Found July 15, 2012 on Fox Sports North:
Royals_vs_twins_adcf
MINNEAPOLIS After Twins left-hander Francisco Liriano struck out a career-high 15 batters Friday against Oakland, he credited part of it to being on the same page as catcher Drew Butera. Statistically speaking, there's something to that. Liriano has indeed pitched better with Butera behind the plate this season compared to when Joe Mauer or Ryan Doumit catches. Liriano has a 2.70 ERA in 11 games with Butera catching him, compared to an 8.75 ERA with seven games as Mauer as his catcher and a 10.57 ERA in two games with Doumit behind the plate. Each catcher calls a game differently, and the Twins are a baseball rarity in that they currently have three catchers on their roster. Butera doesn't provide as much offensively as Doumit or Mauer -- he's batting just .231 with four RBI in 24 games prior to Sunday -- but his teammates laud him for his ability to call a game and his defensive work behind the plate. "Drew works really well with just about anybody you put out there," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "He's a defensive-minded catcher." Mauer, meanwhile, is a three-time batting champion and five-time All-Star based on what he's done offensively in his career. Yet the 2009 American League MVP prides himself just as much on his ability to call games as he does in his prowess at the plate. "I think I probably get a little bit more attention with my bat, but there's days when you can get your guy into the seventh inning when in the first or second inning you're just hoping to get maybe three or four. I take a lot of pride in that," Mauer said. "I think all catchers know that goes unnoticed a lot." Doumit is in his first year with the Twins after seven seasons in Pittsburgh. He's played numerous positions for Minnesota this year, but he's caught in 32 games, including Sunday's start by left-hander Brian Duensing. While all three catchers have the same goal of getting their pitcher deep into games, each has a different approach to doing so. "I feel like Drew may be more of a no-nonsense, let's go right at them type of guy," said Duensing. "I think Joe is the type of catcher who will try and get ahead but isn't afraid to go to the offspeed stuff. Doumit, I feel like he's the type of guy who finds the pitch that's working and tries not to stray away from it too far." So what does it take for a pitcher and catcher to be on the same page? Is there a trick to calling a good game? It begins with the catcher's knowledge of the pitcher he's catching -- what mix of pitches he throws, what pitches are working best that day and how the pitcher reacts to different situations and adjustments the batters make. Of course, it's also essential to know the opposing hitters, but all three Twins catchers say that having a read on the starting pitcher is the top priority. "I'd say the most important thing is knowing who's out there, knowing obviously what he can do that day, knowing his pitches and knowing what's working that day," Mauer said. "That's your job as a catcher is to try to put your pitcher in the best position possible to have success." Added Doumit: "I think you've got to find out what's working well for a pitcher on that given day, what he has the most command with, what he feels the most comfortable throwing. I think that's first and foremost." Now that Mauer's in his ninth season, he's gotten to know most of the Twins' pitchers pretty well. He knows their tendencies and their best pitches, and he can pick up early on when they don't have their best stuff. But Minnesota's rotation has been in flux over the past few years. The Twins have used 11 different starting pitchers this year and have seen players like Cole De Vries and Samuel Deduno make their first major league starts this season. That's made it a bit of a challenge for Minnesota's catchers as they need to learn about each starter. "It makes it fun," Butera said. "You don't wish anything on anybody, any injuries or anything like that, but you deal with the hand that you've got. It makes it fun to learn new guys and to help them succeed." A pitcher and his catcher might not always be on the same page -- it will usually be evident early on if they're not. But the way a catcher calls the game, talks to the pitcher when he's struggling, or adjusts to what opposing hitters are doing is instrumental in how the pitcher fares on the mound. Calling a game isn't necessarily a skill that can be taught, but rather learned over time through trial and error with each pitcher. Those things won't show up in the box score, but they're certainly a big part of baseball. "It's real important that the catcher controls the game and helps (the pitcher) out," Gardenhire said. "That's the important part of the job as a catcher is being able to handle the pitchers, make sure you calm them down, understanding what the hitters or for and making those adjustments during the game. I think our catchers do a pretty decent job of that." Follow Tyler Mason on Twitter.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
RELATED ARTICLES

Report: Red Sox Believed to Be Among Teams Interested in Francisco Liriano

Francisco Liriano got the attention of the baseball world with his latest start, and the Red Sox may be among the teams that are interested in the Minnesota Twins pitcher. The left-hander turned in one of the best starts of his career on Friday night when he struck out 15 in a loss to the Oakland A's. Unsurprisingly, interest in Liriano is starting to increase on the heels of...

