Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Tag-Team Outing

A 7-1 score and a Twins victory might entice some people into thinking that the Twins offense had a good game last night, but that wasn't quite the case. Johan Santana and Justin Morneau were essentially responsible for the victory. Beyond their contributions, Torii Hunter had a late two-run home run and Pat Neshek and Joe Nathan struck out five Rangers in two innings.

Morneau provided almost all the Twins' offense with two home runs and five RBI. In the fourth, he hit a two-run homer to give the Twins the lead and in the following inning, he hit a three-run blast to push the Twins' lead to four runs. With the two big home runs, Morneau is second in the AL for homers with 13 to go along with 32 RBI and he now has a very good .285/.362/.570 line that in some ways feels more impressive than what he did last year. At this point in May last year, Morneau looked like he might have a trip back to Triple-A in his future, but this year, he is now continuing to establish himself as one of the premier sluggers in the AL.

As for Santana, he followed what was a very good outing against the Indians last Thursday (that resulted in a terribly disappointing 2-0 loss) in which he struck out 11 by striking out 13 Rangers in seven innings while giving up four hits, one run, and two walks. Most impressive was not just the 95-mph fastballs combined with that great changeup, bemusing hitter after hitter, but that all 13 strikeouts came on swings, which is certainly a testament to Santana's dominance against the Rangers last night. With that, Santana is now 5-4 with a 3.05 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, .221 OBA, and 80 K in 65 innings to put him in the MLB lead.

Santana's only real blemish so far year, other than the 5-4 record he clearly doesn't deserve, is the 10 home runs he has allowed so far. That puts him on pace for 35 on the season. In Santana's last five starts, seven of the nine runs he has given up have been on home runs. The good news for the Twins fans is it hasn't been a problem, as only one of those home runs was not a solo home run. Considering that Santana is striking out over 11 batters per nine innings, it would seem he is well on his way to his best season ever.

Despite Morneau and Santana's efforts, there aren't too many signs that the Twins are beginning to show some consistency. Morneau, Santana, Hunter, Neshek, and Nathan have all been quite good this season. Consider that the rest of the lineup went only 5-for-25 and it would seem that the Twins have a few more games to win before getting too excited. Good thing that Boof Bonser takes the hill this afternoon, as he was just as good as Santana in his Friday outing against the Brewers, striking out 11. Lets hope for some more double-digit K's.

4 comments:

beth said...

While Cuddyer only got one hit last night, I wouldn't discount that his two walks were both very important. He was on base each time for the others to hit him in.

Nick M. said...

Thats true, but I don't think I tried to single himout for offensive failure. Rather, a lot more can be said about Morneau's big two home runs being a major factor in the win. Walks are a factor, but not the same way home runs are.

Still, I apologize if I made it seem like a few others didn't make offensive contributions. (Cuddyer just walked in his first bat today) I merely meant to point out that Twins fans should take last night's seven runs as a sign that they are getting into an offensive groove. Instead, Morneau is in that groove.

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