Sunday, August 21, 2005

Twins 8, Mariners 3

Remember a couple weeks ago when you turned off the game after the Twins fell behind by one run? It was sad, but reasonable; it seemed that any lead an opposing team took was insurmountable with the lack of resilience being shown by the Twins' meager offense. Fortunately, those days appear to be gone, at least for now, as the Twins offense has stepped it into high gear thanks to gritty performances from guys like Lew Ford and Matthew LeCroy who, given regular playing time, have become forces at the plate for this team. It showed again today as the team beat up on Seattle to take the 4-game series, and they have now won 8 of their last 10. Let's analyze... bullet-point style.

*Ford came through today with yet ANOTHER three-run homer, and it was big. He drove it to the left field seats with the Twins up 4-3 to give them some insurance after and RBI single by LeCroy had given them the lead. As aforementioned, Ford and LeCroy have been downright excellent during the Twins current streak. Ford - who has homered in three straight games now - has really stepped up and picked up the slack left by the injury of Torii Hunter, offensively and defensively. And playing at DH most every day, LeCroy is just hitting the ball hard every time he comes up, and seems to be showing a little more patience.

*While those two have been good, it is clear that the heart of this offense is #7. Joe Mauer had a fantastic series, and he is pretty visibly starting to strike fear into opposing managers. It showed today when, after tripling and singling in his first two at-bats, the Mariners walked him three straight times. Mauer's on-base percentage is now .382, tied with Bill Mueller for 10th in the AL.

*Brad Radke had some early troubles, but settled down to get the victory as the offense finally provided him with some support. Radke is now 8-10 with a 3.78 ERA. Hopefully he can have some strong outings here over the closing stretch and surpass his win total of 11 from last year.

*Jacque Jones, returning from some time out with a strained oblique muscle, had an absolutely awful series. I realize he's playing hurt, but I don't see how that can cause one to swing at some of the pitches he's been hacking at.

*On another note, apparently the Twins have claimed Alfonso Soriano off waivers from the Texas Rangers. Don't think too much of it, because it is almost certain that they did it only to prevent another contending team from being able to acquire him, but reports were that the Twins and Rangers were working at a deal. Unfortunately, waivers prevent the Twins from being able to trade Kyle Lohse or JC Romero, so it's not too likely that this trade (which should have happened before July 31st) will go down. It would be nice to see the team acquire Alfonso, not only for this year but for next year as well.

The Twins have the day off tomorrow but then will be at home facing the White Sox once again. Johan Santana will look to continue his hot streak as the Twins look to continue their pursuit of the AL Wild Card, which is looking wide open right now. The reeling A's just lost their weekend series to the Royals (ouch), and Cleveland has overtaken the lead. The Indians open a series with the Devil Rays tomorrow (who have actually been pretty solid at home this year), so it is imperative that the Twinkies play well against Chicago to keep up with them.