July 21, 2008

Twins take 2 of 3, move in within a half game

Before the All-Star Break, the Twins were winning with great starting pitching and that same trend continues for the Twins as their starters propelled them to a 2-1 series victory.

On Friday, Glen Perkins 6 shutout innings and improved to 7-2 on the season. He gave up 3 hits and 3 walks but kept the game in control and lowered his ERA to 3.84 on the season. Craig Breslow, Jesse Crain, and Boof Bonser all combined for 3 perfect innings in relief to hold the victory.

On Saturday, Livan Hernandez fell behind 2-1 after a 2-run home run to Chris Davis in the 2nd inning, but after that it was vintage Livan. He shut down the next 12 batters he faced by working the corners and using his vast difference in speed. With this outing, Hernandez stands at 10-6 with a 5.29 ERA on the season and continues to get support from the organization before the trade deadline. If they decide to trade him, he certainly could improve his value with another good performance.

And finally on Sunday, although Scott Baker pitched a great game the offense seemed to use up all of its gas on Satuday. After scoring 14 runs on 16 hits the night before, the Twins offense could only muster 3 hits on Sunday which left Scott Baker in a tough situation. His perfect game was broken up in the 6th inning after Taylor Teagarden launched his first hit of his career into the seats in center field. And despite giving up just 1 run on 2 hits over 8 innings, Baker still fell victim to the loss after the Twins were shutout by Vincente Padilla, "Everyday" Eddie Guardado and C.J. Wilson. With the loss, Baker fell to 6-3 on the season but still lowered his ERA to 3.26. Baker also struck out 8 batters which gives him a 12 K lead over Nick Blackburn for the team leader. Baker has also had 4 less starts than Blackburn, which makes it all the more impressive.

Delmon Young had a great series. The 22-year-old left fielder went 8-12 with a home run, 3 RBI's, and his first 4-game series of his career. A couple weeks ago, I mentioned how Young was finally starting to get into his stride and he doesn't look to be stopping. Since I posted that, he's hit .385 with 2 home runs and 11 RBI. If he continues this, he will add great depth to our lineup and although he likely will never hit between Joe Mauer & Justin Morneau (at least not anytime soon), he certainly may give Gardenhire a reason to move him to #5 behind Morneau and ahead of Jason Kubel.

Despite participating in both the home run derby and the 15-inning All-Star Game in which he scored the winning run, Justin Morneau doesn't seem to have missed a step at all. The Canadian Slugger went 3-11 but drove in 5 runs, two of which came off of his 15th home run of the season. His counterpart in the Home Run Derby, Josh Hamilton went 2-8 in the series without a home run. Morneau was hit on the hand by a pitch that he swung threw in the 9th inning of Sunday's game, but he finished the at bat and seems to be alright for the series.

Joe Mauer went 4-11 with 4 runs scored, 3 RBI and he hit his 6th home run of the season and all have come since June 2nd. Since June 2nd, Mauer has hit .333 (44-132) with 13 doubles, 6 home runs, 23 RBI and 27 walks. He is in contention yet again for another batting title and with Ian Kinsler going 0-11 in the series, Mauer moved within .04 points of the AL batting lead. Morneau is a close 3rd hitting .322 on the season.

Brian Buscher continues to show why he deserves to be the everyday 3rd baseman for the Twins, going 5-10 with a home run and 4 RBI. Alexi Casilla went 4-10 in the first two games, but 0-4 on Sunday, the day of his 24th Birthday. Carlos Gomez went 2-13 with 2 doubles, but his spot on top of the lineup appears to be in jeopardy although his likely replacement at the top Denard Span went 2-12 in the series. Still, Span is getting on at a much higher percentage and it appears that if Gomez doesn't turn it around early in this series he might be hitting 9th in the Cleveland Series.

The Twins are set to face the Yankees in a 3-game series which begins tonight at Yankee Stadium. It's the last time the Twins will play there (unless if both teams meet in the playoffs) and it fortunately for the Twins they don't have to face Joba Chamberlain and Andy Pettitte, both who are having great seasons. Instead, the Twins will face Sidney Ponson (5-1, 3.96) tonight, Darrell Rasner (5-7, 4.97) tomorrow, and Mike Mussina (12-6, 3.49) on Wednesday. For the Twins, Nick Blackburn (7-5, 3.65) will face Ponson, Kevin Slowey (6-6, 4.26) will take on Rasner while Glen Perkins (7-2, 3.84) gets to face Mussina.

Should be a great series!

Friday's Game Ball
Delmon Young - Left Field

4-4, RBI, SB
Twins win, 6-0.

Saturday's Game Ball
Justin Morneau - First Base

2-5, double, home run, 5 RBI, walk
Twins win, 14-2.

Sunday's Game Ball
Scott Baker - Starting Pitcher

Line: 8 innings pitched, 2 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 8 K
Twins lose, 1-0.