Rattled Twins shake the rolls

Another lackluster loss led to moves: Danny Valencia was sent down and Francisco Liriano was sent to the bullpen.

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The Twins on Wednesday lost 6-2 to the Angels -- and burned up the phone lines to Class AAA Rochester after the game.

Third baseman Danny Valencia, whose batting average dipped to .190 with a 0-for-4 night, was optioned to Rochester.

Lefthander Matt Maloney, who had a 8.18 ERA through 11 innings, was designated for assignment.

Lefthander Francisco Liriano, who won 14 games in 2010 but has lost 15 since, was demoted to the bullpen.

Outfielder Darin Mastroianni and righthander P.J. Walters are headed to join the Twins, with Walters getting the start Saturday against Toronto.

At 8-22 and with the worst record in the majors, the Twins have more issues than these moves can address. But they could not stand pat.

"This is just something that we've got to do right now," Gardenhire said. "We need to make some changes. We need some hits. We need some new life in here, the whole package."

Valencia's demotion is not surprising, given his glaring lack of production.

Gardenhire criticized Valencia's play at times this season but had been supportive lately and kept writing his name in the lineup. But Valencia's hitting got worse. Including Wednesday's game, Valencia went 26 plate appearances this month without a hit. So it's back to Rochester for him for the first time since June of 2010.

"He asked me the question, 'What's it take for me to get back up here?'"Gardenhire said. "I told him, "the same thing it took for you got get here the first time. Go down there, be successful, get some hits, play the game and get back up here."

Valencia was honest after the game.

"It's hard not to say I didn't see it coming because I haven't been hitting very well," he said. "I've been inconsistent. My defense has been good, but I'm a guy that needs to contribute offensively. He's right, they're right. I just have to go down there and work hard."

Liriano, Gardenhire said, took the demotion well, telling him that he's willing to do anything in order to get better and contribute. Gardenhire made it clear that the club wants Liriano back in the rotation.

"We just gotta get him right," Gardenhire said "We've got to get him into some situations to try and get him some success. We've talked about it. Maybe a couple innings here, a couple innings there, he blows some people away and gets some kind of mojo going."

Mastroianni, who debuted last year with Toronto, was claimed off waivers on Feb. 2. He began the season at Class AA New Britain, batting .143 in nine games. He went to Rochester because of injuries and batted .346 in 20 games. Walters, who was in spring training with the club, was 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA in six starts for the Red Wings.

The Twins on Wednesday fell behind 5-0 as starter Carl Pavano, 2-3, was knocked out of the game in the fifth. The offense struggled, going 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

Angels righthander Ervin Santana won his first game of the year after watching his team get shut out in each of his five previous starts.

The Twins' season has fallen apart, so moves like those done after the game make sense.

"We're just trying to get some performance out on the field," Gardenhire said. "Get some people right."

  • L.A. ANGELS 6, TWINS 2

    Up next: Four-games series vs. Toronto at Target Field • Game 1: 7:10 tonight • TV: FSN (1500-AM)

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