Ah, NBA Jam...HE'S HEATING UP...HE'S ON FIRE!!!
Question of the Month: How many grand slams can we hit in June?
Justin Morneau continued his torrid week, continuing to bash longballs and knock in runs like he's never done before at the Major League level. Tonight he launched yet another Minnesota Grand Slam, putting the Twins up 8-1. While it wasn't as exhilarating at Kubel's walk-off Tuesday night, it's still a Grand Slam. Tune in tomorrow to see who completes the sweep of the Red Sox with another grand slam.
In the month of April, Morneau was one source of any number of criticisms as he "hit" well enough to be dropped to 7th in the order. Come May, as his line improved dramatically across the board, he began to inch his way back up the rung of the lineup. Now, tearing the cover off the ball in June, he's been holding down the 5-hole over the last handful of games, and he's succeeded at levels unprecedented by Justin at any point in his MLB career.
Month AB H BB SO AVG OBP SLG
April 77 16 6 22 .208 .274 .416
May 95 26 8 15 .274 .333 .505
June 45 16 4 9 .356 .400 .733
Halfway through June, Morneau has matched his hit totals for all of April. In May, Justin reached base 13 times more than he did in April. Note the improvement of the walk:strikeout ratio. I don't expect Morneau to slug .733 the entire month, but it's beginning to appear that something has finally clicked for Justin. When he hit the walk-off homer a few days back, I mentioned here how his eyes lit up as he recognized the pitch. It's still too early to say for certain that this is the Morneau that's here to stay, but it's looking to be the case more every day.
On the season, Justin Morneau is how hitting .267/.326/.521, with 15 homers, 51 RBI, 10 doubles and yes, a stolen base. Over the last 5 games, he's 12-for-21, good for a .571/.625/1.238 line. Yes, the 1.238 is his slugging percentage, not his OPS. This streak includes 4 homers, 13 RBI and 26 total bases.
Justin Go Boom
Somehow, Radke managed to miss the rotation annihilation that swept through the starting five in May, and has put together a string of 3 quality starts in his last 4; even the fourth start wasn't too shabby. That ghastly ERA is slowly coming down...
Date IP H ER K BB HR ERA (running)
May 29 6.0 7 2 4 3 0 7.01
June 3 7.0 8 1 1 2 0 6.42
June 9 5.2 7 2 2 3 0 6.17
June 14 6.0 5 1 3 2 1 5.83
Totals 24.2 27 6 10 10 1 2.19
Radke's troubles are far from solved. He's still not hitting his spots as consistently as he has in the past, as evidenced by his uncharictaristically high walk totals. His pitch counts have risen as a result, and while he's still hitting pitch counts in the upper 90's and lower 100's, the pitches aren't getting him as far. Over these starts he's averaged 103 pitches, and when it's taking you nearly 17 pitches to get out of an inning, you're walking a tightrope of success.
It's come up time and again throughout the bloggosphere that Radke may be either hiding or is ignoring/unaware of an ailment in his arm. Personally, I have no evidence for this, other than the fact that Radke has been rendered (until these last few starts) ineffective. If I had tape to review from Radke's past I'd be looking for something, but even the internet has limitations on what you can search for.
Having mentioned Radke's tightrope of success and the speculation of arm issues, he deserves acknowledgement of what he's accomplished over the last 2 1/2 weeks. I'm a bit wary of optimism at this point, but Radke has been my favorite Twin for 10 years, and it's hard for me not to glance at the lines of his last four starts with a sense of hope. Here's hoping.
The Ice King
Nice Tackle, Nate
Red Sox batboy Nate Reese took down one of two fans who stormed the field late in the game. Included in the ruckus was a high-five for Torii Hunter from one of the men, a slide into home, and finally a perfect take down by Reese. He stated there weren't any guards near the field-storming fan, and decided to take matters into his own hands as he saw the man rounding third. (If anyone has pictures of this, please share!) Congratulations on a nice tackle, Nate!