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Phoenix -- The Diamondbacks capped off their seven game homestand with a 3-2 victory over the visiting Minnesota Twins in front of a crowd of 31,017.
With the three game sweep of their AL Central foes, Arizona (23-23) finished off their impressive homestand with a 6-1 record. Winners of six straight, the Diamondbacks reached .500 for the first time since April 20, when Arizona was 8-8.
Through 4 1/2 innings, starting pitchers Francisco Liriano and Daniel Hudson dominated. With one out in the bottom of the fourth, Juan Miranda torched a home run to deep right-center field, breaking the stalemate and giving the Arizona Diamondbacks a 1-0 lead over the Minnesota Twins.
Later in the inning, Daniel Hudson aided his own cause with a two-out, off-the-knob single to right field that scored Xavier Nady and put Arizona up 2-0.
Liriano labored all afternoon, throwing a lot of balls to the patient Diamondbacks offense. Through four innings, Liriano threw 75 pitches to Hudson's 50.
Hudson ran into some difficulties in the top of the fifth, giving up a single to Delmon Young and a double to Rene Rivera. After Alexi Casilla struck out, Liriano drove in a run with a groundout to second.
Hudson escaped without further damage by coaxing Ben Revere into an inning-ending groundout to third base.
Young evened the score at 2-2 in the seventh inning, tagging a 1-1 fastball into the left field bleachers. Denard Span, pinch-hitting for Liriano, flied out to Nady, and the inning was over after Henry Blanco gunned down Casilla's steal attempt at second base.
Liriano was lifted after six innings, striking out four and walking four. He did not factor into the decision.
Willie Bloomquist made quick work of the Twins bullpen, hitting a solid double and making it to third base on a fielding error by Revere.
Roberts stepped up to the plate and hit a towering fly ball to center, which was bobbled then caught by Revere. Bloomquist tagged up and allowed the Diamondbacks to retake the lead at 3-2 in the bottom of the seventh.
Hudson finished the night after eight strong innings, giving up eight hits and striking out six Twins. With the victory, Hudson evens his record at 5-5 and improves his ERA to 3.82.
J.J. Putz successfully shut the door on the Twins, closing out the game and the homestand.
Minnesota (15-30) became the second team in the majors to reach 30 losses on the season, behind only the Houston Astros (17-30). The Twins have the worst record in Major League Baseball.
Arizona has an off day on Monday, and they're going to need it: Tuesday brings a day/night doubleheader in Denver against the Colorado Rockies. The day game is a makeup game for the April 3 rainout (though it was technically snow). The Diamondbacks will play 14 consecutive games without a day off starting Tuesday.
The Diamondbacks rallied off of Minnesota closer Matt Capps in front of a crowd of 39,776 on Saturday. Capps gave up a grand slam to struggling second baseman Kelly Roberts, which capped off a five run inning for the home team.
The big crowd was a combination of several things: first of all, there was a highly publicized garden gnome giveaway, and there is also a decent population of Midwestern transplants in the Phoenix area that cheer for the Twins. Finally, with the Diamondbacks playing well, the locals are starting to make their way out to the ballpark.
Arizona sends Daniel Hudson to the mound, while Minnesota counters with Francisco Liriano. Hudson is 4-5 on the season with a 4.03 ERA, but he has been consistent all year long. Liriano is more unpredictable: despite a 3-5 record and a 6.13 ERA, Liriano already has a no-hitter on his resume in 2011.
Here's the Diamondbacks starting lineup for Sunday, May 22, 2011:
The Arizona Diamondbacks maintained their recent hot streak with a 9-6 victory over the Minnesota Twins Saturday night. The Diamondbacks have now pushed their win streak to five games, which is the team's longest win streak in two seasons.
The Diamondbacks and Twins traded blows all night, as the Twins took the early lead on a second inning score before the Diamondbacks evened the game in the fourth inning. The Twins put up another run in the fifth inning before both squads scored two runs in the sixth.
At the end of the seventh inning, the Twins led 4-3. The Diamondbacks, however, put up an impressive six-score eighth inning to steal the game. The inning was highlighted by a grand slam by Kelly Johnson, who has been struggling all season and played big at just the right time to secure the win.
