Brian Duensing did something last week that no major league pitcher had done in 10 years when he tossed two innings of relief just two days after making a start of six or more innings. The last to do it before Duensing, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, was Milwaukee's Steve Woodard in 2000.
I spoke with Duensing on Friday, the day after his emergency relief appearance in that 13-inning loss to Detroit, and he admitted his arm was sore. He was grateful the Twins had re-set their rotation, allowing for extra rest before his next trip to the mound.
That day is here, as Duensing pitches opposite Kansas City's Zack Greinke in tonight's series finale. We'll see how much gas Duensing has in his tank. The good news is either way, he'll likely have two extra days of rest before making his next start next week in Chicago because the Twins have open dates Thursday and Monday.
The Twins are 19-4 in their past 23 games against the Royals, so it's hard not to expect a victory. Billy Butler, Kansas City's best hitter, isn't expected to play after injuring his hand on Denard Span's hard bouncer Tuesday night. Greinke won last year's Cy Young Award, but he's 0-3 with a 10.29 ERA against the Twins this year. They have a .365 combined batting average against him this year, which is mind-boggling because he is 8-8 with a 3.36 ERA in his other 26 starts.
For scoreboard watching purposes, Chicago and Detroit play at 6:05 p.m. (Danks vs. Bonderman).
Update: Brian Fuentes is getting an MRI exam after feeling more stiffness today in his lower-back. Manager Ron Gardenhire said Fuentes threw a bullpen session at about 70 percent on Tuesday.
"He came in pretty stiff today," Gardenhire said. "Doesn’t want to take a chance, and [team doctors] decided let’s just get an MRI, see where we’re at, see what’s going on."
It's worth noting that Fuentes went on the DL and missed 16 days with a lower-back issue after facing the Twins on Opening Day, April 5. At the time it was reported that Fuentes injured himself while lifting weights.
"I know it was a back problem," Gardenhire said. "A bulging disc they told me."
The Twins acquired Fuentes from the Angels on Aug. 27 for relief prospect Loek Van Mil, and Fuentes has faced just one batter since the trade. He retired Seattle's Russell Branyan for a save on Aug. 28. The Twins are on the hook for $1.9 million of Fuentes' salary this season.
Update: Justin Morneau met with the media to discuss his nomination for this year's Roberto Clemente award. He answered a few questions about how he's feeling, too, and says he's still optimistic to return this year. He isn't hitting or throwing for now because the doctors felt that might be slowing his recovery from his July 7 concussion. But he has been running, which is something he wasn't doing before, and getting his heart rate up. He says he has had more good days than bad days of late, which is a good sign.
"It’s been a pretty good week," Morneau said. "I’ve been running, and it’s coming along slowly. That’s why I’m still optimistic that we’ll be back before the year is over."
Update: The Twins scratched Jim Thome from the lineup. Will pass along the update when we get it. Thome had reached base in 11 of his last 12 plate appearances.
Update: The Twins announced that Thome was scratched with a mild abdominal strain, saying he was removed for precautionary reasons and is day-to-day.
1. Gregor Blanco, CF
2. Mike Aviles, 2B
3. Josh Fields, 3B
4. Wilson Betemit, 1B
5. Yuniesky Betancourt, SS
6. Brayan Pena, C
7. Lucas May, DH
8. Alex Gordon, LF
9. Jai Miller, RF
Starting pitcher: RH Zack Greinke (8-11, 3.87 ERA)
1. Denard Span, CF
2. Orlando Hudson, 2B
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Jason Kubel, RF
5. Michael Cuddyer, 1B
6. Delmon Young, LF
7. Jose Morales, DH
8. J.J. Hardy, SS
9. Matt Tolbert, 3B
Starting pitcher: LH Brian Duensing (7-2, 2.09 ERA)
Target Field. First pitch: 7:10 p.m. TV: FSN. Twins Radio Network