Matthew Pouliot

Alex Rodriguez

Ryan Dempster declines to appeal five-game suspension

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While still maintaining his innocence Tuesday, Ryan Dempster decided not to appeal the five-game suspension handed down by MLB. He started serving the penalty with Tuesday’s game against the Giants.

Dempster insisted Tuesday that he was just trying to pitch inside when, in the second inning of Sunday’s tilt between the Yankees and Red Sox, he hit Alex Rodriguez with a fastball. On what appeared to be at least the second try.

“No, I’m just accepting the suspension because I think it’s the best thing for us an organization,” Dempster said. “We’re trying to go out and win a division and get to the ultimate goal. You know, I’m just going to accept my suspension and move past it. Put the incident behind us and just go out there and continue to play baseball like we did last night.”

As opposed to when he hurt the cause by putting the leadoff man with a 2-0 lead Sunday. Dempster wound up allowing two runs in the second inning and seven overall in a 9-6 loss.

The Red Sox have Thursday and next Monday off, so Dempster’s suspension is no problem for them. Dempster’s turn was due to come up Saturday, but now he’ll pitch next Tuesday at the earliest.

Joe Mauer scratched due to dizziness

Joe Mauer
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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.