Despite what seemed to be an important victory over the Angels Wednesday, the Twins managed to lose to one of the worst teams in baseball last night in what was nearly a blowout loss. Sadly, if not for Ramon Ortiz's six solid innings and a late three-run home run by Jason Kubel, the box score might have looked significantly uglier.
Ortiz's relief outing was a particular bright spot, as he followed Carlos Silva's ugly start. In three innings, Silva gave up nine hits, seven runs, and two walks while striking out only one. The Nationals, in all fairness, do have some good hitters, as Dmitri Young has been a good hitter so far this year (never mind the defense), Christian Guzman has been hitting over .300, and Ryan Church and Ryan Zimmerman are budding young stars. However, Silva wasn't giving up groundballs through the hole, but rather lots of well-hit balls and line drives.
Ortiz, on the other hand, threw one less pitch then Silva but went six innings, handling his mop-up role by giving the Twins some solid innings and giving the bullpen a rest. In those six innings, Ortiz gave up six hits and one run while striking out three and walking none. I'm not going to claim some great turnaround for Ortiz because of a mop-up job against the Nationals, but he certainly took care of business gave the Twins a chance as much as possible.
With that said, really the only offensive play that stood out for the Twins was Kubel's three-run home run. After the Twins had been pathetically shut down for six innings by Jason Simontacchi, Kubel hit a Morneau-esque blast to the upper deck in right field, giving more hope that Kubel is ultimately breaking out of his early season drought. As for the Twins, they managed 10 hits, but didn't score until the late innings, as they gave up opportunities early on. The other good news, despite the loss, is that Justin Morneau and Torii Hunter both went 2-for-4, with Hunter picking up an RBI. Both Morneau and Hunter struggled through the last road trip, so it would be very good news if they both started hitting again.
Good thing for the Twins that Johan Santana is on the mound today, taking on former Twins farmhand Levale Speigner. Speigner has been awful this year and only recently was placed in the rotation. On the year, he is 1-2 with a 9.10 ERA and a 2.20 WHIP in 28 2/3 innings, having given up 44 hits and 19 walks while striking out only 14. When Speigner entered the rotation from the bullpen, he had a 3.77 ERA, but since then, he has made four starts and given up 23 runs in 14 1/3 innings. In other words, this should be a guaranteed victory for the Twins. Should be...