The ball really carries in Chicago during the middle of the summer. Tonight at iPhone HDTV Ballpark, the Twins hit five (non) consecutive home runs in a 12-6 victory to put the Twins back in first place in the AL Central Division, a game up on the White Sox. Chicago starter Freddy Garcia has relied heavily on his changeup and slider to get him this far into the season. But tonight, in his fourth start against Minnesota, the Twins batters sat on Garcia's off-speed stuff and knocked him out in the third inning. All nine Twins starters had at least one base hit, and home runs from Jim Thome, J.J. Hardy, Joe Mauer, Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel were the difference. Scott Baker had good stuff tonight, but he ended up giving up five runs (four earned) in six innings, so no good feelings for Timmy despite the victory.
I'll go into three key moments, as well as studs and duds after the jump.
Moment the First
Coming into the second inning, the Twins were up 1-0. After home runs by Jim Thome and J.J. Hardy, the lead was 3-0 Twins. Denard Span singled to center and Orlando Hudson flew out, bringing up Joe Mauer with two outs. Mauer jumped all over a first pitch fastball up and in from Freddy (Sweaty) Garcia to put the Twins up 5-0. Against a team with the kind of power of the White Sox, there's a big difference between a three and five run lead.
Moment the Second
In the bottom of the second inning, down five runs, Paul Konerko and Alexei Ramirez singled to put two runners on base with one out for Carlos Quentin. This is where I have to disagree with the pitch selection between Baker and Mauer. Baker started the at bat with a slider on the outside corner and an outside changeup that Quentin fouled off. Up in the count 0-2 against Quentin, a batter who crowds the plate and has a hole in his swing against fastballs up and inside, Baker went with a fastball off the outside corner, which Quentin smashed the other way to pull the White Sox to within 5-3.
Moment the Third
Up 6-3 in the top of the fourth, the Twins started with a Hudson strikeout and Mauer fly out. Delmon Young doubled down the left field line, and Tony Pena intentionally walked Jason Kubel to bring up Michael Cuddyer. Back in the first inning, the White Sox pitched around Kubel to get to Cuddyer, who popped out weakly to second base. This time around, Cuddyer got his revenge with a line drive down the right field line to score two runs and again put the Twins up by five, 8-3.
After this point, Baker was solid until the sixth, when he gave up a couple more runs, but 2-run home runs by Cuddyer and Kubel put the game away.
- Jason Kubel: 2-2, 4 R, 2 RBI, HR, 3 BB. Five plate appearances, Kubel didn't make a single out and scored four times.
- Joe Mauer: 3-5, 2 R, 3 RBI, HR. Don't look now, but Joe is now batting .325, I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up in the batting title chase come September.
- Michael Cuddyer: 2-5, 4 RBI, HR. He didn't look very comfortable during his first couple at bats, but he had the two biggest hits of the game.
- Matt Guerrier: 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R. Two perfect innings from Guerrier. Hopefully this will get him back on track.
With the 12-6 victory, I can't give any Twin "dud" status. Baker gave up five runs in six innings, but in general he was sharp and efficient. I'd give a "dud" to Ozzie Guillen just for his reactions to the Juan Pierre pickoff, Mauer home run, etc. Every time the FSN camera cut to Ozzie, there wasn't a pitching coach or another member of the team sitting anywhere near him.