Sunday, May 07, 2006

Twins 7, Tigers 6

In the bottom of the ninth last night, Luis Castillo drove Shannon Stewart in for the winning run in a 7-6 victory over the Tigers. It's the first victory for the Twins in 11 tries against the big three (Indians, White Sox, Tigers). And the credit should go to Stewart. After all, his triple tied the game and put a runner on third with one out. Dick and Bert were heaping praise on Castill and quickly award him the Player of the Game award, but that's just not right. It's wonderful that Castillo got the game-winning RBI single, scooting a grounder past a drawn-in infield, but Stewart basically won the game with his triple and Magglio Ordonez helped with his awful play out in right.

The great trend here is that of Twins patience. In past three games, the Twins have walked six times, two times, and four times. Those are good signs, since it paid off the last two nights (though, obviously not during Thursday's embarassment). Six runs Friday night and seven last night against the best pitching staff in the American League so far. Those are clearly good signs.

Of course, before the great comeback, the Twins ruined several rallies by grounding into double plays. Three, to be exact, from Tony Batista, Rondell White, and Stewart himself. White still looks ugly, with his .154 average and .332 OPS. In his last seven games, it's not like things have really got better. He's hitting .176/.176/.235 with a double and two RBI.

And Torii Hunter, who was great tonight, continues to be frustrating underneath. It's tough knowing that this guy killed the offense for weeks before he caught fire lately. He is now hitting .241/.296/.464 with seven home runs and twenty RBI. That isn't too bad in terms of run production, since that gives him a pace for 38 homers and 108 RBI. The problem is, for a streaky guy like Torii, it's tough to know what will happen. It's likely he won't be suited for the cleanup all year, but hopefully he helps now and someone steps up (Rondell?) is the year goes on.

On the other side of things, the pitching didn't get that much better. Scott Baker had a decent start, as he had good command and a solid fastball, striking out five in six innings of work, while giving up four runs. One of them should have been unearned, considering the ugly play Batista made in the second inning to give Carlos Guillen a double and allow Magglio Ordonez to score from first. Fransisco Liriano didn't fare too well, as he gave up two quick runs in the seventh before getting pulled in favor of Jesse Crain.

Crain, on the other hand, looks a lot better. He struck out the side in the eighth, mixing a fastball hitting the corners at 96-97 MPH and a very sharp-looking slider at 85 mph. It's a good sign if Crain can come back and start pitching the seventh effectively in front of Rincon and Nathan. That would potentially free up Liriano to move into the rotation in place of a guy like Lohse, who looks so awful.

Today should be interesting. With lefty Mike Maroth, who is 4-1 with a 1.78 ERA so far this year, on the mound, let's hope the Twins can continue to be patient. However, with Gardy likely keeping Morneau and Mauer in the lineup, they may not fare as well as they did against Rogers Friday night. Hopefully they won't have to with Johan Santana on the mound.