Two things stick out to me from what I said about the pitchers in the pre-game. I said that Target Field should be a bit friendlier to Scott Baker and that he should keep the Athletics to less than two home runs. I was wrong. I also said that to be effective, Brandon McCarthy would need to duplicate the kind of command that he had in his first start. On this point, I was right. And both points played against the Twins.
McCarthy allowed nine hits over seven and a third innings, but two of those came in that eighth inning of work. He didn't walk anyone, he kept nearly three quarters of plate appearances to four pitches or fewer, allowed just one three-ball count, and he picked up quite a few chasing swings. At this point it's starting to look like the Twins are pressing and McCarthy used their aggressiveness against them.
That aggressiveness was personified in the fifth, when with one out Danny Valencia laced a single into right field. Jason Kubel, who led off the inning with a ground rule double, wasn't nearly fast enough to score on the play. I think that surprised Danny, because he rounded second expecting a relay to home. Instead, Daric Barton cut off the throw and Valencia was hung out to dry. Runners on the corners with one out turned into a runner on third with two away, and Alexi Casilla couldn't pick up the run.
Baker's day wasn't terrible early. Hideki Matsui's solo home led off the fourth, but going into the sixth inning he was keeping his anemic offense right in the thick of it. But Josh Wilingham led off the sixth with another solo shot, and two hits and no outs later Baker was lifted for Jeff Manship. Manship couldn't stop the bleeding however, allowing both of Baker's runs to cross the plate. Glen Perkins picked up the final two outs of the frame.
Minnesota finally showed signs of life in the eighth, culminating in one must be one of the biggest home runs I've ever seen. After a one-out single from Denard Span and a double from Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau grounded out to put the Twins on the board.
Jim Thome followed that up by sending a Jeremy Blevins fastball supernova.
But the Twins went quietly in the ninth, one-two-three, and that was the end of yet another miserable offensive series. In nine games the Twins have now scored a total of 24 runs, which is a pathetic number. It's too early to hit the panic button, and it's too early to start asking what's wrong or to think about alternative options or changing the batting order, but frustration? Frustration is certainly in play. I think frustration is probably the undercurrent to a few of those offensive struggles we're seeing right now.
The Twins are off tomorrow and back for a pair of games against the Royals at home on Tuesday and Wednesday. If you're going to the games, I wrote the Dugout Splinters for the Twins. Just sayin'. Check it out.