Twins Finish Off Wild First Half

Liriano was a bright spot in the first half.

In our final edition of Twins Inside Pitch before the All-Star Break, Justin Morneau is carrying a 16-game hitting streak, the Twins finish off the first half with the best home record in baseball, Joe Mauer slips into a mini-slump right before the break, and much more.

The Twins go to the All-Star break having taken a step back to their poor early-season form on the road.

They went 2-4 on their first-half-concluding road trip to Kansas City and Texas, with losses in four of their past five games, including a rare defeat for ace Johan Santana on Sunday.

Still, with the way left-hander Francisco Liriano has pitched (10-1, 1.83) and the way young hitters such as catcher Joe Mauer (.378) and first baseman Justin Morneau (.300, 23 homers) have performed in the first half, the Twins go to the break with more optimism than pessimism.

After all, they've still won 22 of 28 games in the past month.

"Three weeks ago we were dead in the water," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Now we have a chance. Let's see what we can do with it."

REPLAY:
Johan Santana (9-5), one of the Twins' two All-Stars, started strong Sunday but gave up two-run homers in the sixth and seventh innings to lose 5-2 to the Rangers in the Twins' final game before the All-Star Game, Sunday at Ameriquest Field.

It was the first time in more than a year -- 40 starts, in fact -- that Santana gave up more than one homer in a game. It was the Twins' fourth loss in five games.

NOTES:

  • C Joe Mauer waited until the final weekend before the All-Star break to do something most hitters have done repeatedly this season: go hitless in back-to-back games. In fact, until Saturday, he hadn't had an 0-for-4 game since June 2 -- and then he had another Sunday. Mauer, who leads the majors in hitting at the break (.378), has lost 14 points off his batting average since missing games July 2 and July 4 and having a thorough medical examination because of severe abdominal pain. He has gone 3-for-18 since returning.

  • C Mike Redmond, a member of that 2003 Florida team that came from way back to make the playoffs and win the World Series, on the Twins' chances of overcoming a nine-game deficit in the wild-card standings to make the playoffs: "The wild card is going to come out of our division, I would think. It's right there for us. We know that we can play well. We proved that, and now it's just a matter of going out and doing it and getting on another roll."

  • 1B Justin Morneau, who was hitting .235 after going 1-for-5 on June 8, has raised his average 65 points in 27 games by going 39-for-104 (.375) with 12 homers and 35 RBIs. He takes a 16-game hitting streak into the break.

  • DH/OF Rondell White won't go to the team's rehab and rookie facility in Fort Myers, Fla., over the All-Star break after all. White, who is on a minor league rehab assignment with Triple-A Rochester as he tries to loosen a tight left shoulder, will stay with Rochester over the Triple-A break that coincides with the major league break and continue to work out. If he stays on track with his 20-day rehab assignment, he could be ready to be activated for the July 21-23 series at Cleveland.

  • The Twins go to the All-Star break as the home-road Jekyll-and-Hyde of baseball. They have the best home record in the majors at 30-10 but on Sunday dropped to 17-29 on the road -- third-worst in the American League.
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