Minnesota did not have a runner on base until Craig Monroe hit his 9th double of the year to lead off the 6th inning. That’s where things sort of unraveled for Cleveland because Brendan Harris walked and Nick Punto reached on a sacrifice bunt that was misplayed by both the 3B and pitcher. He bunted down the third base line but the 3B went to cover the base, while the pitcher stood on the mound. By the time anybody got to the ball, Punto was long safe at first.

This is where the news turns to unfortunate, if you’re Nick Blackburn. Denard Span and Alexi Casilla, the next two batters, each got an RBI through a groundout. So how is that unfortunate news for Nick, if his team was ahead 2-1? With the bases loaded and nobody out, the Twins only managed two runs. Our bullpen would give up a run in the 8th inning, giving Blackburn a no decision in a game that he pitched pretty well in. He was able to go 7 innings on 99 pitches, only allowed one run on 4 hits, plus he struck out 3 and walked one.

 

The lineup came up big in the 9th inning though. Casilla hit a 1-out, ground-rule double. Justin Morneau, after Mike Redmond had struck out, hit his 25th double of the year to drive in Casilla and pick up his 76th RBI of the season. Delmon Young was intentionally walked, and Jason Kubel made them pay for it with an RBI single.

 

More key 2-out hitting by the Twins…what a shock. The Twins lead the Majors in batting average in multiple situations: with runners in scoring position (.315), with runners in scoring position and two outs (.286), with runners on (.297), with the bases loaded (.341), and in close-and-late situations (.280). Close-and-late is defined as the 7th inning or later with either the score tied, or the tying run for either team in the on-deck circle.

Truthfully, it’s one of the very few reasons the Twins are just 2.5 games behind the White Sox this late in the season.

 

Speaking of the Sox, they’re coming into town for a 4-game series…I don’t think it’s too outlandish to think that it’s the most important series of the year, thus far. The problem for the Twins is that Chicago will be throwing 3 (probable) lefties, and for one reason or another the Twins just cannot hit left-handed pitchers this year. The Metrodome favors Minnesota though; the Twins are 34-19 at home this season which is 5th-best in the Majors.

 

A quick update on Francisco Liriano: he threw 6 innings last night, giving up 8 hits and 4 runs, but he only walked 1 and struck out 9. There’s still no new news on a possible promotion date, which is unfortunate.

 

Kevin Slowey pitches tonight and will look to get the team off to a good start in this crucial series.

Advertisements