It's been an awful long wait it seems, but the Twins finally broke out of their offensive funk in the last night's game, winning 11-4 and managing two home runs, their first since the end of July. Of course, it's good news that the offense broke out, but it's unfortunate that the "breakout" game had to come against such a pathetic batch of pitchers. Instead of being a breakout game, it seems that the offense did precisely what it was supposed to do: beating up on bad Kansas City pitching and giving Johan Santana his first victory in some time.
The best thing about last night's victory, offense-wise, was that the Twins 3-through-6 hitters, who had been struggling, had a much better game. Joe Mauer, Michael Cuddyer, Justin Morneau and Torii Hunter went a combined 10-for-20 with eight RBI, six runs scored and five extra-base hits, including home runs from Cuddyer and Hunter (and one from Morneau that was incorrectly called back). Considering the recent struggles of the Twins' most important bats, it's good to see them come alive even if it is against the soft-tossing Odalis Perez.
The lowlight in the victory was no surprise: Nick Punto. He did have a double, a walk and a much-touted sacrifice, but he also made two poor plays in the field, including an embarrassingly bad throwing error. Considering his average is still at .210, there isn't much of an excuse to put him in the second spot in the lineup. While Ron Gardenhire made a good move in putting Jason Bartlett in the leadoff spot instead of Jason Tyner, he followed it with a boneheaded move by not leaving Punto at the bottom of the order. Alexi Casilla is still pretty raw, but I'd rather see Casilla in front of Mauer if need be. Of course, it would be smarter just to move Mauer, Cuddyer, Morneau, and Hunter up a spot and leave the 7-9 spots as weak as they have been before. If Punto is going to be an atrocious hitter, the least he can do is field and be left in a position where he gets the least at-bats possible. It's the fault of his manager for not making that so.
As for the pitching, Santana surprisingly lacked dominant stuff against the Royals offense, going six innings and allowing eight hits, two walks, and two runs while striking out six. The six strikeouts aren't a bad number, but allowing ten baserunners is very unlike the typical second-half Santana. Hopefully, he starts to be his thoroughly dominant self very soon, but even last night's Santana is still pretty great.
While last night's victory wasn't exactly a convincing wakeup game for the offense, it may have gotten some important bats going and it was another needed victory against a weak opponent. Today, Matt Garza takes on recently acquired right-hander Kyle Davies in the series finale. Davies wasn't particularly great in Atlanta, as evidenced by his 5.76 ERA in the NL, and his first start in the AL wasn't great either, as he allowed five runs in three innings to the Yankees. Davies is homer-prone, as he has allowed 13 home runs in 89 innings, and he walks way too many, as evidenced by his ugly 61/47 strikeout-to-walk ratio. This is another starter the Twins should have success against, if they are patient enough. If they do, then maybe last night really was a rallying cry. Too bad for Twins fans that once there are reasons for optimism, the team goes and makes a ridiculous move like this.