Once again, as it has over the last few weeks, that feeling of nausea creeps up and it seems like the Twins' season is ready to fall apart before our eyes. Then, as they have since June, the Twins pull it together and win a big game. That was last night, in quick summary.
The Twins started the day two games back in the Wild Card race, with the Boston Red Sox nipping on their heels. After the Bo-Sox delivered a historical bashing in a double-header against New York and victory over the White Sox by the Twins, they only have a game between them and the White Sox. And naturally, with an even bigger game today, who else is on the mound but Brad Radke.
Boy, does that sound good. Radke, who has been amazing despite the lingering pain in his shoulder, gives the Twins the best chance against Jon Garland and the White Sox, and with Johan Santana on the mound Sunday, a sweep could possible mean a season-changing series.
However, since that game has obviously not been played yet, let's look at last night's game. The victory once again went to Pat Neshek, who came in with runners on first and second and one out and got out of the jam easily. Neshek has been simply incredible since coming up from the minors. He has a 3-0 record, a 0.84 ERA, a .100 BAA, a 0.47 WHIP, and 32 strikeouts in 21 1/3 innings (that goes along with only 3 walks!). It cannot be emphasized anymore how valuable he has been to the club.
Boof Bonser started the game and his first few innings were great before he gave up a two-run shot to Jermaine Dye in the fourth and later a run-scoring single to Paul Konerko in the sixth. Bonser lasted 5 and 1/3 innings, struck out five, walked two, and gave up six hits and three runs. He didn't get the win, as the Twins didn't break the tie until the bottom of the sixth, but he pitched well enough to give the Twins a chance to win.
Offensively, the Twins had many heroes. Justin Morneau went 2-for-4 with two RBI singles, bringing his RBI total to 106 on the year. Morneau's RBI hit in the eighth off Neal Cotts was particularly fun because Brian Anderson reverted to old "Chicago White Sox-style defense" with his blooper-esque error, allowing another run to score. Nick Punto returned to the lineup with a bang, stealing a base and going 3-for-5 with an RBI. Of course, Torii Hunter had the big hit of the night, breaking the tie with a tie-breaking solo home run off of Chicago starter Freddy Garcia in the sixth.
I have to give it to Hunter and Garcia, because Garcia just wasn't very smart with Hunter. Hunter had two extra-base hits on the night against Garcia and in both cases, after failing with other pitches (or, in the first at-bat, after a breaking ball that Hunter flailed on), Garcia threw fastballs straight into Hunter's wheelhouse. If anything tells the story of why Garcia has a 4.87 ERA and has allowed 27 home runs this year, it's that. He has lost velocity on his fastball, but has not made adjustments and clearly is not pitching even close to the level of last year.
Needless to say, the Twins had a huge win last night and most everything went right for the them. With Radke on the hill today, I don't see a reason why that shouldn't continue.