Thursday, May 19, 2005

Loaded Sixth

The Twins took care of business today to defeat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-0 in the rubber game of a three-game mid-week series at the Metrodome. The offense really did nothing outside of the sixth inning, where Michael Cuddyer (who has been outrageously hot lately) came up with the bases loaded and no outs and did we he was unable to do through the entire month of April... came through. And big. Cuddyer battled Blue Jays pitcher Gustavo Chacin, fouling off eight pitches, and finally capped off a 13-pitch at-bat with a 2-run double. Cuddyer has been amazing lately, and today was no different. He has also improved greatly with the glove, going from terrible to about average. He still maintains the lowest fielding percentage among starting AL third basemen, and still seems a little unsure on his throws, but has shown marked improvement. I have to hand it to the Twins management for knowing that Cuddy would eventually come around, but I still maintain that he lost us several games in April due to his rally-killing strikeouts and double-plays, and that he shouldn't have started as many games as he did.

After Cuddyer's two-run double, Mike Redmond (who had 2 hits and has been much better than expected offensively) hit a 2-run single. On those two hits, the Twins would get all the offense they would need. Joe Mays pitched phenomenally, delivering a complete-game shutout allowing seven hits and no walks while striking out two. Mays had allowed only one runner above the minimum through six innings, but seemed to be running into his characteristic seventh inning woes. After getting the first out, he allowed two straight singles, and Twins-killer Vernon Wells stepped up with one out and two on and a chance to put the Jays right back in it. Mays settled down and got a double play to escape the inning. Then, despite allowing a few hits in the eighth and ninth, Mays completed the game for one of the best gems I've ever seen from him.

The victory was not all positives though... there were several distressing factors. In the third, the Twins loaded the bases with one out for cleanup hitter Justin Morneau and Mr. Five-HOLE Torii Hunter. Typically this is a situation where your big bats in the middle of the lineup produce some runs. Both players struck out swinging. Morneau had a disconcertingly bad game, going 1/4 with three strikeouts while leaving five men aboard. Hunter drew a walk in one at-bat, but otherwise went 0/3 with two strikeouts. If these two cannot start producing with some consistency, this offense will never take off.

4 comments:

roger said...

I sat in the upper deck directly behind home plate today. The umpire was calling pitches strikes that were outside by 4-5". I think that really got to Morneau with his first ab when he was called out looking. In the umps defense, he was consistant all day to both right and lefthanded hitters. But this type of call will have an effect on a young player like Morneau.

Nick N. said...

Very good point, thanks for your input. I was just following the game online from work, so I wasn't really aware of such intangibles.

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