Despite another lacking offensive performance, the Twins defeated the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 3-2 today to complete a series sweep. The Twins scored their 3 runs on only 4 hits, but it was enough as Joe Mays came through with a solid start, going 7 innings and allowing just 2 runs on 7 hits while walking 2 and striking out 3. Juan Rincon and Joe Nathan teamed up to finish the game with a hitless 8th and 9th to round out an impressive pitching effort for the Twins.
The lack of hitting continues to be a concern. Matthew LeCroy hit a solo home run, Juan Castro hit a sac fly and Mike Redmond had an RBI single, and that was the extent of the Twins' offensive production. Fortunately, it was enough today. Jacque Jones started YET AGAIN against a left-handed pitcher, and went 0/3 with 2 strikeouts. Why Gardenhire continues to start Jones against lefties while regularly benching Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer against them is quite puzzling. Jones had a big game on Friday, when he started against left-hander Casey Fossum, but he had done terrible against Fossum and delivered his big three-run triple against a right-handed reliever. Jacque is hitting at a pathetic .229/.281/.373 line against southpaws while pounding righties at a rate of .289/.381/.461. It seems like it would be common sense to have him on the bench most days when a lefty is starting so he could be used as a late-game weapon off the bench against a right-handed reliever, but Gardy continues to start him despite his terrible production. Another example of Ron's very questionable management this season.
The Twins went 5-1 over the 6-game homestand against the 2 worst teams in the league, so they did what they needed to do. Now they will embark on a 7-game road trip before arriving at the All-Star break. The three games against the division leading Angels will be very important, if they can win that series they will be in good shape. Hopefully they can win at least 3 of their 4 in Kansas City and perhaps cut down their division deficit just a bit.
The All-Star selection occurs tonight, so it should be interesting to see which Twins make the team. There are a handful of guys that have a chance of making the squad; Santana, Crain, Hunter, Nathan, and Mauer. I don't expect that all those guys will be there, but a couple of them definitely should. I predict it will be Santana and Hunter. We will have full coverage of all the players selected tomorrow afternoon, so make sure to check back.