Glen Perkins turns in third quality starts in as many appearances.
Following a game which made absolutely no sense, if only because it's baseball and crazy things happen from time to time, Tuesday night's game was an all too simple exhibition in what can happen when things go right. And also how things get easier when the opposing pitcher shoots his own team in the foot. While the Twins didn't hit a home run, they did finally manage to roll up some extra-base hits.
Ron Gardenhire filled out a lineup with speed at the top, and it delivered immediate dividends. Carlos Gomez, using none of the patience we've begged for on this site, took Doug Mathis' first pitch and slapped it into right field. With just enough of a bounce for an extra second on the basepaths, Gomez was in with his third triple of the year. Alexi Casilla, batting second, followed with a bouncing ball to shortstop. Gomez advanced and scored, but a bad throw by Michael Young pulled Chris Shelton off the bag and Casilla (who might have been safe anyway) was awarded with a hit. Following a double by Joe Mauer, Cuddyer hit a ground ball up the middle. Jarrod Saltalamacchia tagged Casilla out at the plate, but as Cuddyer tried to take second he biffed the relay. Mauer came in from third to give the Twins a 2-0 lead. A diving stop on a hard-hit ball by Delmon Young retired the Twins in the first.
It was the third inning that did in Mathis and the Rangers. Casilla led off with a single, then Mauer singled as Casilla advanced to third, then Morneau singled to score Casilla. Cuddyer slapped a dribbler into the right field corner for a double, scoring Mauer. Jason Kubel walked, Young reached on an error that scored Morneau, Mike Lamb pulled a line-drive single to left field to score Cuddyer. Seven consecutive men reached base for the Twins in the third. But it wasn't over.
Adam Everett grounded into a force out (Lamb at second), but Kubel crossed the plate. Back at the top of the order, Mathis walked Gomez on five pitches and was lifted from the game. Franklyn German came on in relief and walked Casilla on four pitches, walking in Young. Finally, Everett scored on a Mauer line-drive out to center field, which capped the scoring for the Twins. A 7-run inning made it 9-0 after three.
As effective as the offense was last night, Glen Perkins was just as sharp. Through six innings he allowed three hits and no runs, and kept the Ranger offense off kilter by throwing his off-speed and breaking balls with regularity the first time through the order. Following the explosion of the third inning he changed tactics and became aggressive in the fourth and fifth, throwing fastballs more often, encouraging the Texas hitters to make contact and get themselves out. As the top of the order came around again in the sixth he mixed it up again, and retired the side in order. Great pitching is a work of art, and Glen turned in one hell of a performance on Tuesday. He may not be over-powering, but his accuracy and command of his breaking balls and plus changeup make his 92 mph fastball look good.
In the seventh, Perkins got into trouble. After popping up Shelton for the first out and the bases loaded, Texas finally got on the board with a Saltalamacchia single. German Duran singled on the very next pitch to make it 9-2, and that was the end for the hometown southpaw. Perkins left the field to a well deserved standing ovation, with a final line that included a pair of earned runs, a trio of strikeouts, no walks and no home runs allowed.
In the bottom of the seventh the Twins tagged on two more in rapid succession. Kubel led off with a double, Young tripled into the right-center field gap, and Lamb scored Young on a sacrifice fly.
That was a fun game to watch; high-scoring affairs always are. At least when it's your team laying on the thump. With Tuedsay's win the Twins are back above evens, at 23-22. Chicago leads the second-place Twins by a game and a half.