After defeating the Athletics 4-3 last night, the Twins have now won three straight games coming out of the All-Star break. They have essentially dominated the Athletics in those three games, rarely not holding a lead. The offense has been a bit spotty, but the one constant in the series so far for the Twins has been excellent starting pitching. Scott Baker delivered a very good start on Thursday night, Johan Santana was phenomenal on Friday night, and Carlos Silva continued the trend with a terrific outing last night. A glance at his pitching line will tell you that Silva was merely good (6.2 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K), but in this case the stats certainly do not tell the whole story.
Silva set down the A's 1-2-3 in the first inning, and then after giving up a walk and a single to start the second, he retired Mark Ellis on an RBI ground-out, the first of 15 consecutive Oakland batters Silva would put away. Silva entered the seventh inning with just one hit allowed, but proceeded to put a couple runners aboard with a walk and a double. He left the game with two outs and runners on second and third, and if Dennys Reyes could have done his job and retired the lefty Mark Kotsay, Silva would have been charged with just one earned run over 6 2/3 innings, which would have lowered his season ERA from 4.58 to 4.40. Unfortunately, the one pitch Reyes threw in the game went for a two-run double into the gap in left-center. Silva was charged with both runs, and his ERA came down just three hundredths of a run, to 4.55. Nevertheless, do not be mistaken -- it was a great outing by Mr. Silva, who I maintain would be a sensible trading piece for the Twins.
The Twins have allowed just eight runs in three games against the A's, and that number could have been lower if not for a couple bad pitches by Reyes and Juan Rincon. I'm not sure how much of that can be attributed to great pitching by the Twins and how much can be attributed to a struggling A's offense, which had averaged just 2.2 runs per game over their last six games heading into the break; either way, it's hard not be encouraged by the way Twins' starters have thrown the ball over the past three days.
The Twins will make a bid for a four-game sweep today in a game that will certainly be their most daunting challenge yet, as the inconsistent Boof Bonser goes against Dan Haren, who recently started for the American League in the All-Star Game. It's a good bet that Bonser will have to continue the Twins' recent trend of great starting pitching in order for a sweep to be possible.