Sunday, April 29, 2007

Shift of Power

After letting mediocre (or worse) starting pitchers like Jorge De La Rosa, Jeremy Sowers, Fausto Carmona, Odalis Perez and Zack Greinke pitch deep into games with dominating performances against them over the past week, the Twins jumped all over 2006 AL Rookie of the Year Justin Verlander yesterday, scoring five runs (three earned) on eight hits with a walk and no strikeouts before chasing the hard-throwing righthander after three innings. In all, the Twins scored 11 runs against the Tigers' staff, picking up their third straight victory and guaranteeing an important early-season series victory in Detroit.

The Twins' offensive outburst was unexpected to say the least, seeing as how they had struggled as of late and Verlander had entered the game with a 2.08 ERA and 1.04 WHIP on the season. Several Twins had encouraging days at the plate. Justin Morneau, who had struggled a bit in the past two series against Cleveland and Kansas City, went 3-for-4 with a double and his sixth home run. Joe Mauer, who put the Twins ahead on Friday night with a pinch-hit two-run single, also had three hits and hit his first homer of the season off of reliever Fernando Rodney in the ninth. Nick Punto raised his batting average above .200 with a pair of hits, while Jason Kubel went 2-for-5 with three RBI. Torii Hunter singled twice, extending his hitting streak to 13 games.

Meanwhile, Carlos Silva picked up his second victory. He was far from dominant, allowing 10 hits over six innings of work, but he gave up just three runs and was credited with another quality start. The bullpen was very solid, as Pat Neshek, Dennys Reyes and Glen Perkins allowed just one hit and needed only 32 pitches between them to work through the final three innings.

After losing five of seven games against the Royals and Indians over the past week, the Twins have come into Detroit and won their first two against the Tigers, and now they have a shot at the sweep with Johan Santana taking the mound against Mike Maroth tomorrow afternoon. I would say the Twins will have a hard time winning this game against a junk-throwing lefty like Maroth, but as unpredictable as they've been lately, who knows?