June 2007


After having leads of 5 and 6 runs, the Tigers made it a little more interesting with a run in the 5th (solo homer), 2 runs in the 6th (two-run homer), and a run in the 8th (another solo shot). Pitcher Kevin Slowey gave up those first two, and Pat Neshek gave up the last one. Slowey went 6 innings, gave up 9 hits, allowed 4 earned runs, walked 1 and struck out 2. Dennys Reyes came in and threw a lot of strikes, getting 2 outs and striking out 1 while allowing a single. Neshek threw an inning and a third, gave up the one hit, and struck out 2. Joe Nathan needed just 10 pitches to record his 16th save of the season. He also struck out 1.

Basically, for the offense, the Twins kept with their perceived style of play by capitalizing on errors made by the other team. Detroit’s 3B fielded a routine grounder but his throw was wild and it allowed Jason Bartlett to reach, instead of recording the second out in the inning. As it turns out, it probably would not have mattered, because after a Joe Mauer walk, Michael Cuddyer blasted his 9th homer of the year. Lew Ford would add his second home run of the year just an inning later. Ford was 2-for-4 with 3 RBI in the game.

The team hit for the cycle with Luis Castillo, Bartlett, and Ford each getting a double, Cuddyer hitting a triple, and Cuddyer with the homer too. 3 different Twins had singles. Bartlett also added a stolen base, he’s now 16-for-16 on the season. He seemed to be in a slump but he now has an 11-game hitting streak going. In that stretch he’s batting .349 with 7 RBI and 10 runs scored, and also 5 walks. Although Gardy wanted to have Mauer batting in the number two spot, it seems like’s reverted to old ways pretty quickly by putting Bartlett back in there. As long as he keeps playing decently, it’s a good decision, but if he starts hitting like Nick Punto, it needs to be changed because he’s taking valuable at-bats away from our core hitters.

Tonight’s game starts at 7:05 and is a highlighted game being shown on (I think) ESPN. Scott Baker has done well in his previous primetime starts, so hopefully he’ll keep that going and give us a shot at sweeping division foes.

Johan Santana pitched pretty good, allowing only 1 run over 6 innings, and the offense lit up Detroit starter Justin Verlander (who threw a no-hitter earlier in June) for a big homer, a couple of doubles, and they took advantage of Detroit’s mistakes, like the Twins usually do.

Santana struck out 6 and walked 1, and the only run he gave up was a solo homer imagine that). He got the win to improve to 9-6 on the season.

Joe Mauer hit his first grand slam ever in the 5th inning. I was sitting there watching, with the bases loaded, just hoping that he wouldn’t hit a weak little double play that it seems he does a lot. I was willing to accept just a base hit, but he wanted to really get some RBIs so he poked it over the left field wall. It was especially great because it gave Santana a bigger lead so he didn’t have to worry about making a mistake, like he did in the earlier part of the season. It’s strange that I always think Joe is going to ground out or make an out when there are runners in scoring position. Last season he batted .360 with a .497 OBP with runners in scoring position. He has the same kind of numbers this year, batting .370 with a .492 OBP.

Jason Bartlett went 1-for-3 yesterday but also had 2 walks, allowing him to set the table and score 3 runs.

The 7-8-9 hitters (Jason Kubel, Jason Tyner, and Nick Punto, respectively) combined to go 1-for-11 with 2 runs scored, an RBI, 2 walks, and 4 strikeouts.

Today’s game starts at 2:55 central time and it’s a showdown between two young guns in Kevin Slowey (2-0, 4.94) and former first-round pick Andrew Miller (3-1, 2.70).

Carlos Silva rebounded after a bad first inning, highlighted by Frank Thomas‘ 500th career home run, to go a total of 7 innings with 5 earned runs and 5 strikeouts. He walked 2 and allowed 6 hits, 3 of them in that 4-run first inning. Silva is now 6-8 on the season and was 3-3 in the month of June. You could really see Silva’s excitement show through when he got an inning-ending double play in the 6th inning and a strikeout of Thomas to end the 7th.

Torii Hunter had two homers in the game, amassing 3 RBI between the two of them. He helped a lineup that had just 1 hit, other than Hunter’s, from the 3 through 9 spots. Michael Cuddyer had that 1. Jason Tyner, playing right field and batting leadoff, was 3-for-4 with an RBI and 2 runs scored. Jason Bartlett, back in the 2-hole, was 2-for-3 with an RBI and 2 runs scored. Justin Morneau was back today but not surprisingly didn’t look like the slugger MVP he is, going 0-for-3 with an RBI and a walk, but with 2 strikeouts. In general his swings didn’t look crisp, or normal for that matter. I expect it’ll take him the better part of this next road trip to get back into the swing (no pun intended) of things.

The Twins really got going on the basepaths yesterday with Bartlett getting 2 stolen bases (he’s now 15-for-15 on the season), while Luis Rodriguez added his second of the year.

