The Minnesota Twins pounded out 16 hits to rake the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night at the Metrodome.
Joe Mauer had four hits to lead a balanced Twins attack. Four Twins were in double digits in hits and every Twin had at least one hit to chase Paul Maholm and seal the victory for Glen Perkins. Perkins came off the DL, shook off some rust and pitched six solid innings for just his second win of the season. The win brings the Twins back to .500 and just two games behind the Detroit Tigers for the AL Central lead after the Tigers got mauled by the Cardinals.
The Twins hit .500 on Tuesday but grounding into five double plays and also had a runner thrown out at home. The double plays were lipstick on Maholm's pig (5 IP 14H 8R 8ER 1BB 4 SO). The Twins were patient against this "crafty lefty" (read nibbler) and didn't try to do too much. Several hits were right up the middle, including three by Mauer and two by Delmon Young. The Twins also got a roof double off the bat of Joe Crede to pour salt in Maholm's wounds.
The story Tuesday was Mauer, who raised his average to .429 after going 7-9 in his last two games against tough lefties. Ted Lilly had held left handed hitters to a .206 BA before giving up three hits to Mauer on Sunday. And Maholm had held lefties to a .133 BA before giving up three hits to Mauer Tuesday. After a game like that, several questions in the post-game show revolved around the possibility of him hitting .400 on the year. It's a little premature for that kind of talk, but excitement for his season seems to grow with each passing game.
Mauer was not the only hitting star on Tuesday night. Michael Cuddyer smashed the first hit he saw to deep right center a foot to the right of being a home run. That showed how much better his finger feels after he got a cortisone shot on Sunday. Unfortunately on the play, Jason Kubel was waved home by Scott Ulger and thrown out at the plate. Delmon Young followed with a one-run single that might have been a two-run single if Ulger had held the slow-footed Kubel, Still, it took a perfect relay throw from Freddy Sanchez and a great plate block and tag by Jason Jaramillo to get Kubel on a bang-bang play at home.
Perkens pitched effectively down in the strike zone and mostly on the corners to keep the ball off the fat part of the bat. At times he got a little pumped and overthrew. But he was generally throwing in the high 80s and inducing easy grounders and lazy popups to go along with his four strikeouts. RA Dickey took over for him for two innings. His only difficulty came after a rare Mauer error allowed Craig Monroe to reach with two outs after a strikeout/wild pitch. But he got out of the inning unscathed. Jose Mijares pitched a scoreless ninth to nail down a comfortable win for the Twins.
1. Joe Mauer. This is starting to feel like 1977.
2. Glen Perkins: A game he can build on.
3. Delmon Young: I have to give Delmon some propers for making key adjustments that have led to four multihit games in the last week. He is taking more pitches. And when he swings, he's keeping his left shoulder in and his head down on the ball, lining it back up the middle. He's still striking out too much, but hopefully he can build off of these last week and get on a roll.
1. Paul Maholm. This guy is the Pirates ace?
2. Marvin Hudson: Another awful performance by the HP umpire. In one at bat with Cuddyer hitting, he called a strike on a ball that Jaramillo had to fully extend his arm to catch it was so far inside. That should have been ball four. Instead Maholm kept throwing it in there until Cuddyer struck out. But Hudson also called a lot of balls on pitches right down the heart of the plate by both pitchers.