Despite letting the Oakland A’s get on the board first tonight, the Twins controlled the rest of the game with authority, belting out 16 hits en route to a 13-2 victory. Leading the offensive charge were Justin Morneau (3-4, 1 RBI, 3 R), Brian Buscher (3-4, HR, 5 RBI, 2 R), Randy Ruiz (2-4, 2 RBI, 2 R), and Brendan Harris (2-3, 2 RBI, 1 R). Denard Span added an RBI triple, while Carlos Gomez crushed a deep shot over the left field fence. Besides a pinch hit appearance from Mike Lamb, in which he drew a walk, every single Twins batter had at least one hit tonight.
Of course, one cannot discount the pitching performance of Kevin Slowey (7 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, career-high 12 Ks), as he was able to give the pen at least one day of rest. As I said in a previous post, if the Twins keeping getting qualities starts like what Slowey contributed tonight, they will be my favorite to win the division come October.
There’s not much strategy to debate in such a blowout game, but I picked up on an interesting comment today from the TV announcers that I thought was very pertinent to the current batting order: the importance of the lead-off guy. Although Gomez gave the Twins a spark out of that spot early in the season, his over-eagerness and thus susceptibility to striking out have dropped him down to ninth. Those struggles corresponded to the Twins struggling on offense until Span (a much more patient hitter) was installed in the #1 spot. Interestingly enough, the Twins had the same thing happen in 2003…they struggled the entire first half until they traded for Toronto’s Shannon Stewart, who brought many more quality at-bats into the fold and propelled the struggling team into the postseason. What I also like about Span is his ability to drive the ball when necessary…not only can he beat out a bunt, but he can also crank the ball into the right field gap or seats. It takes a special player to possess all those skills, and perhaps Span is at that level already.
Preview (71-54, 2nd, 1.0 GB CWS): Francisco Liriano (3-3, 4.97) vs. Dallas Braden (3-2, 4.50). After Monday’s frustration, the Twins now have put themselves in good position (what with Cisco toeing the rubber) to take the series and go into the long road trip on a positive note.