The Twins batted around against Rangers starter Kevin Millwood in the first inning, putting up six runs, and continued to pound the Texas pitching staff for the entire game. The Twins hitters were 11-for-15 in scoring opportunities. Last week, after the Twins' 6-1 victory over the Royals (a game in which the Twins scored six runs in two innings but had only one hit outside of that stretch), I made the following plea:
Some day it would be nice to just see them come out and hit the ball hard consistently all game long, without these long stretches of 1-2-3 innings. Is that so much to ask?Apparently not. The Twins scored 10 runs in the first three innings of last night's game and another five in the last three innings, finishing with 15 runs on 19 hits. Now, a flurry of notes on some great offensive performances:
* Michael Cuddyer is on an absolute tear. Cuddy went 3-for-5 with three doubles, 2 RBIs and a walk, raising his OPS on the season to 1.054. How long can he keep this up? Who knows, but it does appear that Cuddyer is finally figuring it out at the plate. He is now on a 10-game hitting streak.
* Likewise, Torii Hunter continued his torrid hot streak. Hunter, who was hitting below .200 just a week ago, collected three hits and now sports a respectable line of .266/.321/.476. Hunter and Cuddyer have looked great hitting fourth and fifth, and as a result the Twins offense has taken off, scoring 4+ runs in seven of their last eight games. See what happens when you get a little production out of the middle of your lineup? The one disconcerting thing about all this is that both Hunter and Cuddyer have a history of being slump-prone players, and the thought of them both falling into a rut would mean another long run of incompetence for this offense. Here's hoping that even when they cool off, both can at least keep collecting extra-base hits and driving in runs at a reasonable rate.
* Luis Rodriguez started at third base in place of Tony Batista and batted leadoff in front of Luis Castillo. Elrod ignited the Twins' first inning six-run rally with a single to lead off the game and ended up collecting a pair of hits and a walk in the game. In today's Star Tribune, Ron Gardenhire said the following about the decision to start Rodriguez over Batista:
"With [Carlos] Silva throwing sinkers, we're trying to get a little more movement in the infield, especially on the left side," Gardenhire said. "I know Luis moves around a little better than Batista side-to-side, and he always seems to throw out better at-bats, too."So, let me get this straight. Gardy will readily admit that Rodriguez plays better defense than Batista and has better at-bats. If he recognizes these facts, then why on Earth would he continue to start Batista at third? Is it Batista's superior power? No, that can't be. Elrod currently has just one fewer homer in 70 fewer at-bats and has a 50-point advantage over T-Bat in slugging percentage.
I supported the Batista signing in the offseason to some degree, sort of a "let's see what he can do" sort of thing. Batista got off to a decent start, but now, with 100 at-bats under his belt, I think we can plainly see that he's just not going to give us much offensively. He's not striking out a ton and his walk rate has been up a bit, but he's still been making a lot of outs and his advertised home run power has been absent for an entire month. On top of that, he is a horrible defender. Let's give Elrod a string of starts at third base and see what the kid can do.
* In the same Star Tribune article, it is mentioned that Scott Bakers scheduled Friday start will be bumped back, meaning Johan Santana, Brad Radke, and Carlos Silva will face the Chicago White Sox this weekend and Baker will pitch the finale of the four-game series on Monday. The interesting thing about this is that it pushes Kyle Lohse's next start back, and every indication is that if Lohse struggles today he will lose his spot in the rotation to Francisco Liriano, who would start Tuesday. This is very good news. It is becoming increasingly clear the Lohse can't get it done right now, and Liriano would be a massive upgrade in the rotation.
* Speaking of Silva, he continued to stink last night. His poor performance was overshadowed by the Twins' offensive explosion, but the fact remains that allowing five runs (four earned) and 11 hits over six innings, including back-to-back home runs, is not a good performance. Getting Lohse out of the rotation would be a good start, but eventually something is going to have to be done about Silva, who has shown no signs of improvement and has apparently lost his ability to do the things that gave him success last year. Last night, Silva had a 9:13 groundball-to-fly ball ratio, which means his pitches still are not doing what he wants them to. I guess that he's still not "fixed" yet after all.
* Justin Morneau has finally shaken the Mendoza nickname, as he went 3-for-5 with a pair of home runs (including one against left-hander C.J. Wilson) to raise his average to .224.
* On another note, congratulations to Matt LeCroy, who hit his first home run of the season for the Nationals last night in a 7-1 victory over the Reds. LeCroy is hitting a solid .281/.343/.469 in 32 at-bats this year.
Lohse versus Vicente Padilla, today, 1:05. Will it be Lohse's last outing in the Twins' starting rotation? We'll see.