video thumbnail

MIN@SEA: Cuddyer opens the scoring with a single

SEATTLE -- At long last, the Twins' nine-game losing streak is over, and perhaps it's fitting it ended an emotional day for the team after the death of Hall of Famer and Twins legend Harmon Killebrew on Tuesday.

It came on a night when left-hander Francisco Liriano returned to form, striking out nine and walking just one over seven quality innings to help lead the Twins to a 2-1 win over the Mariners at Safeco Field.

With Killebrew's death weighing heavy on their minds and in their hearts, the Twins simply managed to scrape out a win against last year's American League Cy Young Award winner, Felix Hernandez.

"It's nice to get out there and shake hands," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "There was a lot going on today and it was a very emotional day before the game and after the game. So it was a nice win. We needed a win, and on this day it's probably more special."

The victory helped Minnesota avoid enduring a 10-game losing streak for the first time since going 10 games without a win from Sept. 9-18, 1998. But more importantly, the club was able to honor Killebrew with a much-needed win.

"It's nice because obviously we wanted to use these three hours to get our minds off the tragedy, even though you can't," said Michael Cuddyer, the longest tenured Twins player on the roster. "It's impossible. But we wanted to go out and get a win, and there was no better time than today."

The Twins struck for their two runs in the first inning, when Denard Span and Jason Kubel both drew walks, before Cuddyer drove home a pair with a two-out single. Cuddyer's single came on the first pitch he saw from Hernandez, which was a belt-high fastball that caught too much of the plate.

"I'm not trying to stay around and work an at-bat against him because he's too nasty," Cuddyer said. "I just wanted to see a pitch I could handle, and it just so happened it was the first pitch and it was up in the zone and I was able to get a barrel on it."

It was all the offense Minnesota could muster against Hernandez, who surrendered just three hits to go along with three walks and nine strikeouts over eight innings.

"It was a pretty good outing for me, but if you give up two runs against Liriano, you have to keep working hard to keep your team in the game," Hernandez said. "That's what I did, but Liriano was pretty good."

Liriano was more than pretty good, as he dominated the Mariners for seven frames, as he allowed only three hits and tied a season-low one walk in his second start since throwing a no-hitter against the White Sox on May 3.

"The thing about Frankie is that if he goes out there and throws strikes he's just as dominant as Felix Hernandez," Cuddyer said. "It's just a matter of him going out there and not walking guys. And tonight he didn't walk guys, and that's what he can do."

It marked the sixth career start for Liriano, 27, against his good friend Hernandez, 25, and he again came up victorious to improve to 4-2 against him.

"I like to compete, so anytime I go up there against a guy like that, I try to do my best to keep zeros on the board," Liriano said. "So tonight, everything was working for me pretty good."

Seattle scored its lone run in the fifth inning, when Brendan Ryan was hit by a pitch with two outs and scored after back-to-back singles from Michael Saunders and Ichiro Suzuki. But Liriano was able to get of the jam with runners on the corners by striking out Chone Figgins to end the frame.

Liriano struck out Figgins with a changeup, but said it was his slider that was most effective, as he mixed in 38 of them as well as 21 changeups and 51 fastballs, according to MLB.com's Pitch FX data.

"Before I wasn't using my slider that much, but now I'm using it more like before," said Liriano, who threw 110 pitches, with 72 going for strikes. "But at the same time, it's all about location."

Relievers Glen Perkins and Matt Capps combined to shut down the Mariners over the final two innings to preserve the win for the Twins.

Capps appeared to get a generous call on a fielder's choice at second base for the second out of the ninth inning -- that saw Mariners manager Eric Wedge get tossed -- but replays showed Miguel Olivo slid into Alexi Casilla's foot and was out on a close play. Adam Kennedy then grounded out on the first pitch he saw from Capps to end the game.

"The bullpen was super," Gardenhire said. "Perkins really threw it and Capps got his guys out there in the end."

MLB.com Comments