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Minnesota Twins show some pluck in June after dismal start to season

You’ll never guess which team is tied for the most wins — and has by far the best earned-run average — in the majors this month.

Give up?

It’s the Minnesota Twins, who lost their first game in June, then won 12 of the next 14.

And in their last four games heading into the weekend, Twins starters have allowed just three runs, getting complete games from Carl Pavano and Scott Baker, a seven-inning no-hitter from Francisco Liriano and eight shutout innings from Nick Blackburn. The staff ERA for June is 2.01.

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That’s a big turnaround from the first two months of the season, when Minnesota starters were 13-23 with an ERA around 4.50.

And now reinforcements are on the way. Former batting champion Joe Mauer returned to the lineup Friday for the first time since April 12, infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka played Thursday for the first time since fracturing his left tibia April 7, and former All-Star closer Joe Nathan, out nearly a month, is expected to begin a minor-league rehab assignment soon.

Not that it’s made much of a difference in the standings — Minnesota is dead last in the American League Central with the league’s worst record. Yet they’re just eight games out of first with 31/2 months to play, leaving some Twins believing they can still win the division.

“I don’t see why not,” outfielder Michael Cuddyer told mlb.com “We’ve just got to go out there and continue to play each individual game and hopefully win.

“And if we do that, hopefully when you look back at the whole thing, you are where you want to be.”

Fish flounder into division cellar

As for the team with baseball’s worst record in June, that would be the reeling Florida Marlins, who have won just once in 17 tries, falling from second place, two games behind Philadelphia in the National League East, to the division cellar, 11½ games out.

That’s left Manager Edwin Rodriguez’s job very much in jeopardy.

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The Marlins have already fired hitting coach John Mallee, and now, in addition to Rodriguez, pitching coach Randy St. Claire appears to be in the hot seat.

After a tremendous April in which Florida had the league’s second-best ERA at 3.16, the Marlins’ injury-plagued staff has a 5.20 mark in June.

Stat watch (Bronx Bomber edition)

— When Mark Teixeira homered twice in the Yankees’ win over Texas on Wednesday, he not only matched Curtis Granderson for the team lead with 21, but he and Granderson also joined Mickey Mantle-Roger Maris (1961) and Babe Ruth-Lou Gehrig (1927, 1930) as the only pairs of Yankee teammates to hit at least 20 homers in the season’s first 66 games.

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— As a team, the Yankees entered the weekend with 103 homers, more than the double the total of 11 other teams and more than the Dodgers and Angels have hit combined. That leaves them on pace for a franchise-record 249 for the season, breaking the mark of 244 set in new Yankee Stadium’s inaugural season in 2009.

— The Yankees have scored nearly half, 47.1%, of their baseball-best 357 runs on homers.


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