Everybody but Punto had a good game
The Minnesota Twins got out there frustrations on the Chicago White Sox after a six-game losing streak to hammer the Sox 20-1 in Cingular field. Joe Mauer had a grand slam and 6 RBI to lead the attack, with Jason Kubel, Michael Cuddyer, Matt Tolbert and Jose Morales each collecting at least three hits. Cuddyer, Joe Crede and Tolbert hit homers to pile it on the Pale Hosers. Cuddyer went 4-6 with four runs scored and 3 RBI.
Lost in the offensive fire power was a gem by Nick Blackburn, who needed just 82 pitches to get through seven shutout innings. As usual, Blackburn pitched to contact, coaxing many ground outs on short at bats. Jose Mijares gave up the only (unearned) run for the Twins. And Joe Nathan finished up to get some work in.
In desperate need of a pick-me up after losing six straight by a combined 11 runs, the Twins got what they needed. They did everything in this game that they failed to do in the previous six: getting big hits with runners in scoring position, taking advantage of opposing team's errors, and pitching effectively with the lead.
The Twins return home after a road trip in which they were +8 in total runs scored and 1-6 where it really counts. They also managed to fall six games behind the division-leading Tigers on the trip, with whom they were tied when they left the sterile confines of the Giant Clean Room. If the Twins can take some of those good swings into the Metrodome against the Brewers and Red Sox, perhaps they can regain some ground in the division. First and foremost, get back to .500, which will take four more wins than losses at this point (19-23).
1. Joe Mauer: Mauer was on fire, going 3-4 with a double, a grand slam homer, and six RBI. His only out was a shot to the wall. I think he should be the number 2 hitter from now on.
2. Michael Cuddyer: Cuddy was really locked in today, hitting everything on a line, including his outs. He went 4-6 with a double, a three-run homer, and four runs scored.
3. Nick Blackburn: He never let the Sox get comfortable, pitching several 1-2-3 innings and working out of trouble when he needed to. He only needed 82 pitches to go 7 shutout innings with only 7 base runners allowed.
4. Jose Morales: In his last game with the Twins for a while, Morales caught a great game and hit even better, going 3-4 with two walks, 3 runs and two RBI. His only out was a ball Jermaine Dye caught against the wall in right field. On any other day in any other field, that was a homer. But the wind was blowing in from right and knocked that ball down.
5. Matt Tolbert: Tolbert broke out in a big way going 3-6 with 2 runs, his first homer and 4 RBI. His only blemish was a throwing error that led to the Sox only run in the eighth.
1. Nick Punto. In the midst of all the hitting, Punto went 0-5 with three strikeouts and 4 LOB to lower his line to .193/.295/.211 on the year. On two of the strikeouts, he swung at three pitches out of the zone and sat down. Actually, on one, he lost track of the count until the ump told him to go grab some bench. Shades of July 2007, when the Twins scored more than 30 runs in a double header and Punto went 1-13 with six strikeouts.