Tuesday, August 23, 2005

One Hit Wonder

Tonight's game was probably one of the craziest I have ever watched. I hate the White Sox and everything, but you just HAVE to feel for Freddy Garcia. The guy is pitching the game of his life, carries a no-hitter into the 8th inning, throws one bad pitch, and loses the game 1-0. How could such a thing happen? Because he was facing Johan Santana, the August version. Garcia was quoted before the game as saying he would probably have to throw a shutout to beat Santana. He wasn't kidding. Santana threw his third straight gem, winning his 13th game by going 8 innings and striking out 7 while allowing only 3 hits and no runs. He probably could've picked up his second shutout in three games, as his pitch count was still below 100, but Gardy took the safe route and sent Joe Nathan in to close out the ninth, which one can hardly complain about.

The unlikely hero tonight was Jacque Jones, who has been absolutely terrible lately. Jones, who has recently been doing nothing but striking out and grounding out to the left side, stepped to the plate in the 8th inning 0/2 and still looking for the Twins' first hit of the game. Jacque made contact and drove the ball to center field, then flipped his bat down in that signature motion and started trotting. The ball sailed into the folded bleachers in right-center field and Garcia watched his no-hitter, his shut-out, and most likely his win slip away.

Garcia is the first pitcher to throw a one-hitter and lose in 10 years. He pitched great, but the real stud of the game was Santana, who has been absolutely extraordinary lately. Johan's ERA has dropped to 3.22, and he has allowed one run in the last 28 innings. His changeup is back in top form, again making hitters look silly (particularly Aaron Rowand) and he's getting first pitch strikes and showing great command with all his pitches. This is the Johan we were hoping would appear after a tough mid-season stretch when walks were up and strikeouts were down. He's now every bit as dominant as he was in the second half of last season, and if he keeps it up has a legitimate chance to repeat as the Cy Young award winner.

Unfortunately, the Yankees and Indians both pulled off comeback victories so the Twins didn't gain any ground on their main competition. The slipping Athletics did lose to Detroit, so the Twins are now just a game and a half behind them. Talk of overcoming the Sox is silly, they aren't winning right now but it's foolish to think they will sucede a 9.5 game lead to the Twins. If anything, the Indians - who are pretty much as hot as the Twins are right now - have a shot to pass the flailing Chicago in the standings.

One hit, one run, one victory. And another unbelievable performance by Cy Santana. The Twins are just a fun team to watch right now, and they are showing no signs of slowing down. Tomorrow the Sox-wrecking may end however, as Joe "Batting Practice" Mays goes against the current Cy Young favorite Mark Buehrle. It's tough to imagine the Twins finding a way to win this game, but then again... who knows?