season-high-tying 13 strikeouts and allowed just one run on a solo home run in the top of the seventh by Boston's Jason Varitek.


  • LHP Johan Santana struck out the first five batters he faced Tuesday night and retired the first seven -- running his streak of consecutive batters retired to 26, one short of a perfect game, over two starts.

  • LHP Johan Santana's eighth strikeout Tuesday night was the 1,000th of his career. He joined five other Twins pitchers to reach that mark since the franchise moved from Washington, D.C. in 1961: RHP Bert Blyleven, LHP Jim Kaat, RHP Brad Radke, RHP Jim Perry and LHP Frank Viola.

  • OF Jason Kubel's grand slam in the 12th inning Tuesday was the first of his career. It was also the first home run from a Twins DH this season (not counting a pinch-hit homer from the DH spot early in the season). The Twins became the last team in the AL to collect a homer from the DH -- after four National League teams turned the trick in interleague play.

  • 3B Tony Batista (.236-5-21) was released after Tuesday's game, following a disappointing two-month start after being signed to a one-year, $1.25 million free agent contract over the winter to help boost the lowest-scoring lineup in the AL last year.

  • SS Jason Bartlett, who was hitting .307 at Triple-A Rochester, was recalled from the minors to take released 3B Tony Batista's spot on the roster. Some in the organization still consider him the team's shortstop of the future, and he's expected to supplant SS Juan Castro as the starter.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 6 Home runs allowed by rookie Boof Bonser in his third and fourth starts (12 innings), after allowing one in his first two since being recalled from the minors.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're like family. Your brother makes a mistake and what happens? You're upset with him for a minute and at the same time you forgive him. That's what it's like in here. We all make mistakes all the time." -- CF Torii Hunter, on patching the relationship in the clubhouse between RHP Kyle Lohse and teammates who were angered by comments Lohse made after coming off the mound in his most recent start for the team.

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