Avoiding A Letdown

Slow.jpgI didn’t post anything regarding yesterday’s Twins loss…perhaps I was just too frustrated by the end of the big winning streak (and the inevitable fact that the Fat Man was on the mound when it happened).  However, today the Twins were able to bounce back successfully from yesterday’s near-shutout loss:

In the early goings of today’s afternoon tilt, it looked as if the Twins were completely overmatched by Milwaukee’s Ben Sheets…and they were.  Whether it was the low-90s fastball on the outside corner or the knee-buckling 12-6 curve, Sheets was mowing down the Twins’ batters.  Luckily, Kevin Slowey was doing the same against the Brewer bats.  Without the sharp stuff or velocity of Sheets, Slowey used his pin-point control to attack the weaknesses of the opposing batters.

The tide began turning in the Twins’ favor in the middle innings, when Jason Kubel and Carlos Gomez delivered clutch hits to give Minnesota a 2-0 lead.  The Twins never really “got to” Sheets, but just took advantage of every single opportunity they were given.  As Slowey continued to set down the Brew Crew with little trouble, Delmon Young’s second home run of the year gave the Twins a formidable 4-0 lead, while Alexi Casilla’s RBI double put the icing on the cake of a 5-0 victory.

Despite the clutch hitting of many Twins batters, today’s star was undoubtedly Slowey.  Against a lineup that thrives on mashing balls into gaps and seats, Slowey held the Brewers to just one extra base hit and two singles.  Much to TV broadcaster Bert Blyleven’s delight, Slowey lasted all nine innings en route to picking up the complete-game shutout.  During the Twins’ just-ended 10 game winning streak, it was the starting pitching that really carried the team.  After Livan’s hiccup (or normal start?!) last night, Slowey returned to that formula.

Two thoughts after the completion of tonight’s game:

1. I was glad that the Twins did not have a letdown after yesterday’s loss.  Earlier this season, the Twins were a rollercoaster team, filled with highs and lows on a whims notice.  The breaking of the winning streak could have burst a few balloons, but instead the Twins got right back after it with good pitching and clutch hitting.

2. Interleague play is now over (tear).  After going 14-4 against the “Senior Circuit”, the Twins will now have to prove themselves in their own division (most important) and around the rest of the AL.  The Twins’ schedule until the All-Star break looks like this: vs. Detroit, vs. Cleveland, at Boston, at Detroit.  The Red Sox are always tough, the Indians can be difficult if facing their top starting pitchers, and the Tigers are finally playing up to their potential.  If the Twins can survive until the break and still remain in contention, they may just be for real.

Preview (45-37, 2nd, 1.0 GB CWS (will change after tonight’s CWS game)): Glen Perkins (4-2, 4.47) vs. Armando Galarraga (7-2, 3.32).  Galarraga has lost to the Twins twice this season, but Detroit’s bats can tee off on any opposing pitcher unless pitched too with extreme skill. 

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