Ron Gardenhire should set aside the ill feelings he has toward Lew Ford and kiss his cleats after tonight's game. In the bottom of the 7th inning, with the score tied at 4 and runners on first and second with one out, Gardy allowed Jacque Jones to bat against lefty George Sherrill. Sherrill is tough on left-handed hitters, holding them to a .133 average this year, and Jones has continually proven that he can't touch southpaws, posting a .214 average against them. In this situation, it was clear that a pinch-hitter was needed. Granted, the Twins are light on backup outfielders, but all of the Twins infielders other than Morneau had outfield experience so they could be shifted. Instead, Ron let Jones go to the plate, and Jacque very quickly struck out, going down swinging at three curveballs out of the zone. It was an absolutely pathetic at-bat, and another example of Gardenhire failing to make an obvious move. Fortunately for him, many people will forget about this atrocity because Ford came up next and smacked a Jeff Nelson curveball over the left field fence for a three-run homer. That would hold up, as the Twins would get the victory, their sixth in a row, and continue their late-season charge for the wild card spot.
Jones, who went 0/4 with three strikeouts and five men left aboard, was not the only veteran who struggled in this game. Shannon Stewart has really not looked like himself this year. He came in for the second half of the 2003 season and led the team to the playoffs with his outstanding plate discipline and knack for clutch hits and execution. He kept that up through last season, again helping to lead the offense with a high average and on-base percentage. This year, however, Stewart has been much like his Soul Patrol comrades: inconsistent and impatient at the plate. Tonight, Stewart came up with one out and a runner on third and struck out swinging at a pitch that was a mile outside. This lack of execution has been a running problem for this team, but usually it's from the young inexperienced players. If Stew can't put the ball in play in that situation, this team is going to have some problems, no doubt.
Negatives aside, this was a huge win. The Twins' offense overcame a shaky start from Carlos Silva and once again put enough runs on the board to win.
JC Romero had some quotes in the paper today about how he essentially wants to be traded because he thinks his career could be rejuvenated in another city. He cited David Ortiz and Casey Blake as examples. Okay, Ortiz maybe; but Blake is hitting .240. And what about Chuck Knoblauch, Eric Milton, Cristian Guzman, Bobby Kielty, Michael Restovich, LaTroy Hawkins and Corey Koskie? Didn't see any of them fit to mention, JC? Those guys all got quite the shot in the arm after they left Minnesota.
The fact is, Mr. Romero, that you are a bad pitcher. You have no control, and you let baserunners score. That ain't going to change no matter where you go.
I really wish Terry Ryan would've traded that dink. What an airhead.