This one got out of hand in a hurry.
Even players having good years have bad days, and Colby Lewis had one this afternoon. Two walks, a single, a phantom hit-by-pitch (nice sell, Jason Repko), a big-time ground-rule double from J.J. Hardy and a triple by Matt Tolbert netted the Twins a 5-0 lead by the time the first inning was in the books. It wouldn't get any easier for the Rangers.
Lewis continually missed his spots and the Twins continually knocked the snot out of the ball, even when it went for an out. Jim Thome, who was 4-for-6 with a homer against Lewis in his career, demolished a 3-2 fastball into right-center field for his 19th homer of the year, leading off the third. In the fourth Thome would own Lewis again, this time dropping one over the fence in left field for a three-run blast. Thome's 20th made it 9-0 Twins, and the game was essentially over. The bomb chased Lewis, who will be having nightmares about Thome indefinitely.
At this point Carl Pavano, who was just one batter over the minimum through four innings, began to just throw strikes. The Rangers would fight back for a trio of runs over the next two innings, but they wouldn't get any closer than 9-3.
Matt Tolbert tripled AGAIN in the seventh (this is what happens when outfielders play you like you're known to have as much power as a 12-year old and you hit one into the gap), scoring two more. He would score on a wild pitch from Rich Harden, and that finished the scoring for the Twins.
Pavano was strong all afternoon, even when he was being aggressive against some dangerous Texas hitters, and finished the day with eight innings of three-run baseball. 16 of his 22 outs on balls-in-play were grounders, continuing a trend which has been one of the many reasons for his success this season.
This was a huge win for the Twins. They took care of business, demolished a very good baseball team, and now have an opportunity to sweep that very good baseball team tomorrow afternoon. Meanwhile, if Boston plays their part tonight, Minnesota could put another half game between themselves and the White Sox, who this afternoon won the first game of the double-header in Boston.
Notes, studs and duds after the jump.
- Denard Span is one of the best leadoff men in baseball...while playing at home. He was on base three times in five plate appearances tonight: two hits and a walk.
- Thome was 2-for-2 with a pair of homers and a pair of walks. Lost in all of the passing-Mark-douche-McGwire-on-the-all-time-home-run-list talk was the fact that Thome's two walks helped him pass Frank Thomas for ninth all-time on that list (Jimmer now has 1668 walks). He won't pass Mel Ott (1708 walks) this season, but if he decides to play in 2011 he'll have a legitimate chance to pass both Ott and Mickey Mantle (1733 walks). That would make Thome seventh, which is probably the best he could hope for. Unless he plays well into his 40s, Thome won't catch Carl Yastrzemski for sixth place (1845 walks).
- Going on about lists, and going back to talking about homers, Thome now has 584 career sky jacks (up yours, McGwire). He's two behind Frank Robinson, who Thome will likely pass this season for eighth place. After that it's actually Alex Rodriguez at 604, who Thome will never pass, and Sammy Sosa at 609. If Thome plays next year, stays relatively healthy and is relatively productive, he could pass Sosa for seventh in all-time home runs. Ken Griffey Jr, at 630, is out of reach...unless, as I said about walks, Thome plays well into his 40s.
- For the record: I LOVE WATCHING JIM JAM MASH TATERS. Apparently Thome hasn't heard that you're not supposed to mess with Texas.
- J.J. Hardy is hot again. He's 4-for-7 in the series after a three-hit afternoon, and has driven in four very important runs in the last three games. Hardy has been very streaky at the plate this season, but it would be good to see him get hot again down the stretch. Of course, if he wants to save it for October, I'd be okay with that, too.
- Danny Valencia had the afternoon off. The Twins were simply being cautious with that tightness in his hamstring. Turns out they didn't miss him at all--Tolbert was more than acceptable in his glove work at the hot corner, and considering his two triples and five RBI I'm fairly certain his bat was more than acceptable as well.
- Ian Kinsler finished Rob Delaney's first battle with a home run to lead off the ninth inning. Delaney then allowed a walk and a single before inducing two groundouts, the second of which was a double play. Not a good inning, but at least Delaney got his feet wet and the Twins were able to get in some well-needed rest for the more critical bullpen arms. Crain and Guerrier, for example, each have had the last two nights off. Hopefully this trend will continue tomorrow.
- Yankee fans must HATE Carl Pavano. I love him. And I don't care who knows.
Jim Thome - 2 HR
Carl Pavano - 8 IP, 3 R
Matt Tolbert - 2 3B, 5 RBI
Denard Span - 2 H, 1 BB, nice catch
Delmon Young - 0-for-4, did not look good at the plate
Jason Repko - 0-for-3, looked even worse
Colby Lewis - Sometimes you're the bat...