Q: How do you score 14 runs and lose?
A: Allow 20.
While the second game of yesterday's duo was entertaining in the best way if you're a Twins fan, the first game was entertaining as it was frustrating. The Twins certainly teed off of Chicago's lack luster pitching and nonchalant defense, but our own pitching was pretty pathetic. In the end the results are what matter, and the results were tacking up two wins. It's a nice way to do a double-header.
Scott Baker, 5 IP, 9 H, 6 K, 1 BB, 7 R
After three consecutive starts in which he'd thrown 20 innings and allowed only four runs, Baker came into yesterday's opener with a lead already spotted him, and proceeded to serve up some pretty fat pitches. Scoreless first and fourth innings were wiped of meaning as the White Sox tallied three in the second, one in the third and put up another three spot in the fifth.
Minnesota's offense had blasted the White Sox from the game early on, turning Baker's focus from "meticulously attack each hitter in a specific manner" into "just throw strikes". Sadly, each focus drew the same results, as pitch after pitch was left right over the plate and Chicago had no choice but to knock Scott Baker all over the yard.
This was Baker's first bad start since June 15, so hopefully he'll be back on track next time.
Jason Bartlett, 12 AB, 4 H, 5 R, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 K
While he's not where most of us thought he could be at this point in the season, Jason's current .258/.340/.327 line is much better than it was about a month ago, when it had sunk to .229/.323/.289. He's taking much better at-bats, and seems to enjoy hitting second in the batting order. As the guy in the two-hole, Bartlett is hitting .315/.390/.438. While I don't believe that where a player hits will have too much of an effect on his line, I wouldn't mess with success. Little things can change a mindset, and Bartlett seems to be stepping in with more confidence.
Or maybe when he steps in, I just have more confidence in him.
Michael Cuddyer, 10 AB, 2 H, 3 R, 1 HR, 1 BB, 0 K
Looking at those numbers from yesterday's games, you aren't getting the whole picture. Cuddles had a number of solid plate appearances (check out the zero strikeouts) where he knocked the poop out of the ball (yes, I said poop). A couple of hard liners in game one and a couple of smashed grounders that couldn't find a hole, and instead of being 5-for-10 with a homer and a couple doubles, Cuddyer's line looks pretty weak when compared to the rest of the big boys.
If you didn't see his home run, it was actually kind of humorous. He hacked at an outside pitch, and didn't have much of an uppercut on the swing. His swing was awkward enough that he took a step over the plate and stumbled, but he didn't continue on his way to first base for just a split second. Watching at home it didn't look to me like the ball was going anywhere but lined foul, and I think Cuddyer thought the same thing...until it fell over the right field fence near the foul pole. Really, with the bad luck he'd had yesterday, he deserved something to go his way.
Jason Kubel, 7 AB, 4 H, 2 R, 7 RBI, 2 BB, 0 K
A Long Time Ago, In A Galaxy Far, Far Away...The Young One, Donned In White With the Helmet of a Warrior. His grand slam in game one was the second of his career, and although I wasn't there to see it in person this time, I'm hoping it can once again be the metaphorical spark the Twins need to seperate themselves from mediocrity.
This was a good series for Jason, whose line now reads .255/.307/.413. He still has a long way to go, but he looked good on Friday, and I'll cross my fingers that it's just a sign of good things to come.
Matt Garza, 6 IP, 5 H, 6 K, 3 BB, 0 R
So, Matt Garza has a nice curveball. He mixed it with his 96/97 mph fastball to completely neutralize Chicago's batting order in the nightcap. While he did leave some of the breaking balls up, it seemed like the White Sox were too busy looking for the fastball to take advantage. Garza threw 99 pitches on Friday, most of them fastballs and 12-6 curves.
If he can keep that breaking ball down, it could be the offspeed pitch he needs to be a complete pitcher. While it will be necessary to throw some sort of a change, an effective curve will go a long way. Congratulations on a great start, Matt!
Torii Hunter, 7 AB, 5 H, 5 R, 2 HR, 2 2B, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K
Did you ever notice how Torii hates it when Morneau goes yard? Okay, not hates, but doesn't like to let Justin show him up? When Morneau goes deep and Hunter hits behind him, watch Torii at the plate. He wants to go back-to-back.
On Friday, Torii belted two bombs; one in the afternoon and one in the evening. As a whole it was one hell of a Friday for Hunter, as any ball he hit seemed to be hit squarely and hit hard. While his average raised nine points (to .304), his OPS went up 41 points, to .914. That's astounding. There should be no doubt that Hunter comes to play against the White Sox.
Justin Morneau, 10 AB, 6 H, 6 R, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 1 BB, 0 K
Justin's first game was okay, I guess. He was 3-for-5, scored three times, knocked in three himself...pretty okay.
His SECOND game...now THAT was a SHOW. Not one, not TWO, but THREE HOME RUNS! His shots rained on the outfield seats; one in right, one in center and one in left field. I know for certain that he hit his second shot right to a Twins fan. Good aim, eh.
Being the first Twin in 34 years to skyjack three in the same game, Morneau also set a personal milestone Friday night as first homer was the 100th of his career. Congratulations, Justin, here's toasting to another 300.
Two Quick Notes...
Nick Punto was 3-for-9 in yesterday's double-header, with two walks. That's a good performance I'll take between any two games for Punto, but take a look at just how different things looked for him last year.
And finaly...One Year Ago Today.