Though the Brewers had lost four straight and the first game of the series to the Twins, it was not surprising that they bounced back and finally claimed a victory over Minnesota this season. Still, both games were mainly won on costly fielding errors, so it’s hardly been pretty for either team.
To be honest, the Twins were pretty fortunate to win Tuesday night’s game, but they took advantage of two Brewers’ errors to emerge with a 7-3 victory. Watching the game though, it’s hard to believe the scoreline was that unbalanced. The game just seemed to drag and drag as we witnessed Francisco Liriano struggling once again. He showed massive control issues, giving up hits and walks, and constantly throwing balls down low and in the dirt. It certainly wasn’t much fun for Joe Mauer behind the plate, either. Still, surprisingly enough, Liriano only gave up three runs in five innings and the bullpen was impeccable (it’s rare we get to say that as Twins fans), as RA Dickey, Matt Guerrier, and Joe Nathan threw four run-free innings between them. Carlos Gomez had a great night though, going 3-for-5 with two RBIs.
Wednesday night saw Nick Blackburn pitch well again in a tight contest where neither team’s offense truly got going. The Twins took a 3-1 lead in the sixth with a Jason Kubel home run, then a Joe Crede RBI double scored Michael Cuddyer, who had also hit a double a few pitches earlier. But with two outs in the bottom of the eighth and Minnesota holding a 3-2 lead, a couple of costly errors cost the Twins the game. Jason Kendall doubled and JJ Hardy scored when Brendan Harris’ throw was wide
of home plate and bounced away from Joe Mauer. So Kendall broke
for third, but Nick Blackburn flung the ball into left
field, which allowed Kendall to trot home for the go-ahead run. Harris and
Blackburn were each charged with errors on the play, and Brewers’ closer Trevor Hoffman did the rest to end a frustrating evening for the Twins. At least Joe Mauer ended his 0-for-12 hitless streak with a single in the seventh that deflected off pitcher Mitch Stetter.
The rubber match is on Thursday with Scott Baker facing off against Milwaukee’s Mike Burns who was just called up from Triple-A Nashville and gets his first start of the year. The Detroit Tigers keep winning and are opening up a lead in the AL Central, while the Twins are struggling to even keep their heads bobbing around the .500 mark. Minnesota will be hoping to at least salvage something from another disappointing series on the road before moving onto St Louis.
Minnesota went 0-6 before I went on vacation to Hawaii. By the time I got back, they’d gone 6-1. I think that’s a message that I need to live on Oahu for the rest of my life, so if anyone’s up for paying me my current salary, buying me a house there, and setting me up with a decent pension, I’d be happy to make the move.
Apart from the 20-1 drubbing of the White Sox, the Twins still lost that series to Chicago, but swept the Brewers in the first interleague weekend of the year. They’ve won two out of four against Boston so far, but it’ll be tough to make it a series win with Josh Beckett on the mound for the Red Sox today.
Evidently, the Twins have been hitting well lately, but they’ll still have to improve their form away from home to be truly competitive. But I’m happy to have returned from vacation to find Minnesota back at the .500 mark and leap-frogging the Royals in the AL Central as I get back to studying baseball again after a week or so ‘off duty’.
Before I go on vacation, some interesting news just emerged. Left handed bullpen pitcher Craig Breslow was just claimed off waivers by the Oakland A’s. To be honest, they’re welcome to him. He hadn’t done much in a Twins uniform, going 1-2 with a 6.28 ERA in 17 games, but I thought he’d be the more likely to ‘come around’ than useless righty Louis Ayala, who pretty much makes me cower under the blanket in fear every time he steps up on the mound to pitch. I’m wondering how much longer Ayala is going to last.
In Breslow’s place, the Twins have called up right hander Anthony Swarzak who’ll probably be the starting pitcher for Saturday’s interleague match-up against the Brewers. Glen Perkins will be back soon enough though, but I wonder if he’ll re-join the starting line-up or be expected to take up a relief spot for a while?
Minnesota has now lost their last five in a row, so it’ll be up to Francisco Liriano to step-up against Chicago and stop the losing streak. But to be honest, I’m taking a few days off from rigorously following the Twins. We definitely need some time apart.
The Minnesota Twins are coming off a series sweep by the Yankees. The Chicago White Sox are coming off a series sweep by the Blue Jays. Minnesota have just put starting pitcher Glen Perkins on the 15-day DL and called up relief-pitcher Sean Henn from Triple-A Rochester. It’s not certain yet who’ll take Perkins’ place in the pitching rotation though. Whoever it is, they will likely be the starter on Saturday against the Brewers. Perhaps it will be RA Dickey. Perhaps they’ll ressurect Sandy Koufax out of retirement and put him in a Twins uniform. I’d like to see one of the hot young pitchers like Anthony Swarzak or Kevin Mulvey called up to make their major-league debuts… seriously, what have we got to lose? But it has been remarked that these young arms are “not quite ready” which is ironic considering how ill-prepared our ‘older arms’ have looked in the bullpen this year.
The White Sox have gone 2-8 in their last 10 games but Minnesota should realize that a wounded Chicago could be a troublesome prospect. They have a nasty habit of waking up when playing the Twins at Cellular Field. I’m remaining cautiously optimistic about our chances Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, but I go on vacation Thursday anyway, so will only be observing from afar.
As expected, Justin Verlander pitched a great game Thursday, with an incredible career-high 13 strikeouts. Everyone’s been talking about Zack Greinke this season, but Verlander has thoroughly looked the part recently. After the crazy antics of the previous night, it wasn’t surprising that today’s game was a fairly low key affair at first, which the Tigers broke open in the sixth inning with five runs. But of course, this is baseball…
Tigers manager Jim Leyland took out Verlander in the seventh inning because he’d thrown 120+ pitches. He’d given up a Brian Buscher base hit and a Nick Punto walk (score: 5-0), but he still looked visibly upset, not surprisingly after such a domineering performance. Cue the Tigers bullpen meltdown, with the Twins scoring six runs to take a 6-5 lead, and just like that, Verlander doesn’t get a result, no more runs scored, and Joe Nathan had a quick and easy ninth to close out the game.
Despite the satisfaction of a series sweep against Detroit, the Twins now face a tricky set of games to round out May. 10 of their 17 upcoming games (without a day off) will be on the road, and their opponents will include the New York Yankees, Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago White Sox, Boston Red Sox, and Tampa Bay Rays. Gulp. If Minnesota can make it through that bunch more or less around the .500 mark, I think they’ll have done a good job, but it will be a very testing end to the month for sure.