After how disappointing the Twins were at the start of the season, I'm not taking anything for granted. This was a great win and a great showing for the Twins, and it's exciting.
Last night, Boof Bonser was in control. His breaking ball broke, and helped set up his 93-94mph fastball. While he got himself into trouble a couple of times, until the sixth inning when he was removed in favor of Neshek, he worked his way out of it. Not once did I get the impression that he was losing his control over the pace or course of the game, and it was just what the doctor ordered for a team desperate for a pitcher to fill out an ever-changing rotation.
Bonser's curve has been referred to as his "out-pitch", and after seeing the way he was able to control it Friday (for the most part), I have to agree. It doesn't arch as much as it has a sharp, tight break, that makes it difficult for hitters to put good wood on when it's thrown well. While he didn't last through the sixth inning, he was deep enough into the game where our talented bullpen had no problem in wrapping up the final 3.2 innings. Ron Gardenhire agrees.
A lot of Twins had good games Friday night. Torii Hunter was 2-for-3 with a double, homer, a walk and two runs scored. The double and homer were both hit hard, and in his first at-bat (when he was retired on strikes) he worked a full count and laced a ball that could have been at least a double down the left field line. It curved foul.
His day at the dish more than made up for his night in the field. He's clearly not running full speed and it's having an adverse effect on his range. I was watching on television, so I can't say where Torii was originally positioned on the ball he dove for and missed. Still, I can't help but think that a healthy Torii Hunter makes that diving catch instead of missing by 6 inches. Then again, he was probably shading Thome into right field, making the fact that he was even able to get near the line-drive in left-center a remarkable feat.
One thing you are guaranteed with Hunter is full effort, no matter what his situation. Even with a foot that would be better off not being played on, he's gunning for balls as fast as his affected gate will allow him, and he's still giving up his body for the play. Hunter isn't old; he's 31. A healthy Hunter could still patrol center field. This Torii needs some days being a designated hitter if not getting a chunk of days off...and the chunk of days off is simply out of the question for a team in the midst of a playoff push. Especially for a hitter like Hunter, when the Twins need all the offensive punch they can muster.
Hunter also had good things to say about The Boofster:
Speaking of in the field, Jason Bartlett continues to impress with his range and slick glove. Oh yeah, he impresses with his bat, too. For more on our best shortstop since Greg Gagne, check out what TG has to say.
All-in-all, it was a great team effort. As a whole, from defense to offense to pitching, the Twins turned in a performance deserving of all the praise they receive. In front of over 43,000 fans, the Twins put on a playoff-caliber game, coming up with pitches when they needed to be made; hits when the team needed runs; great glove work when the game needed to be put away.
Last night, we made a real bid at becoming the team we want to be in October, and it should continue tonight. If I had to give "Stars of the Game" to anyone, it would be these guys:
Boof Bonser Justin Morneau
Torii Hunter Jason Bartlett
Pat Neshek Nick Punto
Jesse Crain Michael Cuddyer
Luis Castillo Jason Tyner
That's only twelve. Hmm...I wonder if this is a team game.