Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sweet Seventeen

The Twins offense, as most fans can attest by now, is almost always hairsplittingly inconsistent. The series against the Mets was the latest reminder of how quickly the Twins offense can come to a grinding halt. Last night's game was a reminder of how fast the offense can picked itself back up given the right opportunity.

That opportunity came in facing Josh Johnson. Last year, Johnson was a rookie sensation, going 12-7 with a 3.10 ERA and 133 Ks in 157 innings. Johnson's impressive campaign came alongside those of Dan Uggla, Anibal Sanchez, and Rookie of the Year Hanley Ramirez. In his two starts back, Johnson has struggled to find the strike zone. In his first start of the year against the White Sox, Johnson gave up nine hits and four walks in 3 2/3 innings. In last night's start, he followed that pattern, giving up eight hits and three walks in only three innings of work.

Thankfully, the Twins made not only Johnson,but also Wes Obermueller and Renyel Pinto victims of their offensive onslaught. While they posted seven runs against Johnson, they also got nine hits in fivetotal innings from Obermueller and Pintowhile scoring four more runs. In total, the Twins had seventeen hits, with Jeff Cirillo picking up four and Jason Kubel and Torii Hunter getting three each.

While Hunter's near-cycle was a standout for some (he was only missing the home run) and it was also important for the Twins to get Cirillo's bat going (In five games since June 15th, Cirillo has raised his batting average from .207 to .284), seeing Kubel go 3-for-4 with two RBI, three runs scored, and a walk is likely the most encouraging offensive performance in the victory. Kubel is now hitting .250/.300/.396, which obviously is nothing too special, but he has slowly been working his way up after a forgettable start and his approach at the plate as of late has been significantly better. Watching Kubel go with the ball and knock singles to the opposite field isa sign that he is on his way back to the form that made him such a dominant hitter in the minors and majors in 2004.

As usual, it is hopeful to think that the Twins have finally got their offense going with this scoring output. However, there is a chance today with Johan Santana facing Dontrelle Willisthat the Twins will participate in yet another pitching duel. While Willis has a 4.90 ERA this year, which has given rise to the theory that the league has caught up to his deceptive delivery,the Twins have never seen him before and lefties with such funky motions do not bode well for the Twins.