Twins 2, Nationals 1
Twins 11, Nationals 2
Twins 9, Nationals 3
I'm a little off my schedule this week - I was supposed to have reconstructive knee surgery on Wednesday afternoon, but it was postponed due to an electrical problem at the hospital. My mom flew in to help me in my recovery, and since she is also a big Twins fan, we sat down to enjoy the rest of the game when we got home after dinner, then watched the Thursday finale together before heading off to my rescheduled surgery. I was in the hospital most of the day yesterday, deciding whether my pain was manageable enough to send me home (it was). I suspect I may have the time to blog a little more often in the coming weeks.
Coming home from a tough road trip, isn't it great to be able to face the worst team in the NL? You know you've got a chance for a sweep when Livan Hernandez can hold your opponent to 1 ER on 5 H in 7 IP. He needed just 77 pitches to reach that point, but Gardy perhaps remembered how quickly Livan's last good start (vs. CO) got out of hand in the late innings, and wisely turned the game over to Guerrier and Nathan. John Lannan pitched a very strong game for the Nationals, allowing just 2 R on the huge homer to Morneau. I hope Mauer and Morneau find their way into the All-Star game starting lineup - they have certainly been wonderfully consistent about getting on base and driving in runs.
Kevin Slowey delivered another quality start, despite not having his best stuff. He allowed another HR, but it was a solo shot, and otherwise he was able to work out the jams he got himself into. After walking the leadoff man in the 7th, Jesse Crain came in and loaded the bases with a BB and HBP, but also picked up 2 K and escaped unscathed. Then the Twins offense went off on the Nats' bullpen, lighting up 3 relievers for 8 ER on 8 H and 4 BB. There were bunt hits, triples, SFs, 2-out hits and walks. With Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer playing much better in June, the offense is very good when either Gomez or Casilla get on. It should be noted that Boof Bonser pitched the 9th inning, and, of course, allowed a run.
In the finale, it was great to see Gardy just let Perkins go for 8 IP. He wasn't having the greatest game, but the team built him a huge lead, so it wasn't too risky leaving him in there so long. I think it benefits him to be out there on the mound learning how to work with OK stuff and tiredness. He got hit pretty hard - Cuddyer made a couple of nice catches on liners to keep things under control, and he still missed his spots a lot, but I've got to think he's only going to get better. The Twins' 3-6 hitters went 7-15 with 3 BB and 7 R. Buscher is making a strong contribution in his first few games - I don't know whether the Twins will go back to Lamb or try to trade him. I like that Casilla, even though he's not getting hits the last few games, is still having productive ABs - drawing a walk, laying down a sacrifice, hitting a SF.
Span vs. Gomez
Denard Span has come back from his broken finger and picked up right where he left off at Rochester. In his first 3 games back he's gone 8-13 with 3 2B and 3 BB. His OPS continues to be in the high .900s. Gomez, meanwhile, has been quietly below average. In the month of June, he's hitting just .259/.292/.329 with 1 SB in 4 attempts. He's made the catches in CF, but made 2 awful throws over the cutoff man in Thursday's game, and has been bobbling the ball a lot recently even though he hasn't always been charged with an error. This month he has 4 BB and 18 K.
I'm hoping that, over the next week, Span will continue to produce at AAA, and the Twins' young rotation will continue to carry the team through the 6th inning every night. It's just about time to go down to 11 pitchers, cutting ties with Bonser. Once the Twins are ready to have 5 bench players again, I think Span deserves his shot.