I first want to point out that I made a mistake in my last post, erroneously saying Greg Maddux was a left-handed pitcher, but Nick Nelson was kind enough to remind me that Mad Dog is actually a righty.
My prediction of a low-scoring game didn’t exactly come true, with the Twins scoring nine runs, seven of those against Maddux (only six earned). Glen Perkins allowed three runs in just five innings of work, but he pitched well enough to get his fourth win of the season. It took him 91 pitches, with only 58 of those going in for strikes. He gave up four singles, a double, and a triple, and he also had two walks. But he fanned two batters as well, and Alexi Casilla had a great fielding play in the 5th inning to help out Perk a little bit.
Speaking of Casilla, he was 1-for-3 with a walk, an RBI, and a run scored. Carlos Gomez, batting one spot ahead of Alexi, collected three singles and two RBI, coming on a key single with runners on second and third in the 6th inning. Gomez also stole two bags, giving him a total of 20 SBs on the year. That number is slightly misleading though, because when you factor in his 8 CS, the 20 steals gets toned down a bit.
Brendan Harris and Brian Buscher both contributed immensely, again. Harris’ two-run homer in the 4th inning broke a 3-3 tie while Buscher scored three times on a single and two walks. In 12 games that Buscher has now played in this year for the Twins, he’s got 15 hits, 13 RBI, and 10 runs scored. While his .375/.400/.500 hitting line is most likely not sustainable, he has come up with some very timely hits when the team needs them the most.
The middle of the order, aside from Joe Mauer‘s game-tying two-run double in the 3rd inning, was pretty punchless. That was Mauer’s only hit in five trips to the plate and Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer, and Jason Kubel combined for one hit in 13 ABs, that being a Kubel single. Morneau and Kubel each had a walk while Kubel had a run scored and so did Cuddy because he reached on an error.
Craig Monroe hit his second pinch-hit homer of the year, although this one was not nearly as important as the three-run jack he had in the ninth inning against Kansas City. The score was 7-3 before he got the hit, and Craig Breslow was on his way out to pitch in the next inning. In case you haven’t noticed, Breslow has been literally as perfect as you can expect a reliever to be since he’s been with the Twins, so I have total faith that he will shut down whomever he’s asked to face.
Boof Bonser pitched the 9th inning and although he gave up a single, he did strike out the side.
That’s four Cy Young award winners we’ve faced in the past five games, and we’ve beaten every single one of them (well one got a no decision, but Jake Peavy didn’t dominate us so I count that as a victory). It’s fairly well-known that the Twins seem to struggle against the worst pitchers but do average or better against “aces”.
Even though 7 out of his last 10 starts have been Quality Starts, it’s Francisco Liriano‘s last two that have me convinced he isn’t ready for the bigs. On June 20th he last 5 innings, allowed 9 hits and 5 earned runs scored. The positives were that he only walked one and struck out 7. Then, yesterday, he went 5 and 1/3 innings, allowed 9 hits and 5 earned runs, walked one and struck out three. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, until Francisco can truly dominate (for example, his 1.78 ERA in AAA in 2005 in 14 games started), he should stay at AAA. Not to mention that the way the ML pitchers have been going, there’s really only one replaceable starter and that’s Livan Hernandez. And with the Twins’ track record of handling overpaid vets, I don’t think Livan will lose his spot in the rotation unless he’s shipped out of town.
Today’s game starts at 2:35 (finally! I’ve had enough of those 9PM start games) with Scott Baker facing off against Josh Banks. Who? Yeah, he isn’t a past Cy Young Award winner, but he’s pitching like it so far this season. In 33 and 1/3 innings he’s allowed just six runs for an ERA of 1.62. Here’s hoping that the Twins can extend their winning streak to 9 against this young gun.