Friday, June 03, 2005

Injuries don't take away from Twins Victory

With the three injuries in yesterday's 13-inning fiasco with the Indians, the Twins figured to be tired and weary against the dominating Yankees this series. But Friday was all things the opposite. Our bullpen dominated the Yankees. The Twins hit more homers. The Twins, overall, took over the game. It was a pleasure to watch. There were, as always, some bad spots. Michael Cuddyer's pension for hitting into double plays continued, as he hit into two tonight and he now has done that 12 times this year. Cuddyer basically did the same thing at the bat all night, hitting it weakly to the left side. It may be again time to consider some platooning at third, as after a good May, Cuddyer has once again fallen into his old habits. And Hunter and Jones both made bad plays in the lights to create two hits for the Yankees. But that shouldn't take away too much for a generally great game the Twins played.

Kyle Lohse is the beacon for this success, as he did not give up today after a bad start. In the first, the Yankees had four hits, including a two-run home-run off the bat of Gary Sheffield. If not for a double-play, the Yankees would have had a few more. He ran into similar problems in the second and he gave up seven hits through three innings, but Lohse continued his progress as a pitcher by utilitizing his two-seamer again to induce ground balls and get double plays. That good pitching allowed him to get through six innings and he only gave up the three runs. After that, the best bullpen in the AL took over. Jesse Crain, who has allowed only one earned run so far in 22 innings this year, came in and dominated the heart of the Yankees order, striking out Derek Jeter on a nasty slider. Juan Rincon came in with a blazing fastball to fly through the eight and Joe Nathan look a lot better tonight as he picked up his 16th save of the year. In all, the bullpen threw 35 pitches, 21 strikes, walked none, struck out three, and gave up no hits against the Yankees. That's impressive, especially after the Cleveland game on Thursday. If there is any reason the Twins are 3 and 1/2 games behind the White Sox now, its their all-around great pitching.

With Lohse's start tonight, the Twins have gone through the rotation three times and have had all quality starts but one. Each starter has an ERA under four in that time period, with Carlos Silva leading the way, going 1-1 with a 1.88 ERA in his last three starts. And the bullpen is now tops in the AL in ERA with a budding closer in Jesse Crain. The only key now is offense and a few unlikely elements allowed for the win tonight.

For one, Brett Abernathy, who was just called up in the wake of Rivas' injury, hit his first home-run in three years into the left-field porch. He has been doing very well in the few days since his call up, helping to ease the wounds of recent injuries. Lew Ford went 2 for 4 with the key hit in the game, a three-run homer off of Mike Mussina in the fifth inning and a hustle triple in the fourth. Torii Hunter continued his recent hitting streak, going 2 for 4 with a great steal off of Mussina and Posada that didn't even warrant a they, while Jones also had two hits. It was an incredible game, as without the M and M boys, the Twins had no trouble producing runs off a pitcher who has beat them 20 times in his career. We can only hope the good times continue and that the M and M boys return soon.