Saturday, April 15, 2006

Taking Down the Bombers

The Twins are finally at .500, as they took down the New York Yankees last night in a 5-1 victory. That makes four straight victories at home to bring the Twins within one game of first place. That's a heck of an improvement considering how things looked Sunday. Scott Baker, following the lead of Kyle Lohse's quality start Thursday afternoon, was not intimidated by the Yankees lineup filled with big sluggers and run-producers. With four Ks, a walk, three hits allowed, and only one earned run in seven innings, Baker looked great on the hill. But, beyond the pitching performances (four hits allowed total) and solid defense turned in by the Twins, the offense was just as much of a surprise.

Facing Mike Mussina, who came in 20-4 against the Twins, things did not look too great. However, the Twins managed to put together a few solid innings and showed patience and an ability to get some big hits with two outs. Things were nothing near the way they were all of last year. With nine hits on the night, the most impressive performances came late, in the seventh and eight innings. Juan Castro had a 10-pitch at-bat against Mussina that resulted in an RBI single and the next inning, Torii Hunter and Tony Batista had doubles and Justin Morneau had an RBI single.

Needless to say, the offense did its part, as it has for the last four games. It seems safe to say there are definite improvements we've seen. Extra-base hits, two-out hits, well-placed sacrifices, and of course, home runs. And now, the pitching staff is coming around, with great performances from all last night.

With Johan on the mound today, a sweep may be possible, but at the least, the Twins should come out of series with the Blue Jays, the Indians, the A's, and the Yankees with a .500 record and to do so would be a accomplishment and a sign that they can be a contender.