Twins HOF induction 'a perfect day' for Pascual

MINNEAPOLIS Camilo Pascual's curveball was a big reason he led the American League in strikeouts for three straight seasons during his career. And on Saturday, that curveball helped Pascual earn a spot in the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame. Pascual, a native of Havana, Cuba, became the 24th member inducted into the team's Hall of Fame prior to Saturday's game at Target...

Willingham on pace to set new career high

MINNEAPOLIS Josh Willingham spent just one season in Oakland, but he set a career high with 29 home runs last year with the Athletics. One year later, Willingham is on pace to surpass that total with the Minnesota Twins, and he's taking advantage of his former team in the process. After hitting two home runs in Friday's loss to Oakland, Willingham hit another in Saturday...

Twins are happy to see A's leave town

MINNEAPOLIS The last time the Minnesota Twins faced the Oakland Athletics, Minnesota emerged with a three-game sweep of the A's at Target Field. But Oakland is a much-improved team since that late-May series, as the Twins found out the hard way this weekend. Minnesota dropped Sunday's series finale by a 9-4 final score as Oakland completed a three-game sweep of the Twins...

Twins' Morneau making strides at the plate

MINNEAPOLIS Justin Morneau wouldn't go so far as to say this is the healthiest he's felt in a long time, instead saying he's "healthy enough" to play every day for the Minnesota Twins.After Monday's four-hit performance against Baltimore that extended his season-high hitting streak to 14 games, it appears Morneau is indeed healthy again after missing time...

Fielding struggles hold back Dozier's progress

MINNEAPOLIS After coming onto the scene strongly during his first month in the majors, Minnesota Twins shortstop Brian Dozier has come back to reality a bit. The dazzling plays at shortstop he made in May have turned into misplays of routine grounders in July. His early tear at the plate -- he batted .279 with eight RBI and a pair of homers in his first 14 games -- has slowed down...

Twins Get Curb Stomped By A’s Last Night, 999-3!

(1.) How many hits did it take to get 999 runs? (2.) At what point did the Twins go to position players as to save the bullpen for today’s game? (3.) Will Ron Gardenhire lose his job over this embarrassing loss? Helluva fantasy baseball night. (via @johnharpster) Filed under: Baseball

Liriano's 15 K's not enough to beat A's

MINNEAPOLIS Francisco Liriano has shown throughout his career that he can be a dominating pitcher. But Friday's outing may have been Liriano's most dominant start to date. The Twins left-hander fanned a career-high 15 batters Friday against Oakland, baffling Athletics hitters for eight innings. Yet one rough inning was all it took for Liriano and the Twins to come away...

Orioles-Twins Preview

It's been nearly 11 months since the last time the Baltimore Orioles visited Minnesota, and that's probably just fine with the Twins. Jim Thome's final game in a Twins uniform was the same day as the Orioles' last visit, but he's made frequent trips back to haunt Minnesota. Losers of 10 of 14 overall, Thome and the Orioles look to get well Monday night when...

Twins' Liriano fans 15 in loss to A's

Minnesota Twins starter Francisco Liriano was cruising through the Oakland Athletics lineup Friday, looking as dominant as he did when he threw a no-hitter against the Chicago White Sox last season. Then, Oakland's Johnny Gomes deposited his one bad pitch into the second deck in left field for a grand slam. In past cases, it would have been the beginning of the end for the enigmatic...

Francisco Liriano strikes out 15 in loss

Francisco Liriano struck out a career high 15 batters on Friday night against the Oakland Athletics, but failed to win the game after giving up a grand slam to Jonny Gomes. The 15 batters fanned by Liriano on Friday was the second most in Twins’ history, two behind Johan Santana’s record 17 strikeouts in 2007 against the Texas Rangers. Liriano recorded ten straight outs to start...

Gomes' grand slam power A's over Liriano, Twins

Jonny Gomes' grand slam helped the Oakland Athletics overcome a career-high 15 strikeouts from Francisco Liriano and beat the Minnesota Twins 6-3 on Friday. Liriano's 15 strikeouts were the second most in Twins' history and most since Johan Santana fanned 17 Texas batters at the Metrodome on Aug. 19, 2007. Josh Willingham hit two home runs for Minnesota which has lost...
Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.