Allows two hits, no walks in eight innings
Since returning to the Twins on May 19, those flashes of promise that were few and far between have started showing up on a regular basis. These days, when Scott Baker toes the rubber, I believe the Twins will have a legitimate chance to win the game because of his efforts. Since June 15, the 25-year old has had only one bad start. Over his last eight starts, his line has been more than satisfactory:
Split IP ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9
6/20 - 7/30 52.1 3.61 0.99 6.71 1.03 0.52
On Monday night he mixed a dancing fastball (92-94 mph) with an array of offspeed and breaking pitches. He seemed to work extremely well moving in and out on hitters as opposed to up and down, and kept the pitches that were up in the zone to a minimum. Scott Baker is pitching with confidence and authority, and this time out he owned the offense.
Offensively for the Twins, Jason Tyner led off with Castillo's departure for New York. He went 3-for-4 and narrowly missed his second career home run, bouncing a rocket off the baggy no more than two feet from the top. His line included a single, double and triple with two runs, and is now batting .318/.362/.432 since June 1.
All three runs were knocked in by Joe Mauer, driving in both Tyner and Bartlett in the bottom of the first with a beautiful line drive double downt the left field line. His third RBI came in the bottom of the eighth, when Royal reliever Jimmy Gobble (who had been checking on Tyner at second base) was halfway through his windup before even laying eyes on home plate. Buck was set up outside and Gobble missed inside, and Mauer drove it to right field for a single. Tyner scored easily to make the score what would be an eventual final of 3-1.
Monday's win puts the Twins six games back of the Indians. Depending on the outcome of the Tigers/Athletics game, they could be either six or seven behind Detroit. In spite of Luis Castillo's trade late Monday afternoon, the Twins appear to be far from 'done' mathematically or realistically, no matter how badly things looked after Cleveland trounced us on Friday. Hopefully the Twins can continue to take care of business with Kansas City in town for three more days.