Sunday, June 26, 2005

Twins salvaged series behind strong pitching

Finally, a few things came together for the Twins and hopefully its a sign of things to come. The Twins pitched well and the offense came out with enough vigor to pull out a good victory against the Brewers to avoid a sweep this afternoon. A near shut-out for the staff and a offensive explosiveness right out of the box. In the first inning, Luis Rodriguez hit the first home run in the majors and a two-run homer at that, just over the right-field fence. The Twins put the rest of their runs up on the board in the sixth, where they had three runs on three hits, a walk, an a failed fielder's choice that allowed a run to score. It was a very positive effort for the Twins and a few players stood out in today's victory:

* Glenn Williams appears to be the choice for third baseman for the time, as Gardenhire finally has benched Cuddyer after his awful two error game on Wednesday that brought him to a tie for the major league league with 13 errors. (A very bad stat to lead in, indeed) Williams has responded to the regular playing time by hitting .400 and hitting safely in every game he has playing in so far. Today, he went 2 for 5 with with a run scored. Although his defense might not be significantly better than Cuddyer's, his bat certainly appears to be.

* Shannon Stewart had a great offensive day, going 3 for 5 with a run scored and a two-out, run scoring double in the sixth that brought the Twins to a comfortable 5-0 lead. Stewart, who was slumping a bit as of late, is hitting .293 and has been fairly steady all year for a club that is in dire need of stability.

* Luis Rodriguez continues to impress. Besides his first home run to give the Twins a quick 2-0, he went 3 for 5 as well, bringing his average to .321. Rodriguez, along with Williams, has been a bright spot during the past few forgottable weeks of play. Gardenhire's choice to continue to play him is a both a smart and delightful decision to see.

* Kyle Lohse was a bit erratic in his sixth inning of work, but did not give up any runs over six innings, acting as a stopper for the staff and ending a personal streak that has seen him look terrible over his past few starts. Along with Matt Guerrier, who pitched two scoreless innings of relief with three strikeouts, Lohse gave the Twins a excellent opportunity to win, which they finally capitolized on.

* Joe Nathan, who has been extremely unstable as of late and who hasn't pitched much lately, came out to pitch the night. It started out terrible, as he gave up four hits and a two-run home run to Geoff Jenkins, but he settled into a better groove to strike out the last two hitters. Hopefully, that's a sign of things to come, because a Nathan who is walking this many hitters and who owns a 4.15 ERA is the not the dominant Nathan we are used to. (Same goes for Johan. Something has to change soon, because the starts he has had lately have been just awful to watch)

It was a good way to end another bad series for the Twins. They start a three-game series with Kansas City at home, but run into a KC team that has been 12-6 with new manager Buddy Bell on board. Their young pitching (Zack Greinke, J.P. Howell) could spell relief or more doom for the Twins as they begin another series they should and need to win.

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