Hobbled Twins roll behind Liriano

Francisco Liriano was back in form tonight, pitching eight and two-thirds innings without giving up an earned run. He gave up only three hits. He would have pitched a complete game shutout had not substitute first baseman Terry Tiffee dropped a ball at first base.

The Twins are having injury problems. Outfielders Lew Ford, Torii Hunter and Shannon Stewart are on the disabled list. Minor leaguers Jason Tyner and Josh Rabe (so now the Twins have a Justin, three Jasons and a Josh--sounds like a 1990 kindergarten class roster) are up, as is Rondell White. All are doing well. In fact, I sometimes prefer having hungry rookies in there to veterans like Hunter.

Hunter and Stewart seem to be on the downswing of their Twins careers. Stewart will find a nice home somewhere as a designated hitter. Hunter will get a huge contract which he doesn't deserve and will underperform for the duration of it.

Meanwhile, White has been as bad as he's going to be--and the young and hungry are doing the job in the other spots. Nick Punto, the third baseman, got a little advice from Hall of Famer Rod Carew and has turned his career around. He is fantastic on defense, and now he is actually hitting his weight.

So, no matter if the Twins can catch the White Sox and Tigers, they are going to be fun to watch.

CONTRADICTIONS: It seems I am doomed to contradict the lessons I claim to have learned in the columns I write as soon as I write them. Last week's column advocated letting nature take its course and not interfering with the drying up of the swamp during the dry spell. Today, I built a dam so that when the rains finally do return, the water will not run off so quickly and the swamp will stay more full.

Tomorrow, I will be doubly hypocritical: After announcing that I am leaving up the standing dead ash around the swamp for the birds, I am now going to saw some of them down. It is just to easy to get at those dead trees when the water is down to resist wiping their grim presence off the skyline.