Matthew Pouliot

Joe Mauer

Joe Mauer scratched due to dizziness

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Joe Mauer, who took several foul tips off his mask in Monday’s game against the Mets, was a late scratch for Tuesday’s game against the Tigers after experiencing dizziness during batting practice.

Even before the dizziness struck, manager Ron Gardenhire said Mauer probably wouldn’t catch in the series against Detroit, according to the Pioneer Press’s Mike Berardino. Mauer was slated to play first base tonight. His exit resulted in Justin Morneau going from DH to first base, Josh Willingham going from left field to DH and Wilkin Ramirez being inserted into the lineup in left field.

That is what we in the know term a downgrade.

Mauer is riding a seven-game hitting streak and has three homers and 12 RBI in August. If he returns to the lineup on Wednesday, it will probably be at first base or DH. It’s clear the Twins’ plan was to have him catch less down the stretch anyway, figuring it’s not worth putting the stress on his legs in a season in which they’re also-rans once again.

Francisco Liriano strikes out 13 in latest gem

Francisco Liriano
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The Pirates made the best free agent signing of last winter when they inked Francisco Liriano to a two-year contract, though it nearly fell apart because of an injury to Liriano’s non-throwing arm.

That injury caused the deal to be knocked down to $12.75 million from its original $14 million and it resulted in Liriano spending the first 40 days of the season on the DL, but he’s been lights out since returning, allowing one or no runs in 13 of his 19 starts, including five of his last six (though he did give up 10 runs in 2 1/3 innings in the other).

Liriano’s latest gem Monday saw him strike out 13 batters over seven scoreless innings in a defeat of the Padres. It was the second highest strikeout total of his career (he fanned 15 against the A’s last July). He improved to 14-5 with a 2.53 ERA on the season.

The Twins have to be shaking their heads to see Liriano experiencing such success. He went 6-12 with a 5.34 ERA for Minnesota and the White Sox last year. Though the Twins practically gave him away in a deadline deal, they weighed re-signing him last winter. Still, they weren’t going to offer him more than a one-year deal. The Pirates went two years and are thrilled that they did, considering that Liriano might be this winter’s No. 2 free agent starter behind Matt Garza (another ex-Twin) if he were back on the market. Despite the late start, Liriano has 126 strikeouts in 121 innings this season. The Twins’ strikeout leader is Kevin Correia with 80 in 140 2/3 IP.

Rangers sac bunt in third, score 11 runs

Leonys Martin
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It was just the way Ron Washington drew it up.

Ian Kinsler, the Rangers’ No. 3 hitter, bunted two runners with none out in the bottom of the third with Texas up 2-1 on Houston tonight. An intentional walk to Adrian Beltre followed. Then came the 11 runs.

11!

Here’s the whole gory inning:

– Leonys Martin reaches on bunt single
– Elvis Andrus singles
– Ian Kinsler sacrifices
– Adrian Beltre intentionally walks
– A.J. Pierzynski singles (2 runs)
– Alex Rios singles
– Mitch Moreland doubles (2 runs)
– Jurickson Profar walks
(Pitching change: Wade LeBlanc replaces Lucas Harrell)
– David Murphy reaches on error (2 runs)
– Leonys Martin walks
– Elvis Andrus reaches on error (1 run)
– Ian Kinsler singles (2 runs)
– Adrian Beltre grounds out (1 run)
– A.J. Pierzynski singles (1 run)
– Alex Rios lines out

It was the biggest inning by any team this season (the previous high was nine runs), and none of it would have happened without the bunt. Maybe. Who really knows?

Well, I do know one thing: the Astros shouldn’t be intentionally walking hitters in the third innings of games. They especially shouldn’t have right-handed pitchers intentionally walk right-handed hitters to face left-handed hitters in the third innings of games (Beltre was also intentionally walked in the first. It kind of worked then, though the Rangers did score a run afterwards).

All 11 runs scored after that intentional walk. The Rangers ended up sending 15 hitters to the plate, only one of whom (Moreland) actually picked up an extra-base hit.