Twins continue to stumble on the road, losing their fifth straight.
In a study in contrasts on the mound, Mark Buehrle's White Sox cruised past Scott Balker and the Twins on Tuesday night at Cingular Field. Buehrle worked quickly and efficiently, busting hitters in with cutters and finishing them off away with change-ups to record out after feeble out for seven innings of near dominance.
Baker seemed to lack energy--similar to his rotation mate Glen Perkins on Monday in the Bronx--working slowly, keeping the ball away from hitters who like it away and failing to finish off his pitches. The Sox hitters looked very comfortable at the plate as Mike Redmond did not move inside all night to encourage his battery mates to bust the free swinging Sox inside. The result was predictable: Though Sox hitters just missed numerous belt-high straight fastballs and hanging sliders, they did not miss them all. Paul Konerko's two-run homer in the second looked like batting practice. Even the outs were hard hit.
Baker was fortunate to escape his five-inning, 105-pitch outing surrendering just four runs. After a 44-pitch three-run second, Rick Anderson confronted Baker in the dugout and gave him a tongue lashing the likes of which we haven't seen around here. Baker seemed to respond to the critique, pitching three effective innings and allowing just one run on a solo home run to Germain Dye.
By then the damage was done and the Twins had an up-hill climb against the efficient Buehrle. Still, they battled back, scoring single runs in the sixth--on Joe Mauer's seventh home run in just 17 games--and seventh. But the Pale Hoser's bullpen shut the door, and the Sox tacked on a couple of runs off new Twin Sean Henn to make it a comfortable 6-2 victory.
1. Joe Mauer: Beuhrle kept painting the outside corner with his fastball for two strikeouts. The third time he tried it, Joe took him deep to left.
2. Michael Cuddyer: Nice bounce-back game for Cuddyer after a horrendous series in the New York. Cuddy went 2-4 with a double and a run scored.
3. Denard Span: He too had a nice bounce-back game, going 2-3 with a walk and making some nice plays in left field.
1.Scott Baker: We need more fire out of our ace. He was tentative out there, leaving everything up and out over the plate without any life on it. He couldn't throw a curve for a strike to save his life. To his credit, he took his whooping by Anderson after the 44-pitch, three-run second and made the adjustments, finishing his pitches in his last three innings and getting outs. Hopefully he can build on that.
2. Mike Redmond: This White Sox team is notorious for leaning out and swinging hard on balls out over the outside part of the plate. The way to pitch them is hard in. Redmond consistently sat low and away. When Baker missed, he missed over the plate. Also, what's with calling a 3-2 curve ball from Sean Henn to Jim Thome with two outs and two on in the seventh? The guy has a great fastball and a so-so curve. Call his best pitch in on the hands. Also, Redmond felt compelled to increase the Twins streak of games in which they make an out on the bases.
3. Brendan Harris: Once again the second spot in the order is the albatross around the Twins necks. Harris went 0-4 with two GIDP. He also showed stump-like range on Jim Thome's single through the shift in the second, which was followed by Konerko's home run.