Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Twins 6. Indians 5

In Monday's post, I was a little critical of Michael Cuddyer's lack of discipline at the plate. Yeah, that remains a problem, but man has that guy been an incredible force in the middle of the Twins' lineup since mid-April. Cuddyer hit a two-run homer last night and in the 10th inning had a huge single that put Torii Hunter at third base representing the winning run with one out (Hunter would score on a Justin Morneau sac fly). Cuddyer has a .984 OPS, and it's looking less and less like a fluke with each great game. I've long been exasperated by Cuddy's inability to string together a full solid season, but now it looks like he's well on his way to doing so.

Johan Santana was on the hill for the Twins last night, and, for the first time in seven starts, he wasn't particularly dominant. Santana gave up five runs (four earned) on nine hits over seven innings while striking out five. To his credit, Johan did pull it together and collect a couple huge strikeouts to get out of the seventh inning while Jesse Crain warmed up in the bullpen. Getting those outs and keeping Crain out of the game may have preserved the Twins' chance to win.

The game itself was pretty wild. The Twins went up 4-0 early on a Juan Castro two-run double and the Cuddyer homer. The Indians rallied back with two runs in the fifth and three more in the sixth, putting them ahead by a run. The Twins tied it up again in the bottom half of the sixth with Morneau scoring on a GIDP by Tony Batista. After that, the Twins' lineup went into a state of hibernation. In innings 7-9, the Twins' hitters were 0-for-9 with five strikeouts. The only baserunner during that stretch was Joe Mauer, who walked in the seventh. Fortunately, the Twins' pitching from the seventh inning on was very effective and held the Indians at bay long enough for the offense to rally and win it in the 10th.

One performance that was particularly jaw-dropping was that of Joe Nathan. Nathan pitched the ninth and 10th innings, facing six batters and striking out five of them. With all due respect to Santana, Nathan might be the best pitcher on the Twins. And with his two innings of work last night, he's still thrown one less on the year than Willie Eyre. Brilliant bullpen management, Mr. Gardenhire.

* On another note, Matt Garza made his second start at Double-A New Britain yesterday. His line? 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 9 K. This kid is for real.

9 comments:

zooom said...

The problem with last nights game is the fact that the human rally killer, Juan Castro, got a couple key hits. I can just hear Gardy... " We just need him to provide a solid glove and knock us in three or four RBI's per month. "
That and Batista's big game the other night, I fear we are stuck with these two at least through the all star break.... argh!!!

TheBentKangaroo said...

I guess what you're saying is that Nathan has better stuff than Santana, and you're probably right. But would Nathan have that stuff if he was asked to pitch six innings? Even if he had the stamina to go six, would his stuff be as electric? Do closers go all out, where as starters keep some strength in the tank for when they need that big strikeout?

Either way, Liriano might give Nathan a run for best stuff. But after last night...wow. Those balls were just dropping off the table.

Greg S. said...

Nathan has that great fast ball that was working at 95-97 last night. But when he has that breaking ball working, WOW. That was the best I've seen him throw that pitch.

Santana was not sharp last night. From the first inning he was having a problem spotting his fast ball. When hitters don't fear the fastball, and can sit on the off speed pitches, Santana can be hit.

Nick M. said...

I completely agree about Castro. I was at the game with my mother and brother and I mean, I know it annoyed the Twins fans around me, but every time he got a hit, it would be like "Oh no. Great. Another four weeks with this guy." I mean, also, Batista's "defense" and "bat" last night were awful. Everytime I see these guys out there, I'm actually asking for something bad to happen just so Rodriguez, Bartlett, and even Punto get chances out there. Gardy is too much of a knuckle-headed moron to see when a guy like Castro needs to be let go. Great. A RBI double. So what? He'll GIDP next time and he still hits .225. Even my mom figures that one out easily.

Nick N. said...

It's always difficult to compare starters and closers. That's why the Cy Young race was difficult for me last year... who had the better year, Santana or Mariano Rivera? (Of course, Bartolo Colon should not have even been in ths discussion, but I digress...) Let's just say that Santana and Nathan are both extremely good at what they do.

SBG said...

You know what? I don't think Michael Cuddyer is worth a damn in right field despite his arm. And I'm not saying that to be a jerk. I mean it.

Nick N. said...

I know what you mean SBG. He made a really bone-headed play today throwing to second instead of the cutoff man and it allowed an extra run to score (not that it made much of a difference in the end). He does have a terrific arm, but he gets really bad jumps and doesn't seem to instinctively know what to do with the ball when he gets it. I think the alignment we might see next year could include Kubel in RF and Cuddyer in LF.

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