Interleague Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, June 21st
(All times Eastern)
Minnesota Twins (27-40) at Pittsburgh Pirates (35-32), 7:05 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Minnesota - Liam Hendriks (0-3, 7.83)
Pittsburgh - James McDonald (5-3, 2.32)
(Sports Network) - James McDonald has been let down by his offense on more
than one occasion this season. The Pittsburgh righty hopes that isn't the case
tonight when the Pirates conclude a three-game series with the Minnesota
McDonald has been a bit of a pleasant surprise for the Pirates this season,
going 5-3 with a 2.32 earned run average in 13 starts. He has given up just
five runs total in his three losses, but the Pirates have been shut out in
That was the case on Friday, when the 27-year-old lost for the first time in
four decisions. McDonald allowed one run on three hits and two walks over six
innings, but was on the wrong end of a 2-0 decision to suffer his first loss
since May 11. It also marked the eighth time in his past 11 outings he allowed
just one earned run.
"I'm going to build off those last two, two-and-a-half innings or so. I
finished the game pretty good," McDonald said.
McDonald, who faces the Twins for the first time, is 2-1 with a 1.75 ERA in
seven starts at home this season.
Getting the start for the Twins is 23-year-old Liam Hendriks, who is still in
search of the first victory of his MLB career and has never before faced the
Hendriks went 0-2 in four starts a season ago with a 6.17 ERA and is 0-3 with
a 7.83 ERA through five starts in 2012. He lasted just 2 1/3 frames versus the
Angels on May 2, giving up six runs and getting optioned to the minors five
The 23-year-old returned to the Twins to make the start last Saturday versus
the Brewers and was charged with five runs over five innings. Though just two
of those runs were earned, three of the eight hits he allowed were homers.
"Hendriks was behind the count quite a bit," said Minnesota manager Ron
Gardenhire. "It was one of those games where nothing really good happened."
The Pirates stretched their winning streak to three straight games by taking
Tuesday's opener, but were dealt a 2-1 setback last night.
Josh Willingham scored both of Minnesota's runs, coming home on Trevor
Plouffe's single in the first before launching a go-ahead solo homer in the
"Willingham has been so good for us this year," said Gardenhire. "He's the one
guy who has really been swinging all year. He can juice the baseball or he can
The Twins had lost five of six prior to the victory.
Rod Barajas drove in the lone run of the game for the Pirates, who sit 2 1/2
games behind the Reds for first place in the National League Central.
Both starters pitched well, but didn't factor into the decision. Francisco
Liriano went 6 2/3 innings for the Twins and gave up just one run on four hits
with two walks and six strikeouts while Erik Bedard had similar numbers over
six innings with a run on four hits, two walks and seven strikeouts for
"It was a good step forward, but I'm disappointed we didn't win," said Bedard.
"We tried our best and we'll get them tomorrow."
Twins catcher Joe Mauer did not start for a second straight game due to a
bruised right quadriceps suffered on Sunday, but he was available to pinch-
hit. Reliever Matt Capps, meanwhile, hasn't pitched since last Friday because
of a sore right shoulder but could be available either tonight or tomorrow.
Minnesota took two of three from the Pirates the last time these teams met
back in 2009.
06/21 10:27:25 ET