Twins get walk-off win from hot-hitting rookie Danny Valencia


Despite shutting out the Tigers for seven innings last night Francisco Liriano was denied his 13th win when the Twins’ bullpen couldn’t hold a 1-0 lead, but rookie third baseman Danny Valencia delivered a walk-off single in the 10th inning to give Minnesota the victory anyway.
Valencia began the season at Triple-A and was hitting just .292/.347/.373 with zero homers in 49 games when the Twins called him up in early June. At the time he was expected to simply provide an extra body for a few days while Michael Cuddyer was on bereavement leave, but three months later Valencia is still in the majors. And he’s hitting .332.
He’s continued to show little power after the homerless stretch at Triple-A, managing just two long balls in 208 at-bats with the Twins, but Valencia does have 16 doubles and a .332 batting average tends to make up for a lack of other things. Plus, he’s been significantly better than expected defensively, showing good range and an excellent arm at third base despite the Twins publicly questioning his glove this spring.
Valencia obviously won’t keep hitting .330, but as the batting average comes back down to earth his power should rise–prior to this season he smacked 19 homers per 150 games in the minors–and his unexpected contributions have been a big part of the Twins ability to thrive without Justin Morneau for the past two months.

Clayton Kershaw completes spring training with a 0.00 ERA

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Clayton Kershaw had nothing left to prove when he exited the mound during his last Cactus League start on Friday. He finished camp with a 0.00 ERA, made all the more impressive after he extended his scoreless streak to 21 1/3 innings following 6 2/3 frames of one-hit ball against the Royals.

In six spring training starts this year, the Dodgers southpaw racked up 12 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts. His velocity appeared to fluctuate between the high-80s and low-90s from start to start, but manager Dave Roberts told reporters that he expects Kershaw to get back up to the 93 m.p.h. range next week. Kershaw is tabbed for his eighth consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday.

The 30-year-old lefty is poised to enter his 11th season with the club in 2018. He went 18-4 in 27 starts last year and turned in a 2.31 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 over 175 innings. He suffered his fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, including a lower back strain that required a five-week stay on the disabled list.

The Dodgers will open their season against the Giants on Thursday, March 29 at 7:08 PM ET. Given the sudden rash of injuries that hit the Giants’ rotation earlier today, Kershaw’s Opening Day opponent has not yet been announced.