In this edition of Live From Rochester, the Wings earn a much needed series split with the…
Inside Pitch: Baker To Be Skipped
With efforts such as Francisco Liriano's 10-strikeout performance Sunday as well as the hot pitching of Johan Santana and Brad Radke, the Twins have surged into contention over the past six-plus weeks.But as consistent as those three have been, so have the results at the end of the rotation -- consistently bad, that is.Right-hander Scott Baker (3-6, 6.27) is in his second try as the team's fifth starter after flunking to the minors earlier this year. He followed a good outing with a stinker Saturday at Cleveland, an 11-0 loss. And right-hander Carlos Silva (5-9, 6.91), who was so terrible the first six weeks of the season he wound up in the bullpen, returned to the rotation successfully in June only to take a wrong turn over his past four starts -- failing to pitch even five innings in three of them.If the Twins are going to contend, they'll need at least one starter to step up and join the top three in contributing.One options at this point is demoted rookie right-hander Boof Bonser. Veteran right-hander Kyle Lohse, a fixture in the rotation since the end of 2001, has fallen out of favor so significantly with the field staff this year since his demotion to the minors (and banishment to the bullpen following a recall) that manager Ron Gardenhire has made it clear he doesn't consider Lohse an option to start. It's more likely Lohse will be dumped in a trade for a prospect.That would make the Twins' next option right-hander Matt Garza, last year's first-round draft choice, who has dominated most competition this year as he has jumped from advanced Class A to Double-A to Triple-A. He's 1-1 with a 3.46 ERA in two starts for Triple-A Rochester."We all know he's there," Gardenhire said. "I haven't even thrown that one at (GM Terry Ryan) yet. He really hasn't had many starts at Triple-A this year, but he's throwing the ball very well."REPLAY: Left-hander Francisco Liriano (12-2) lasted only five innings but struck out 10 in a dominant 3-1 victory in Cleveland on Sunday, giving the Twins a series win and their ninth win overall in 10 games.Liriano moved into a tie for the major league lead in victories, lowered his major league-leading ERA to 1.93 and boosted his season strikeout total to 125, tied for fourth in the league.NOTES, QUOTES:3B Nick Punto didn't play Saturday but picked up where he left off Sunday, going 2-for-5 to extend his career-high hitting streak to 15 games. That's the longest active streak in the majors.RHP Pat Neshek, the side-arming rookie reliever who was recalled from Triple-A this month, has yet to allow a run in five appearances in the big leagues, including a 1 2/3-inning scoreless outing Sunday. In fact, since allowing a hit to the first batter he faced, he has faced 24 batters without allowing a hit, giving up just two walks along the way and striking out nine.Five Twins pitchers combined to strike out 17 in Sunday's victory over the Indians, tying a club record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game.The Twins have made up six games on the front-running White Sox in the AL wild-card race since the All-Star break, climbing to three games back as they open a three-game series at Chicago on Monday. It will be the teams' first meeting since they split a four-game series at the Metrodome May 12-15.RHP Scott Baker (3-6, 6.27), the losing pitcher in Saturday's 11-0 loss at Cleveland, is to be skipped in the rotation next time around, putting the Twins' top three pitchers in line to start each game of a three-game home series against first-place Detroit this weekend. Baker's normal day to start would have been Thursday, an off day on the Twins' schedule.2B Luis Castillo's 0-for-4 game Saturday snapped his season-high 15-game hitting streak.
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