MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JUNE 11: Scott Baker #30 of the Minnesota Twins pitches against the Texas Rangers during the first inning of their game on June 11, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Scott Baker looked sharp for a vast majority of today's game, and it started early. He sent the Rangers down in order in the top of the first, finishing the frame with four consecutive fastballs that had so much movement that pitchfx classified them as sinkers. I noted it in the game thread and I know other people noticed it to, but Baker's fastball had outstanding movement today.
His offense would give him all the support he needed and more. Ben Revere led off the Minnesota first with a single, and a hit-and-run was called as Alexi Casilla also singled which moved Revere to third. Michael Cuddyer's sacrifice fly scored Revere to give the Twins a 1-0 lead. It was a lead they'd never relinquish.
Casilla would score following a Delmon Young single and a Colby Lewis wild pitch. Rene Tosoni walked on four pitches, and Danny Valencia showed a good eye and good patience with a pitcher losing command to work a walk on five pitches. Brian Dinkelman's liner into right-center field scored two, and two batters later Matt Tolbert singled to plate the fifth and final run of the inning. Minnesota led 5-0 after the first innning.
Casilla led off the bottom of the second with a double over Nelson Cruz's head, stole third base and then scored on another single from Young. That was it for Lewis, who was charged with six runs on seven hits and two walks in just 1.1 innings. He threw 52 pitches, just 31 for strikes, and every strike he threw seemed to be right down the middle of the plate. Lewis is better than he was today, and better that he was when he was shelled by Detroit in his previous start, but his last two outings are ones the Rangers would rather forget.
In his place, Dave Bush pitched well. Over 4.2 innings he'd strike out five and didn't allow a walk, and the hot-swinging Twins managed just two runs.
In the bottom of the fourth Revere led off with another single, stole second and scored on Casilla's single. Bush would come out for the bottom of the seventh but was replaced after Young's leadoff double, yet Cuddyer's double meant Bush was charged with Young's run.
Meanwhile, Baker was on cruise control. Rangers hitters would step into the box and player after player took gargantuan cuts at Baker's fastballs, but they could never get hold of one. 84 of Baker's 112 pitches on the night were fastballs, yet right handers were just 2-for-15 and left handers were just 1-for-10 on balls in play.
To give you an idea of just how lights-out Baker was early: he took a perfect game into the fifth inning. Adrian Beltre led off the frame with a double, but Baker would bounce right back. Cruz and Mitch Moreland went down swinging before Mike Napoli flew out.
Texas was turned away 1-2-3 again the sixth and seventh, but by the eighth inning Baker was a little gassed and it showed. The Rangers began to catch up with him in the last two innings. Back-to-back two-out singles in the eighth scored the only run Baker allowed, and they would put runners on the corners with one away in the ninth. But Baker chose that moment to induce his one double play of the game, and he finished the game strong.
- Revere made two great catches today. It was his Superman-style catch in the top of the third inning that brought fans to their feet. David Murphy charged a liner deep into the left-center field gap. Revere, at a full sprint, went completely horizontal for the grab. If you haven't seen it yet, here's the highlight video. You can also watch it on our Facebook page.
- Inside Edge loved Baker's performance today, giving him an A in 17 of the 24 pitcher sub-categories.
- Cuddyer continues his slow and steady climb, and with two hits today now has a triple slash of .271/.332/.418.
- Similarly with Young, who while we still won't bring up his horrendous triple slash, has hit .350 over his last ten games.
- Dinkelman's two-run single in the bottom of the first were his first two RBI of his Major League career. Congrats to Brian Dinkelman!
- Since his recall in early June, Revere had put together a seven-game hitting streak before picking up back-to-back 0-fers on Thursday and Friday. His two hits today mean he is 13-for-44 (.295) in his second stint with the team in 2011.
- Rene Tosoni hit fifth today. I know Gardy has been tough on Valencia this year, and one-pitch at-bats won't help his cause, but batting a guy like Tosoni fifth and Valencia sixth is one of two things. It's either a message to Valencia, or it's simply an indictment of the choices Gardy has for the bottom half of his lineup card.
Scott Baker: 9 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 7 K, 0 BB
Ben Revere: 2 H, 2 R, SB, 2 nice defensive plays
Alexi Casilla: 3 H (2B), 2 R, RBI, SB
Michael Cuddyer: 2 H (2B), R, RBI
Delmon Young: 3 H (2B), R, 2 RBI