Monday, August 14, 2006

Radke Stops the Bleeding

After three of the ugliest games the Twins have played this season since the awful 33-1 series against the Tigers, who would stop the bleeding? Brad Radke, of course. Old Reliable, just as he did against the Tigers last weekend, stepped up in a big game and pitched his heart out. (Or battled his tail off, in Gardy-speak.) Radke, who once held an ERA near 8 and was making us think about his sad retirement too early, has been tremendous as of late.

Since the All-Star break, Radke is 4-1 with a 3.32 ERA, a .248 BAA, a 1.00 WHIP, a 19:3 K/BB ratio in 38 innings and has come up with two big wins in August. After a scare just a few weeks ago with his shoulder, Brad has nearly taken back his ace role on the Twins staff. With Johan Santana being so human lately, Radke has stepped it up when it matters most, and that's with a shoulder that hurts so much he can't even play catch. If anyone out there has any question about Radke's heart and compassion for this game, those questions should now be answered. This man is all guts and plenty of glory right now.

As nice as it was to see Radke come through with another strong outing yesterday, it was even nicer to see the offense come around and put five runs on the board after scoring just one in the first three games of the series. Yesterday Mr. Nelson wrote that the Twins "need to get their top hitters like Mauer, Morneau and Cuddyer back on track," and while Mauer didn't play yesterday, Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer definitely came around. Cuddyer had a solo homer and a walk while Morneau, who had collected just three hits in his last 19 at-bats prior to Sunday, was 2-for-3 with two RBI to bring his impressive total to 103 on the year.

The recently maligned Jason Tyner had a big game for the Twins as well. Tyner picked up two extra-base hits in the game (a double and a triple) which were just his second and third in 114 at-bats on the season. That gives him a .316/.355/.351 line, which remains an empty batting average, but he certainly helped the Twins tonight.

Today is an off day for the Twins. Still 2 and 1/2 games back in the Wild Card race, the Twins have six more games in their homestand left starting Tuesday against Cleveland and ending with a weekend series against the White Sox. As the number of games remaining continues to shrink, each victory becomes more and more important. Every game they fall back destroys their fading chances to reach the post-season. They need to win both of these series to put themselves in good position. If there are any more series like this one against the Blue Jays, it's going to be ugly.