April 20, 2009

Twins Sweep Halos

The Minnesota Twins completed their first sweep of an opponent since sweeping the White Sox at the end of September. The Twins outscored the Los Angeles Angels 23 to 12 while collecting double-digit hits in each game.

The offensive surge was powered a lot on Jason Kubel's 8-14 series. Coming into the series, Kubel was hitting .226/.273/.355 through 21 at-bats. After Saturday's four-hit performance, Kubel's hitting line was up to .366/.395/.636 before dropping back down to .333/.362/.578 after going 0-4 on Sunday. He also doubled his RBI production on the season in those two games. Obviously all this really shows is that it's early in the season and a couple of games can really affect your statistics, but it does show the kind of series Kubel had.

Kubel hit for the cycle on Friday, just the second Twins player to do so since Kirby Puckett did so nearly 23 years ago. The other player to do so was Carlos Gomez, who accomplished this feat against the Chicago White Sox in May of last year.

Of course, the biggest highlight of the game was his dramatic go-ahead grand slam in the bottom of the eighth inning which eventually proved to clinch the game for the Twins, despite being down 9-4 when they came to bat in that inning.

Kubel then followed up his four-hit performance on Friday with another four-hit performance on Saturday en route to a Twins 9-2 win. Kevin Slowey gave up only two runs over seven innings in his best start of the season. Both runs came off of a Torii Hunter home run in the second inning, which brings Slowey's season total up to five home runs surrendered, tied for second most in baseball.

On Sunday, the offense was cooled by a ground ball pitcher named Shane Loux. Loux induced 12 ground ball outs in the game, the fourth time this season an opposing pitcher has induced double-digit ground ball outs against the Twins. Loux 'quieted' the Twins to just three runs but Twins starter Glen Perkins did him one better (or two better) and held the Angels to only one run in his second victory of the season.

Perkins is now 1-1 despite giving up only four runs on the season while hurling eight innings in each of his starts. Perkins has made all three of his starts at home in the Metrodome but is scheduled to make his next start on the road against the Cleveland Indians next Sunday.

Offensively, Jose Morales picked up his first RBI of his career while going 2-3 with a double. Gomez went 3-3 with an RBI. All three of Gomez's hits were hit inside the infield. He also was called out while trying to steal second base, which replay showed was probably the wrong call.

The Twins will now have their first off-day of the season before heading to Boston to face the Red Sox on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Twins were swept in Boston last year and the last time the two teams faced eachother, the Red Sox clobbered the Twins 18-5.

The Twins will face knuckle ball thrower Tim Wakefield on Tuesday while countering with Scott Baker. Wakefield is has a 13-5 record with an ERA of 4.31, BAA of .249, WHIP of 1.28 and a K/BB ratio of 2.11 against the Twins, which are very similar to his career numbers at Fenway. In his last start, Wakefield no-hit the Athletics through seven innings before throwing a complete game victory while surrendering two runs.

On Wednesday, the Red Sox will send Brad Penny to the hill while Francisco Liriano will get the start for the Twins. Penny is 0-0 with an ERA of 7.50 in one start against the Twins. Liriano has never faced the Red Sox which should make for an interesting game for both teams.

The Twins found their stroke at the plate while the pitching was excellent this weekend, hopefully it carries over against the always-tough Boston Red Sox.

Game Ball

April 19, 2009 vs. Los Angeles Angels
Glen Perkins - Starting Pitcher
Line: 8 innings pitched, 4 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts, win