With their 5-1 victory over the Royals yesterday, the Twins sealed a fourth consecutive road series victory and moved two games above .500 for the first time all season. With the Tigers losing in Oakland by the same score, the Twins moved within three games of first place and will have a chance to vault into a first-place tie this weekend, when they face the Tigers at the Metrodome.
Glen Perkins picked up the victory in yesterday's game, though he was none too dominant. The left-hander allowed just one run over seven innings, but did surrender 10 hits while managing only one strikeout. It has been a very up-and-down year for Perkins; he was dominant over his first three starts, fairly wretched over his next five before going on the disabled list with a shoulder injury, and has pitched quite well since returning from the DL. This breaks down to some pretty interesting month-by-month splits:
April: 4 starts, 2.48 ERA, 0 HR allowed
May: 4 starts, 10.00 ERA, 6 HR allowed
June: 4 starts, 2.67 ERA, 1 HR allowed
Perkins' shoulder issues cropped up in May so it's pretty easy to excuse his performance during that month; during April and June his results have been fantastic. I don't think Perkins is as good as those April/June numbers suggest, and a fly ball pitcher who strikes out as few batters as he does is bound to hit rough patches even when healthy, but it's hard not to be encouraged but what we've seen from him. All in all, I think Perkins' current .500 record and 4.38 ERA are fairly indicative of the type of pitcher he is, but that's just dandy production from a dirt-cheap No. 5 starter.
Offensively, the Twins were hardly overwhelming but they got the job done. Joe Mauer broke out of his recent mini-slump by reaching base in all five of his plate appearances. Michael Cuddyer ripped his 12th homer and walked twice, and continues to look very much like the 2006 version of himself. The rest of the team was pretty quiet offensively, going just 4-for-31 with zero extra-base hits, which marks a continuation of a disturbing offensive trend for the Twins.
During the nine-game road trip they just completed, the Twins averaged only 4.1 runs per game. That the team still managed a very good 6-3 record during that span is certainly a testament to how well the pitching staff performed, but that type of run production isn't going to cut it going forward. Hopefully the return to the Metrodome this weekend will jolt some life into this offense.