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Brian Duensing

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Brian Matthew Duensing

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Brian Duensing is a pitcher in the Minnesota Twins system. He started one of the most prominent wins in Team USA history in 2007.

Duensing wasa second-team All-Nebraska player as a senior and a junior, hitting .429 and .434 respectively. He was 16-3 in his last two years in American Legion Baseball. As a senior, he was 9-1 with a 0.74 ERA in American Legion play and hit .522, the best mark in the state. He was undrafted out of high school.

Duensing was 6-2 with a 4.73 ERA as a freshman for the University of Nebraska in 2002, one of two freshman pitchers used by a team that made the College World Series. Duensing helped them get there, throwing 11 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings in the NCAA Regional and Super Regional and being named to the Lincoln Regional All-Tournament Team alongside teammate Shane Komine. Duensing allowed 4 runs to the University of South Carolina in the 2002 College World Series, getting a no-decision. In 2003, Brian was 3-0 with a 2.42 ERA before an injury cut his season short. He had Tommy John surgery in March of 2004 and was redshirted. In 2005, the junior southpaw was 8-0 with a 3.00 ERA for the #5 team in NCAA Division I.

The Minnesota Twins picked Duensing in the 3rd round of the 2005 amateur draft, with their 6th overall selection; the pick was compensation for the loss of Cristian Guzman to free agency. Duensing was the 84th overall selection, one pick after Micah Owings. He was signed by scout Mark Wilson for a $400,000 bonus.

Duensing made his professional debut with the Elizabethton Twins, going 4-3 with a 2.32 ERA and striking out 55 in 50 1/3 IP. Had he qualified, he would have ranked third in the Appalachian League in ERA, ahead of Jesse Litsch. Teammate Alexander Smit impressed even more in strikeouts, though. Duensing did not make the Baseball America list of the league's top 20 prospects.

In 2006, Duensing pitched for the Beloit Snappers (2-3, 2.94), Fort Myers Miracle (2-5, 4.24) and New Britain Rock Cats (1-2, 3.65), showing good strikeout-walk ratios at each stop. In 2007, he led Twins farmhands in innings (167) and tied Jeff Manship for the most wins (15). He was 4-1, 2.66 for New Britain and 11-5, 3.24 for the Rochester Red Wings. He struck out 133 and walked 38. He was 3 strikeouts behind Manship for the lead among Twins farmhands. He was third in the International League in ERA after teammate Kevin Slowey and Garrett Olson and was two wins behind league co-leaders Heath Phillips and Mitch Talbot. He tied for 9th in the affiliated minors in victories.

Duensing joined Team USA for the fall of 2007. He pitched very well against the Silver and Bronze Medal winners in the 2007 Baseball World Cup, being used as Team USA's ace. He was 1-0 with a 1.86 ERA in the event. He pitched five scoreless innings against Japan before allowing a run in the sixth and being replaced by Neal Musser. Eight days later, he got the start in the Gold Medal game against the mighty Cuban national team. He threw four scoreless frames as the US built a 5-0 lead. In the 5th, he let Yoandry Urgellés and Eduardo Paret reach and both came home on a single by Alfredo Despaigne. Duensing was yanked in favor of Steven Shell. Shell wound up with the US's historic first Baseball World Cup Gold Medal game win over Cuba as Duensing had failed to work five full innings.

Brian was only 5-11 with a 4.28 ERA for the Rochester Red Wings in 2008.

Duensing was a late addition to the US roster for the 2008 Olympics, after Geno Espineli and Clayton Richard were called up to the majors. Brian was 1-0 with a 1.17 ERA in Beijing, allowing 3 hits in 7 2/3 IP. He tossed 3 1/3 shutout innings for a relief win in a 5-4 victory over Team Canada. The only run he allowed in Beijing was a solo homer to Frederich Cepeda in a loss to the Cuban national team.

Brian Duensing made his first major league appearance with the Minnesota Twins on April 10, 2009, pitching 3 innings in relief (and giving up two runs) against the White Sox. He was 5-2 with a 3.64 ERA for the Twins that year, also going 4-6 with a 4.66 ERA for Rochester. He struggled in the postseason, with 5 runs in 4 2/3 IP in a game one loss to CC Sabathia and the 2009 in the ALDS. He was superb for the 2010 Twins (10-3, 2.62, 156 ERA+), the best ERA of any of their hurlers with 50+ innings and tied with Nick Blackburn for 5th on the team in wins. The Yankees had his number again in the ALDS as he gave up 7 hits and 5 runs in 3 1/3 innings in dropping the decisive game 3.

Duensing went into the tank in 2011 (9-14, 5.23, 77 ERA+). He tied Trevor Cahill and Félix Hernández for 4th in the 2011 AL in losses. Moving to relief in 2012, his woes continued at 4-12, 5.12. He led Minnesota in losses for a second straight year. His 55 appearances were 4th on the club behind Glen Perkins, Alex Burnett and Jared Burton. He opened 2013 sharper. On August 9th, he won both ends of a doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox, becoming the first major leaguer with two wins in a day since Luis Vizcaino in 2007, and the first in franchise annals since Walter Johnson back in 1923.

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