Once again, as has happened for basically the month of June, the Twins won as did the White Sox and the Tigers. The Twins have won seven straight now yet still find themselves 11 games out of the AL Central lead. On the bright side for Twins fans, at least the Indians are 18 games back....that is at least some consolation, right?
But, rather, than discussing how awful it is that the Twins are winning and can't gain any ground, its still a blast now to watch them. Johan Santana, despite how good Liriano has been, is probably AL Pitcher of the Month for June. He went 5-0 with a 1.05 ERA in six starts. To help get a picture of how dominant he has been already, last year he was 1-2 in June with a 3.93 ERA and in 2004, he was 4-1 with a 2.39 ERA. However, its not just June he has improved on. In 2004, he was an awful 1-3 with a 5.79 ERA in May, but this year he was 3-1 with a 2.72 ERA.
Currently, he has a 2.59 ERA. If he goes on his usual post-All Star tear, as the last two years he has gone 9-2 with a 1.59 last year and 13-0 with a 1.21 ERA and .154 BAA in 2004. Basically, if he gets stats somewhere in between those and likely picks up a win in his next start against KC, Johan could end up with 21-22 wins, a 1.90 ERA, and around 250 Ks. In other words, one of the best years baseball has seen. The thing is, as odd as those kind of seasons are, it seems highly likely to happen. Johan is locked in and I am absolutely pumped to see what he can do.
Besides Johan's (and later, Nathan's) dominance of the Dodgers, the lineup just continues to produce. By that, I mean mainly the young middle-of-the-order pack. The Mauer-Cuddyer-Morneau combo produced seven hits in eleven at-bats yesterday with two RBI and five runs scored between them. Morneau, who went 3 for 4 with two doubles and an RBI, is just continuing to hit the cover off the ball in June. His average is now up to .288, with a .558 slugging percentage good for 9th in the AL and of course those 64 RBI, second in the AL. He is after yesterday hitting .352/.392/.703 in June with 9 HRs and 27 RBI. Having a .900 OPS is huge for Justin and great to see as a fan. At this point, its difficult to call this a fluke. Morneau probably won't finish with a .288 average, but he'll probably hit .270 with 35-40 HRs and definitely 100-plus RBI.
And, lets not forget about Mr. Mauer. Mauer went 2 for 3 with a walk and a double. He is now hitting .392/.458/.538. That .458 OBP now leads the AL. Simply amazing what Mauer has done. He was 11 for 13 in the series and is back to being on fire again. There is no way that Guillen or the fans can keep this man off the All Star team. Morneau and Nathan may be long shots, but Mauer, Santana, and Liriano should all have their names ready to be announced. They are way too good to be held out of it.
And please, lets not read too much into Torii's grand slam. It was great to win, but Torii's stats are still way too low right now to justify his salary and he hasn't been consistent at all in over a month. He may go on a tear now, but I still wonder whether or not its worth it to keep him around. Tommorow is an off day, so lets go ahead and prepare for the weekend series against those Brewers!