Twins starter P.J. Walters celebrated with pitching coach Rick Anderson after pitching his first complete game in a 9-2 victory over the White Sox on Tuesday night in Chicago.
Charles Cherney, AP
TWINS 9, CHICAGO 2 UP NEXT: 7:10 TONIGHT AT CHICAGO U.S. CELLULAR FIELD TV: FSN (1500-AM)
Walters handcuffs White Sox with complete game win
- Article by: La VELLE E. NEAL III
- Star Tribune
- May 23, 2012 - 7:09 AM
CHICAGO - Twins starters have been injured and lost for the season, designated for assignment and demoted to the bullpen. And there have been serious concerns about how things could get better, given what they had to choose from within the organization.
Righthander P.J. Walters is doing what he can to allay those fears.
Walters, who had no chance at making the Twins rotation in spring training, is becoming their best starter. He pitched the Twins' first complete game of the season as they socked it to the White Sox 9-2 at U.S. Cellular Field.
Making just his third start since being called up from Class AAA Rochester, Walters held Chicago to two runs on five hits while throwing 110 pitches. He has gone at least six innings in each of his three starts. When he struck out Dayan Vicideo to open the eighth it marked the longest outing of any Twins starter this season.
"He made it easy," catcher Joe Mauer said. "He made me look smart."
Walters also made the bullpen look refreshed. The Twins have gone from having catcher Drew Butera pitch an inning Sunday to having a scheduled off-day Monday and an off-day handed to them Tuesday.
"The bullpen, they were walking and smiling as they came in," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "That's a good thing. We hadn't seen it much around here."
Chicago didn't have a hit between Paul Konerko's double in the first inning and a Konerko single in the seventh. The Twins turned three double plays and provided Walters more than enough offense as they improved to 5-1 on their current eight-game road trip. The Twins used a four-run second inning and five-run fourth to put the game away.
Denard Span and Ryan Doumit each had two hits, and Justin Morneau's three-run homer in the fourth was the big blow.
"We gave him a nice lead,'' Gardenhire said. "He did what a pitcher is supposed to do with it, run with it."
Walters, before every start, draws the initials AFW in the dirt on the back of the mound. He had a daughter, Annabelle Faith Walters, who was born 14 weeks premature on Feb. 10, 2010 and lived for 51 days in a Moblie, Ala., hospital before passing away because of complications from a heart condition. Walters was in training camp with the Cardinals at the time and draws the initials in memory of her.
"I carry her everywhere,'' he said.
Walters on Tuesday had success with his changeup early in the game, but his curveball improved in the later innings, giving him two key pitches.
Walters ended up striking out the side in the eighth inning -- on just 10 pitches.
Francisco Liriano warmed up in the bullpen during the eighth but was told to sit down. Walters took the mound for the ninth having thrown just 89 pitches.
He gave up a run in the ninth, but when Kosuke Fukudome tapped back to the mound to end the game it gave the Twins their first complete game by a starter since Carl Pavano threw a shutout in last year's season finale.
"It means a lot," Walters said. " You always feel like you can pitch up here but until you get up here and do it it's still a question mark. It's a question mark I can check off the list."
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