Once again, our saving grace seems to come from a few select players. Tonight, it was Johan Santana, Joe Mauer, and Justin Morneau. Johan pitched a great six-hit, no walks, seven strikeouts complete-game. It was another gem from Santana, as he became the second American League pitcher other than the biggest surprise in the league, Jon Garland, with 5 victories. The one run he gave up could have likely been prevented if a) Nick Punto's great throw hadn't hit Lugo and if b) Torii Hunter hadn't made such a bad play on a catchable flyball off the bat of Aubrey Huff.
Hunter's lack of quality play has been astonishing. He started the year on a good start, stealing 10 of 10 bases, but now he has gotten caught every time he tries to steal (including an ugly, embarassing attempt tonight) and his defense has been almost sub-par. He is failing to do the fundamentals. He should that on the flyball tonight, but he's made many more mistakes recently and it is not looking good, especially when he has been so bad at the plate. Yea, he got a hit tonight, but only because he akwardly stuck hit bat out and flailed at a pitch. Otherwise, when he came up with the bases loaded (again!) in the first, what did he do? He swung at the first pitch and weakly grounded out. At least Morneau put up a good fight and battled Brazelton until Brazelton made a good pitch to get him out.
That segways into my next point: Morneau continues to be great. He went 1 for 5 tonight, when doesn't seem great, but he was hitting the ball hard all night for the most part. Its as if sometimes his power gets in the way. And oh yea, he hit a two-run homer off Rob Bell in the fifth. But the offensive star of the night had to be Joe Mauer, who went 4 for 5 with a three-run home-run off of Brazelton in the third, bringing his average up to .349. That's Mauer's second four-hit game and he has only played 60 games in his major-league career! Now that's impressive.
Beyond Mauer and Morneau, Gardenhire's move of Punto to the second spot and Barlett to the ninth seemed to pay off, as Barlett was far more patient and walked in his first two at-bats while Punto went 2 for 5 as he continues to replace Rivas at second. Overall, it was a very good performance by the Twins and should be noted that it was the second complete-game in a row after Brad Radke's career performance yesterday.