Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Timely Hitting

For all the complaints we give about offense, I have to give the Twins credit for a few things. For one, they second in the bigs with a .277 team average with two outs and runners in scoring position. That's pretty good if you ignore their lack of success with the bases loaded. Tonight, however, made it more evident that they are getting better at it. All six of their runs came with two outs and happened to be opposite-field hits. Those are some very good signs. Lets break it down:

* Justin Morneau lead the pack, having two impressive at-bats against lefty-specialists Arthur Rhodes and Scott Sauerbeck. In both cases, he got down in the count but then took a breaking-ball to the opposite field for a hit. He brought one in the 8th and cleared the bases in the 11th to give the Twins the win. He certainly stepped up at the right time after a series of disappointing games, going 2 for 5 with 4 RBIs, bringing his team-leading total to 29 RBIs. Hopefully, these two key at-bats will get Justin's bat going again

* Lew Ford continued his pummeling of the ball, going 2 for 3 with two runs scored, two walks, and a 2-out RBI in the third. He has been on a tear lately, hitting .400 in his last seven games

* Michael Cuddyer was somewhat disappointing, but he did manage to continue his hitting streak, bringing it to thirteen games, going 1 for 5 tonight with an RBI single in the 6th.

* Jesse Crain won his second extra-innings game in three days, shutting the Indians out in the 9th and 10th innings, working quickly and continuing an impressive rookie season

* Joe Nathan came in and got his 13th save, though his control still seemed to be a little off, as it had been completely lost in Sunday's game. Hopefully Joe can get right back into focus as well

Other Comments:

* Jacque Jones was ejected in the 6th inning for arguing a strikeout call, after going 0 for 3 during the game. Jones has really fallen hard this month, with his average now sitting at .274 after he had been a league-leader in April.

* Joe Mauer had a great throw to catch Jose Hernandez in the 6th, as he threw it right on the money. Mauer has been great at throwing out runners this year, catching them at a nearly 50 percent clip

* On another positive note, the Twins had three stolen bases tonight, including Torii Hunter's 13th of the year

* Following that, instead of taking Torii out of the 5th spot, as we have suggested, he moved Mauer into the 2nd spot, Ford into the 3rd spot (which worked fine tonight, but...) and dropped Punto into the 8th spot. This is mind-boggling because he has not adjusted anything in his lineup regarding his two big struggling stars, Jones and Hunter. Hunter needs to be moved a lot more than Nick Punto does. If he really wants to shake up his lineup, he's going to have to try harder than that.