Unlike last night's game, which seemed to be perfect and a game in which all the elements came together for the Twins, tonight's game was a failure on many accounts. Matthew LeCroy proved to be a failure as a pinch hitter, looking pathetic against 92 mph "heat" right down the middle. If LeCroy can't even handle fastballs, I can no longer see his use on the team. He is, however, just one of the many offensive problems the Twins had. They were lucky to manage three runs, as they only had five hits all night. Two of those hits were home runs, one off the bat of Jacque Jones (his second straight night with a two-run homer driving in Torii Hunter) and another for Justin Morneau. Morneau's was his first since May 17th and was a blast to center field. But, alas, don't get your hopes up too much Twins fans. Morneau's homer was off a pitch in his sweet spot. For some reason, Vazquez throw him a middle-in fastball that came back over the plate, just like Morneau likes. It wasn't a well-placed fastball on the outside corner, like so many have been to Morneau lately. He still has yet to show he can handle those tough pitches. Its nice to see the power, but Morneau has a lot to improve on still. And the rest of Twins offense looked pretty meager against Vazquez, who has been fairly hittable most of the year.
Shannon Stewart and Joe Mauer both went 0 for 4, as Mauer continues to struggle at the plate, with his average now down to .287. We have come to expect a lot of Mauer, but for a guy who has such a sweet swing, he also needs to get back in the groove quick. Lew Ford, who was swinging a good bat coming into the series, finally got an at-bat, but not until the 9th, hitting a two-out single that put Cuddyer in scoring position before LeCroy screwed up big. Hunter's hitting streak ended, as he went 0 for 3 in a bad night all around for the Twins. Starter Kyle Lohse also didn't look as good as he has lately.
He managed to settle down in the later innings, but not until he had surrendered four runs. He seemed to fall back into his same old problems, not using his best pitches to try and induce groundballs with men on, allowing several runs to score that he wouldn't have allowed in recent starts where he has been focusing on utlizing his two-seamer as much as possible. Lohse is still doing better, but it wasn't his best start all year.
The nicest thing about tonight is that the Twins nearly did pull out a win, if not for LeCroy, and that Jones continued his great hitting and recent power surge. Let's hope that carries into the exciting series with the Dodgers this weekend. It will be the first meeting of these two teams since 1965, when Koufax shut the Twins out to win the series.