Pitching dominates the day, but the homer by Jason Kubel is the story.
The Twins found a way to win again today, after spotting the opposition the lead one more time. Scott Baker had a long first inning but still managed to put a zero on the board, and he went on to duplicate that success for most of the game. In the second inning, Alex Rios allowed himself to get doubled off second base with a stupid move on a fly ball, and Nick Punto ended the inning with a nice stab and throw from third base. After that, Baker was nearly on cruise control. His breaking ball looked good today, lightyears better than it looked on Monday.
In the bottom of the fifth the White Sox got their run. Mark Teahen drove in A.J. Pierzynski, following a missed sliding catch in the outfield that allowed A.J. to take an extra base. But that's all she wrote.
While Baker largely looked like the ace tonight, Freddy Garcia's performance was better for most of the contest. For six innings he turned the Minnesota offense away, and it looked like one of those games where the guy who shouldn't beat you probably would. For six innings, it looked like the Twins were about to lay an egg on the scoreboard.
There are a few trends that have started this first week of baseball. They won't hold, but they are (in no particular order):
- The Twins spot the other team a run.
- The Twins score on homers.
- The Twins win.
In the top of the seventh, Jim Thome (who got a great standing ovation from the Chicago faithful on Friday night) drew a leadoff walk. Alexi Casilla took over at first to
pinch run leisurely jog around the bases. Jason Kubel followed Thome's walk with a lofted fly ball that cleared the fence, after Garcia layed one right in his wheel house. Kubel's first bomb of the season gave the Twins a 2-1 lead, and that's all they needed.
Jesse Crain picked up the final two outs of the eighth, cleaning up a walk by Jose Mijares, before Jon Rauch converted his fourth save opportunity. Rios nearly repaid his baserunning mistake by hitting a ball deep to center field, but it barely reached the warning track in the end.
Some people will start to wonder about the percentage of runs the Twins are scoring off homers, but you know what? It doesn't matter. As the season settles in and guys start experiencing more ups and downs, things will even out. All that matters today: putting another on in the win column.
#3: Jon Rauch (1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, S, .207 WPA)
#2: Jason Kubel (2-for-3, HR, 2B, BB, 2 RBI, R, .307 WPA)
#1: Scott Baker (7 IP, 5 H, 3 K, 1 BB, 1 R, .286 WPA)