Just look at the very last line of yesterday’s post. In short, it said because the opposing pitcher the Twins were going to face had such good numbers, it means Minnesota will win (they faced 4 Cy Young winners in 5 games and won all of them). Well, they won, and Kevin Slowey looked like a future Cy Young winner, throwing a 109-pitch complete game shutout. He only allowed three hits, one of them a double, but struck out 8 and walked none. In fact, in Slowey’s last 4 starts he has a 0.93 ERA; that’s 3 earned runs in 29 innings pitched.
Offensively the Twins had a pretty good night, tallying 5 runs and also getting a team cycle. Joe Mauer and Alexi Casilla each had doubles (although it looked like Casilla’s should have been ruled an error), Carlos Gomez hustled for his 4th triple of the year, and Delmon Young hit his first homer in the Metrodome as a Twin. Mauer, standing on second, would score on a two-out single by Jason Kubel. Casilla’s double with two outs drove in a run. Gomez’s triple that scored Brian Buscher came with two outs in the inning. Delmon’s golf swing drove in two with two outs in the 6th.
Do you notice the pattern? Every single run the team scored came with two outs in the inning. The Twins are first in all of baseball with a ridiculous .312 batting average with runners in scoring position. Change that situation into runners in scoring position with two outs and the Twins still sit in second place, hitting at a .277 clip in such spots, still .013 better than the third place team. In close and late situations (defined as the 7th inning or later, with the batting team down by run one, or tied, or at least with the potential tying run in the on-deck circle) they are tied for first in both leagues with the Yankees, at .281. These stats are the reason the team has won 3 games more than its runs scored and runs against suggest it should have, and also why the Twins are just 1.5 games behind the White Sox at the start of July.
As fun as it has been to watch the team play so well, the next games will be a true determiner of what we’re made of. And when I say “the next games”, I mean the entire month of July. 6 games at home against Detroit and Cleveland and then 7 games on the road against Boston and Detroit. The All-Star Break gives us 4 days off and then the team comes home for 3 games against Texas. A 6-game road trip follows with stops in New York to play the Yankees and Ohio to play the Indians. The month ends with a 4-game series against the White Sox, played in the Dome. A total of 26 games will be played; I would consider winning 15 or more of those games a success. Does anybody agree? Maybe disagree? Please let me know in the comments section.
Michael Cuddyer has gone to the DL with another finger injury, but it’s not the same one that bothered him earlier in the year. Denard Span has come up to replace him and, with interleague play over, I expect Span to get the brunt of starts in right while Kubel slides back into the DH spot. I also expect Buscher to continue starting at third, at this point he pretty much has to play his way out of that spot.
Glen Perkins pitches tonight to start the Tigers-Twins series, the game will start at 7:10.