The Minnesota Twins haven't been able to dig their way out of some early holes, thanks to their struggling rotation.
That could change when they send one of their hottest pitchers to the mound.
Scott Diamond was the latest Minnesota starter to fall on difficult times Thursday, allowing seven runs and nine hits in five-plus innings in a 7-2 loss to Kansas City. He was optioned to the minors following the game.
Minnesota's starters have the highest ERA in baseball at 5.18, and they've posted a 7.65 ERA while giving up 34 hits over 20 innings during the team's skid.
It's been a much different story when the Twins (45-60) have had Deduno (7-4, 3.18 ERA) toeing the rubber.
The right-hander has been effectively wild during a three-start winning streak, allowing 11 walks but only three runs in 21 innings. He's thrown seven innings in each of those outings, all on the road.
Deduno matched a season high with six strikeouts while walking three and allowing three hits over seven innings in Saturday's 4-0 win at Seattle.
"Guys, if they ever do get to first, say, 'Man, I don't know what to look for off this guy,'" first baseman Justin Morneau said. "And then it's got so much movement they can't get locked in on anything. You rarely see guys square the ball up off him."
Deduno will try to continue his run back at Target Field, where he's gone 3-1 with a 2.33 ERA over four quality starts.
He'll face a Houston team that has batted a major league-worst .225 while dropping 22 of 28 since June 28.
Marc Krauss (.208) has struggled during this stretch, but he hit his second home run in five games as the Astros lost 6-3 in Baltimore on Thursday. Carlos Pena was 4 for 31 with 12 strikeouts before getting released Wednesday.
Following his first major league hit Thursday, L.J. Hoes is 1 for 9 in two games since being acquired from the Orioles for Bud Norris , who defeated the Astros in the series finale.
Houston (36-71) could be without leading hitter Jose Altuve , who was held out of the starting lineup Thursday to rest his sore left quad.
The Astros certainly haven't helped Cosart (1-0, 0.86) much by giving him five runs of support in his first three starts. The right-hander has allowed 13 hits and walked 11 over 21 innings while limiting opponents to a .191 batting average.
Cosart gave up one run and four hits while walking five over six innings in a 2-1 loss at Toronto on Sunday.
He'll make his first start against the Twins, who have averaged 2.5 runs and batted .198 while losing six of eight.
After hitting .175 with four homers in July, Morneau had a promising start to August with a home run and double Thursday.
This is the first meeting between these teams since the Astros took two of three at Minnesota in 2009.
|July 31, 2013||Brandon Barnes||Day-to-Day||Lower back tightness|
|July 27, 2013||Jose Altuve||Day-to-Day||Left quad tightness|
|July 27, 2013||J.D. Martinez||15-Day DL||Sprained left wrist|
|July 23, 2013||Brandon Barnes||Day-to-Day||Left game - mild left calf strain|
|July 09, 2013||Ronny Cedeno||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised left toe|
|June 29, 2013||Justin Maxwell||7-Day DL||Mild concussion|
|July 01, 2013||Josh Willingham||15-Day DL||Medial meniscus tear, left knee|
|July 01, 2013||Josh Willingham||Day-to-Day||Left knee soreness|
|June 19, 2013||Mike Pelfrey||15-Day DL||Back strain|
|June 19, 2013||Mike Pelfrey||15-Day DL||Back strain|
|June 11, 2013||Jared Burton||Day-to-Day||Groin injury|
|June 10, 2013||Aaron Hicks||15-Day DL||Left hamstring strain|
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- After watching his Minnesota Twins fumble through a mistake-filled sweep at the hands of the Kansas City Royals , Ron Gardenhire held a lengthy pregame workout to refocus on the fundamentals and grab everyone's attention.
Hours later, he made a big mistake of his own. But Brian Dozier and Kevin Correia bailed him out.
Dozier's third hit of the game scored Clete Thomas in the 13th inning to lift the Twins to a 4-3 victory over the Houston Astros on Friday night.
Due to a substitution miscue by Gardenhire that caused the Twins to lose the designated hitter in the ninth inning, the manager had to go to Correia, a starting pitcher, to pinch-hit in the 13th inning. Correia, who spent 10 years hitting in the National League, bunted Thomas to second base and Dozier followed by punching a single to right field for his second RBI of the game to snap Minnesota's four-game losing streak.
"I end up getting myself in a pickle there," said Gardenhire, who said he should've pinch-ran Jamey Carroll for DH Chris Colabello before using Carroll as a defensive replacement. "I'm like, `What the (heck) did I do that for?' It became entertaining."
As the game wore on and Gardenhire ran out of bench players to hit in the pitcher's spot, more and more starters started offering their services. Mike Pelfrey , another NL vet with the Mets, was warming up in the on-deck circle before Gardenhire put Correia in to get the bunt down.
"It's fun," Correia said. "We don't get that opportunity anymore at the plate being in the American League. We're normally sitting there just as spectators four days a week. So it's fun to get in a game, especially if you can help your team get a win."
The Twins trailed 3-2 entering the ninth after All-Star closer Glen Perkins gave up an RBI double to Matt Dominguez . But Dozier's single off Chia-Jen Lo tied the game, and Dozier came through again off Dallas Keuchel (5-6) to win it with two outs in the 13th.
Ryan Pressly (3-2) pitched two innings of relief for the win.
"A much-needed win for the team," Dozier said. "A confidence booster."
Jarred Cosart gave up one run on five hits and struck out four in seven innings, and Dominguez had two hits for the Astros (36-72), who have the worst record in the major leagues.
It was a much needed pick-me-up for the Twins, who were reeling from a sweep at the hands of the Royals that was capped by a lackluster performance on Thursday.
Gardenhire had a long talk with his position players before a strenuous pregame workout to refocus on the fundamentals and try and grab the attention of a team that has long since faded from contention in the AL Central.
Justin Morneau had two hits, including an RBI single in the eighth that tied the game at 2 for the Twins. Joe Mauer added a sacrifice fly, and Samuel Deduno gave up two runs on four hits with five strikeouts and five walks in six innings for the Twins, who were handcuffed by Cosart for seven innings.
Cosart left with a 2-1 lead after seven innings, finally giving the Twins a chance.
The Astros are the youngest team by far in the majors, and they're the greenest in the bullpen.
They traded closer Jose Veras to Detroit earlier this week. With no proven closer, Astros manager Bo Porter had to go to Lo, who was making his second career appearance, with a runner on second and one out in the ninth. Lo's wild pitch allowed pinch-runner Doug Bernier to go to third, and Dozier's single landed in front of center fielder Brandon Barnes to tie it.
Porter turned to Keuchel, who was scheduled to start on Sunday, in the 12th.
Jason Castro had two RBIs for Houston.
"We had opportunities to close it out and just didn't get the job done," Porter said.
NOTES: Houston 2B Jose Altuve was held out of the starting lineup for a second straight game to rest his sore left quad. Porter said he was available to hit. ... Dozier extended his hitting streak to a career-high nine games with a double in the eighth. ... The Twins announced that they will select the contract of LHP Andrew Albers from Triple-A Rochester on Saturday. He is scheduled to make his first big league start on Tuesday at Kansas City. ... The Twins send RHP Kyle Gibson (2-3 6.21) to the mound on Saturday against Houston LHP Erik Bedard (3-8, 4.28).