After the game it was announced that pitcher Matt Garza has been called up from Rochester. He’ll spend one week in the bullpen and then start one of the games in a doubleheader the team has at the end of next week. Third-string catcher Chris Heintz was sent down to make room. The move definitely doesn’t surprise me, but there’s still some things they can do. They have Garrett Jones and Matt Tolbert at AAA. Jones, who has already been up with the team once this season, has 11 home runs in 72 games for the Red Wings. Tolbert has a .348 batting average with a .404 OBP in 61 games. If the Twins for some reason need a pitcher, look for Nick Blackburn to be the next one in line for a promotion to the team. He’s currently 5-1 with a 1.57 ERA in 8 starts for Rochester.

The game tonight is against the Tigers at Comerica Park. It starts at 6:05 and Johan Santana will try to get us the first win in the series. It’s kind of a big one as the Twins are 6 games behind Detroit for 2nd place in the division.

We had a feeble 9th-inning attempt at a comeback, with Joe Mauer and Torii Hunter both swinging at the first pitch and grounding out, with Michael Cuddyer not doing much else. Today’s game starts at 12:10 so I’ll do a double-recap after that one is over.

Scott Baker threw 7 innings yesterday, allowed only 4 hits, struck out 9, walked 1, and the only run he allowed came in the 8th inning when a sacrifice fly was hit off of Pat Neshek. I’m just glad we didn’t waste a start like that, from our 5th starter. He doesn’t seem to have his head on straight, and to be honest I’m not optimistic that he can string two quality starts together. He had 9 Ks through 5 innings and that is a career high for him.

It was a pretty big pitcher’s duel with both starters combining for 15 innings pitched and 10 hits allowed. The Twins got 3 hits in the 12th to give them 9 on the night, which is kind of a high number for only 2 runs scored. But everybody in the lineup except Mike Redmond and Nick Punto got a hit, and nobody had more than 1. Lew Ford had a pinch-hit single in the 12th and Jeff Cirillo hit the game-winning, pinch-hit bloop single to center. It’s funny though, he doesn’t fit the Twins’ criteria for “good, clubhouse guys who don’t really play good baseball” like a Luis Rodriguez or Rondell White, or even Phil Nevin from last season. Cirillo was quoted last night, after the game was over, as saying “So it’s weird that you’re celebrating a hit but it’s a bloop hit. But we’re like, ‘Whatever, all right, let’s jump up and down and go home.'” I’m not sure how any of you readers interpret that, but it seems to me like he didn’t really care, or it wasn’t a big deal to him. He has complained about playing time, saying he’s only a backup, but it’s just kind of a weird situation.

Dennys Reyes, Pat Neshek, Joe Nathan, and Juan Rincon threw 5 innings of hitless baseball last night to help keep the team in the game. Pat and Joe each struck out 3, but Joe was able to go 2 innings to further help the bullpen rest. Juan needed just 6 pitches to get out of his inning, and he got the official win.

Tonight’s game starts at 7:10 and we have Boof Bonser starting for us. The pitcher we’re facing is 2-5 this season with an ERA of 5.75, but he doesn’t walk a lot of people and his strikeout numbers are pretty good. He allowed 11 hits in 4 innings in his last start, so hopefully we can get the bats going early against him.

Kevin Slowey didn’t have his best stuff, allowing 4 earned runs over 6 innings, with 3 of the 5 total runs scored while he was in the game coming off of home runs (2 separate ones). He didn’t walk anybody and struck out 5.

The offense battled back a couple of times though, with the score 5-5 going into the top of the 8th inning. After a 1-2-3 inning in the 7th, reliever Matt Guerrier stayed in to pitch the 8th. He gave up a double, followed by a homer, then he recorded an out, but after that he hit slugger Frank Thomas (who currently has 499 career home runs) and allowed a single. He allowed another single to load the bases and was finally replaced by Dennys Reyes, who allowed a sac fly but nothing more. It clearly wasn’t a typical Guerrier outing, but that’s his third loss this season.

The game tonight starts at 7:10 and Scott Baker will try to win it for us.

After losing the first game on Friday, and Justin Morneau for an unknown amount of time (maybe the whole Toronto series) with a bruised lung, the team rallied for a rout on Saturday (11-1 win for Carlos Silva), and then they played good baseball yesterday, winning 7-4. Johan Santana pitched 6 innings, allowed just 1 earned run (a run also scored on a Luis Rodriguez throwing error) on 5 hits, and struck out 8. He walked a batter and also hit a batter, but both of those can be debated. I saw the walk on the MLB Gameday thing, and it showed all 4 of the balls as being thrown on the border of the strike zone. The umpire was inconsistent all day, and you would know that if you were listening to the announcers. And on the hit batter, if it did hit the guy, it barely barely barely grazed his elbow…they showed the replay and you couldn’t see a change in the ball’s movement after it was supposed to hit him. I think that umpire was out to get us though, as he ejected Michael Cuddyer when Cuddyer was nearly at the dugout after arguing balls and strikes, and once that happened Mr. Ron Gardenhire threw his hat and came running out to defend Michael, but he was tossed immediately. Oh well, we won the game and that’s what matters.

Joe Mauer provided some much-needed offense with 2 home runs, his first 2-homer game since 2004. One was a solo in the 1st and the other was with a runner on in the 6th.

Pat Neshek and Joe Nathan each gave up a run in relief of Santana, although Neshek’s was on a homer and Nathan gave up 3 hits to help the run score.

You’ve probably all seen this commercial before, but I think it’s hilarious so I’ll show it anyway.

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