The Diamondbacks will go for the three-game sweep of the Twins on Sunday before beginning a four-game road series against the Colorado Rockies.
No way the Diamondbacks want the supposed judgment day to come now. They're like Charlie Sheen - winning.
The Diamondbacks gave a crowd of 27,450 some fireworks before the actual postgame fireworks show, getting a home run from Stephen Drew, a big bases-loaded double from Ryan Roberts and a combined six hits and four RBI from Miguel Montero, Xavier Nady and Kelly Johnson, all in support of winning pitcher Ian Kennedy in their 8-7 win Friday.
Arizona won its fourth straight and sixth of the past seven games, but almost coughed up a pair of four-run leads. Minnesota trailed 8-4 going into the ninth inning and scored two runs off relievers Juan Gutierrez plus one off the typically reliable David Hernandez.
In the inning, Danny Valencia homered off Gutierrez followed by a Delmon Young single, and on came Hernandez, who had a 1.74 ERA and has been one of the most effective setup men in the game. Hernandez had an off night., giving up an RBI double and three straight walks.
With J.J. Putz unavailable for rest purposes, manager Kirk Gibson turned to Joe Paterson. All the rookie did was strike out slugger Jason Kubel and force former AL MVP Justin Morneau to ground into the defensive shift on the right side. Paterson got to first to cover for the long throw from Kelly Johnson to retire Morneau with the bases loaded, and Chase Field went wild.
Safe to say these moments of pulsating excitement and winning in the end have been pretty rare for the D-backs in recent years. When the crowd rose to its feet with two out in the ninth, it was a sign that this team is beginning to capture folks' attention and make the ballpark worth coming to.
"Fun game there. Standing on the railing with the bases loaded with one out and Minnesota's pressuring us, you say 'This is fun here.' It's a good feeling, it really is. That's why we do it."
Paterson earned his first career save and set the franchise record for most consecutive appearances without being scored on, 19.
"JoePa came in and picked him (Hernandez) up," Gibson said. "We got out of it."
The Diamondbacks had 11 hits and are 12-3 when they collect 10 or more hits in a game this season. They were also 6-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
"I really didn't think it was fair to the guys," Gibson said about his three-man rotation at first base with Branyan, Juan Miranda and Nady. "It was tough on our team. Russ has worked hard, he was in more of pinch-hit role and in the end we just felt we're going to move forward with one and we'll give Russell his release."
Ian Kennedy picked up the win to improve to 5-1. He lasted 7 2/3 innings and allowed four runs on six hits. His fourth straight win is a single-season career high.
The Arizona Diamondbacks open interleague play with the Minnesota Twins. It's not as exciting about having the Yankees in town or even the Red Sox. But there are plenty of transplants from the mid-west in Phoenix who will enjoy this series.
The D-backs have won four of their last five and improved 20-23 which is impressive, but until this team can play at least .450 ball on the road if they want to be taken seriously. Of course, the goal for this season wasn't ever to compete. The goal is to develop young players and change the culture.
The Twins haven't had a good start to the season. They are 15-27 but have won their last three games. The Twins are 140-106 in interleague play while the D-backs are 22 games under .500 against the American League.
Game time is 6:40 p.m. and will be broadcast on Fox Sports Arizona with the live game thread at AZ Snake Pit.
Series Preview #16: Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Minnesota Twins - AZ Snake Pit
Last October, the Minnesota Twins were clearly a team on the rise. They were coming off a 94-win season, they had just opened a beautiful ballpark and they had re-signed franchise catcher and Minnesota native Joe Mauer to play there for the next eight years.
Their rotation was anchored by one of the best young pitchers in baseball in Francisco Liriano, who had actually gotten unlucky in 2010, with a 3.62 ERA despite an FIP that was almost a run lower (2.66). Sure, they had lost to the Yankees in the playoffs, but there's no shame in that. With the return of star closer Joe Nathan and a little bit of luck, the Twins looked poised to be even better in 2011 than they had been the year before. Then, somebody--Nick Punto, probably--divided by zero and the whole thing went straight to Hell.