The Twins won yesterday's game in a rather unconvincing fashion, taking a road series from the Rangers 2-1. The Twins are, by a number of factors, lucky to have gotten the win. For one, the game was very nearly tied in the eighth inning when Mark DeRosa's deep fly hit off the yellow stripe on the side of the outfield wall where it rises several feet in left-center. Instead of a three-run home run, DeRosa provided a two-run double that left the game at 4-3. After Juan Rincon managed to get out of the eighth without further damage, Joe Nathan shut the door on the game with a quick and nasty ninth, striking out two.
Of course, DeRosa's fly wasn't the only luck the Twins got. Over the course of the game, the Twins had three hitters come to the plate with the bases loaded and no outs. Each time, the batter succeeded in getting a run in. The problem is that twice, a run scored on a double-play, and the other was the result of Texas starter Vincente Padilla's terrible control in the seventh inning that led him to hit Mike Redmond with a pitch after walking Torii Hunter and Michael Cuddyer before hitting Justin Morneau.
The only other run the Twins scored, which ended up being the difference in game, came in the form of a scalding single up the middle off of Hunter's hot bat in the eighth, scoring Nick Punto. Scoring four runs on six hits is normally impressive, but the luck is made more apparent by this stat: The Twins were 11/15 in scoring opportunities in Tuesday's blowout win, but were 1/10 in yesterday's victory. Much of the blame should and can be placed on the shoulders of the two gaping holes in the Twins' lineup: Tony Batista and Juan Castro.
Over a month into the year, Batista has proven with his .238/.292/.362 line that is he is no longer worthy of a lineup spot. That doesn't even factor in his sub-par defensive play. Same goes for Castro. His .222/.258/.270 is worse, but then again, what do you expect from a .230 career hitter? Not surprisingly, together they went 0-for-8 yesterday and left a total of six men on base, with Castro stranding three in scoring position. He also had an error in the eighth inning that helped continue a potential Rangers rally. We are merely left to wonder at this point why Luis Rodriguez and Jason Bartlett, or even Punto, aren't starting in their places. Plain and simply, Ron Gardenhire and Terry Ryan need to swallow their pride and bench or release these guys.
As for Kyle Lohse, his six innings were not phenomenal, but likely enough to keep his spot in the rotation. The four walks are concerning, but his six strikeouts were impressive. What I wonder is why Lohse is the only pitcher being singled out to compete for his spot in the rotation. As far as I can tell, Carlos Silva has been a worse pitcher this year and has not shown any signs of breaking out (I don't count the KC game). I am fine if Lohse is in the rotation, just as long as Silva is taken out to make room for Liriano if he doesn't improve.