Sunday, July 17, 2005

Offense Absent Again

What can I say that hasn't already been said? The Twins continue to get great pitching, but put it to waste by scoring no runs. Today's performance was one of the worst yet from the pitiful offense. John Lackey, who the Twins hammered in their last meeting, tore the hitters to shreds, going 7 innings and striking out 10 while allowing just 5 hits and one unearned run. Twins' pitcher Joe Mays looked terrific, going 7 innings and essentially shutting down the powerful Angels lineup aside from a 2-run homer by Jeff DaVanon in the second inning. The fact that he took the loss in this game is really just sad.

*Shannon Stewart hit in the third spot in the order for the second straight game today. I like this move. I don't know why Stewart has the tag of being a leadoff hitter, really... he's not that fast and he doesn't post amazing on-base percentages. He's just a good, consistent, solid hitter with a knack for coming through in the clutch. In my mind, those are the characteristics of a guy who should be hitting in the middle of the lineup. He did well there today, going 2 for 4.

*The guy who hit behind Stewart didn't have such a great day. Justin Morneau looked totally overmatched. He went 0/4 with 3 strikeouts and a groundout to the pitcher. It simply does not appear that Morneau is going to be able to get it done as a Major League hitter at this point. I don't know what the options are, but the Twins have GOT to start getting some kind of offense out of first-base.

*I like the Angels to win the AL pennant. Their bullpen is just phenomenal. If they are carrying a small lead into the 8th inning, the game is over. Scott Shields and Francisco Rodriguez are just unhittable.

*Aside from Morneau, Torii Hunter and Nick Punto both had miserable days at the plate as well. Both went 0/4 with 2 strikeouts. I'm not too worried about Hunter, because that's just typical for him, but Punto has regressed terribly since returning from injury. His batting average has dropped 40 points and he's been striking out more. He looked pretty good defensively at third base, but right now his hitting is no better than Michael Cuddyer's.

*Bret Boone showed a flash of what I'm hoping to see out of him. In his third at-bat, he drove the ball to center for a single (then reached second on an error by Steve Finley). That is the second consecutive day in which he has hit the ball hard to center field. Granted, 2 hits in 2 days is hardly impressive, but it is important to remember that the guy hadn't played in about 2 weeks upon joining the Twins. His initial rustiness is forgivable if he can turn it on and start hitting some line drives, which is what nobody in this lineup aside from Joe Mauer can seem to do.

*When is Jacque Jones going to stop constantly pulling grounders to the right side of the infield on bad pitches? Sounds like a coaching problem (cough cough).

If the Twins had come out of the gate strong in the second half, and the White Sox had continued with their slight skid that they rode into the break, then perhaps the possibility of a surge to overtake the division lead was realistic. But now, with the Twins dropping 3 of 4 to the Halos and the Sox decimating the Indians in a 4-game sweep, that possibility has almost completely faded away. The Twins are 12 games out of first place, the White Sox are for real, and it's time to start concentrating on keeping in Wild Card contention.