Monday, July 04, 2005

Bats back?

A 7-5 victory over the AL West-leading Angels was definitely a move in the right direction. Carlos Silva did not pitch particularly well tonight, but there was plenty of punch to make up for it. The Twins managed those seven runs on 13 hits off of Angels starter John Lackey and the Angel bullpen. All and all, it was a very good win for the Twins over one of the better teams in the league and they have now won five straight.

* Jacque Jones had a good night after a few ugly games against left-handers. He went 2 for 3 with two walks, a home run, three runs scored, and two RBIs. Jones, who has been back and forth as of late and who hadn't hit a home run since June 10th, finally showed some of his more classic talents. The Twins really need guys like Jones, the team veterans, to get hot and to lead this team into serious contention.

* Torii Hunter went 3 for 5 with a RBI and two doubles. Of all the veterans, Hunter has likely been the more consistent as of late. Its important for him to continue his leadership role and to drive in runs consistently. Although it was a good night, Hunter still is clearly dominated by good breaking pitches and that holds him back a lot.

* Shannon Stewart, Justin Morneau, and Juan Castro each had two hits. Castro, who has been hitting light as of late, drove in three including a clutch two-run double early in the game. If all these guys get a confidence boost from this hopefully they can continue a run without having to rely completely on the the success of the pitching staff.

* Joe Nathan pitched a solid ninth inning, striking out two and picking up his AL-leading 24th save. Nathan has picked up a save in each of the last four victories and has lowered his ERA to 3.47. Keeing in mind that he did not have many opportunities lately and that his problems occured in non-save situations, Nathan seems more and more like a legitimate All-Star.

* Silva did not pitch too well, going only 6 and 1/3 innings while allowing four runs on eight hits, but he did strike out a season-high six hitters. The win was the seventh for Silva and he also did not walk any batters again. That means that Silva has walked only five batters in 103 and 1/3 innings this year. You can't fault Silva for playing hit game and throwing strikes.

It was in most ways a very solid victory. A few ugly plays, like Shannon Stewart in the 8th that caused a run, did not look so well, but the main thing is the Twins won again and did not fall back any more games to the White Sox. Tommorow should be interesting, as Scott Baker makes his first major-league start in place of Brad Radke, who has to miss a start due to neck pains.