Downward spiral continues as Duensing gets roughed up

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 24, 2011 - 7:09 AM
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Twins starter Brian Duensing

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

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After falling 20 games under .500 and teasing their fans with a brief recovery, the Twins are in another major tailspin.

The worst team in the American League has outclassed them on consecutive nights.

The Orioles scored seven runs by the third inning against struggling starter Brian Duensing and cruised to an 8-1 victory on Tuesday night at Target Field.

The Twins are 9-24 in their past 33 games. Baltimore (49-77) has outscored them 12-2 in the first two games of this four-game series.

The Twins were excited to have Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel together in the same lineup Tuesday for the first time since April 12. They finished 0-for-13.

Alfredo Simon (4-6) held the Twins to three hits, pitching a career-high eight innings with one walk and a career-high eight strikeouts.

"He was Cy Young tonight. He ate us up; you watched it," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Was he that good, or were we that bad? I don't have those answers. I wasn't swinging the bat. He looked pretty good to me."

Duensing (8-13) retired the side in the first inning, but got hit in his pitching hand with Vladimir Guerrero's comebacker in the second inning and wasn't the same. Duensing said three of his fingers felt numb for about three or four pitches.

"That really wasn't the issue today," Duensing said. "I was up in the zone, wasn't executing again, and you just can't pitch like that at this level. I've gotta find a way to fix it."

Thome update

The Twins should learn Wednesday afternoon which team has won the trade waiver claim for Jim Thome, and it's a good bet it'll be the Indians or White Sox, whichever team awakes lower in the standings. At that point, the Twins would have 48 hours to work a deal with the claiming team.

Thome has played for both AL Central rivals, but it's uncertain if he'd agree to such a move. He has a full no-trade clause, and the Twins can pull him off waivers at any point.

If Thome's only desire were to play for the Phillies, the Twins could help steer him there by placing him on release waivers. Then, if Thome got claimed again, he could refuse that assignment and become a free agent, allowing him to pick any team.

Gibson update

Twins pitching prospect Kyle Gibson got a second opinion on his right elbow from Dr. David Altcheck, and just like the Twins doctors, Altcheck recommended that Gibson continue rehabbing his injury and re-evaulate after the initial phase of his throwing program.

Gibson, 23, has a partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament, so it's still very possible he'll have the Tommy John reconstructive procedure. If Gibson has that surgery now or this fall, he'll miss the entire 2012 season either way, so he'll use the next several weeks to see if the rehab route works.

Etc.

 Orioles center fielder Adam Jones was taken to a hospital for tests after feeling ill and leaving the game. No further information was available.

• Nick Blackburn's MRI exam showed an entrapped nerve, caused by inflammation, in his right forearm but no ligament, tendon or muscle damage. The specialist expects the issue to subside with two weeks of rest, and head trainer Rick McWane said the Twins expect Blackburn to pitch again this season.

• Scott Baker (strained flexor muscle) began a throwing program, and there's hope that he'll return from the disabled list by mid-September.

• Tsuyoshi Nishioka hasn't been in the lineup since Friday because of a sore lower back, oblique issue. He has been available off the bench and is expected to go through a full pregame workout Wednesday.

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