The Twins’ bats barely woke up all weekend when they lost two out of three at Seattle. True, they were facing an excellent pitching line-up of Rodriguez, Washburn, and Bedard, but even then, just a pitiful five runs in three games was all Minnesota could muster. Admittedly, the Mariners could only score seven themselves, but at least they won the series, and that’s what counts in the end.
On Friday night, Francisco Liriano pitched pretty well. He even got past the fourth inning for a change! But so did Felix Hernandez. In the end, the game went to extra innings, and the Twins were lucky to come out 2-1 winners. In the top of the 10th, Jason Kubel was robbed of a three-run homer due to an excellent catch by Franklin Gutierrez. Next, Joe Mauer was caught in a run-down at third base after a failed squeeze-play, and it seemed things just weren’t going to go our way. Then Matt Tolbert hit a deep fly ball which came off left-fielder Wladimir Balentien’s glove, and Justin Morneau scored, and that was pretty much it: a lucky break and a fortunate victory.
On Saturday, Nick Blackburn also pitched pretty well, but Minnesota squandered numerous chances to get runs home, and lost the game later when that man again, Ken Griffey Jr., got a clutch double that scored Ichiro from first. In the ninth, the Twins failed to get the tying run home, so once again it was a game of missed opportunities.
I didn’t see Sunday’s game, but the Twins lost 4-2, so I can’t really comment on what happened. I did read articles saying Minnesota went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring positions on Sunday, and 2-for-24 with runners in scoring positions over the entire series, which doesn’t surprise me, and has pretty much been the story of our season so far. That’s a statistic which will probably come back to haunt us if the Twins don’t make it to the post-season this year.
Now the Twins face a tough four-game series against the Oakland A’s. The Athletics have won their last six straight, including a sweep of the Orioles this weekend, and it looks like things have finally started to click for them after a fairly poor start to the season. So, it’s just our luck that the team with one of the worst road records in baseball now faces a resurgent team that’s just won its last six. It should be an interesting series. An unlikely four game sweep by the Twins would totally revive them of course, but if the A’s took four in a row instead (equally unlikely), it could really pump life into a season where they’ve struggled to even get close to .500. I’m guessing things are going to be pretty tight at the Coliseum, but who knows? Minnesota continue to see-saw from brilliant to incompetent with every game, so anything could happen, and probably will.
It was certainly entertaining watching the Twins on Friday and Saturday, especially the Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau show. In the fifth inning on Friday evening against the Mariners, Mauer stepped up and hit a solo home run to left field. Not to be outdone, Justin Morneau came up next and did exactly the same, but to opposite field. While back-to-back home runs are hardly uncommon in baseball, the very next evening against Seattle ace Felix Hernandez, Mauer and Morneau did exactly the same thing again, but this time in the third inning. Cue camera shots of the pair of them on the bench laughing and smiling like little kids trying to out-do each other.
Before Saturday’s game, Joe Mauer received both a Gold Glove and a Silver Bat for his brilliant performances last season. Here he is with two former Twins legends, Tony Oliva and Rod Carew.
Friday night, the Twins thumped the Mariners 11-0. Scott Baker pitched splendidly, but our offense truly shone that evening with Minnesota hitting an unprecedented four homers, the solo shots by Mauer and Morneu as mentioned above, and three-run shots by Brendan Harris and Brian Buscher. The Twins got their noses in front early and kept it that way, something they’d been failing to do all season. I hope this is a sign of better things to come.
Saturday was a closer affair, with the Twins beating out the Mariners 9-6. Once again, the Twins went ahead early, but this time Seattle was a little more resilient, and Francisco Liriano had a very tough fourth and fifth inning. Saturday’s game was dominated by Adrian Beltre, but not always for the right reasons. In the bottom of the fourth, he tried to tag Cuddyer at third then overthrew to first, which scored Cuddyer and put Buscher on third. Buscher scored on a Denard Span sacrifice fly, so Beltre’s mistake probably led to two Twins runs. His home run in the eighth could have meant trouble for the Twins, but the rest of the M’s line-up failed to capitalize, and Joe Nathan came out in the ninth to save it for Minnesota, and wrap up a series win.
Sunday will probably see Nick Punto back in the line-up, and Joe Mauer as the DH. Personally, I’d like to see Carlos Gomez get a chance to play a full game again. Completing the sweep against the Mariners and Erik Bedard today will be tough, but then again, if someone would’ve said the Twins will score 20 runs and hit seven home-runs in two games against Seattle, I’d have laughed like a goon.