Twins 6, Tigers 4
This was an important game for the Twins to win, stopping the Tigers' winning streak at 6 games and keeping pace with the White Sox. For as dreadful as Nate Robertson was, and as effective as Scott Baker was for most of the night, I had an uneasy feeling most of the night, thanks to the Tigers' late comeback on Monday. This time, the bullpen held.
The key to this game was the severe damage done by Craig Monroe, who finally lit up a LHP. He got his old buddy Robertson for a sharp single leading off the second, then drilled a 3-run HR to CF in the 4th. Monroe also drew a walk later in the game. His success vs. LHP is going to be crucial for the Twins in the 2nd half of the season.
Mike Redmond was catching tonight, in the 3rd spot in the lineup. Once again, he made that decision look good by going 2-4 with 2 RBI. I think we're to the point now where Redmond batting 3rd no longer requires any special attention.
This game would have been much easier on my blood pressure had the Twins done 2 little things better.
First - After Carlos Gomez and Alexi Casilla reached to start the game and quickly moved to 3rd and 2nd on a wild pitch, the Twins were set up for a big first inning. Redmond did his job with the infield back, hitting a grounder to 1st. While Casilla correctly scooted straight over to 3rd, Gomez held up for a few seconds, long enough to get himself thrown out at the plate. That gaffe cost the Twins 2 runs - Justin Morneau's grounder to 2nd would have easily scored Casilla had there been just one out. Think how much easier it would have been to watch the late innings had the score been 8-3 instead of 6-3!
I'm sure a lot of folks will say that this was a good night for Gomez, pointing to his 2-3 line w/2 BB(!), but I would ask them to calculate whether the positive contributions he made were sufficient to make up for the 2 runs he pissed away in the first.
By the way, Gomez and Delmon Young combined for 7 walks in the entire month of June. Tonight, they had 3 walks between them. That may be a sign that the Tigers' pitchers didn't have good command tonight...
Second - Baker pitched a terrific game - except to Marcus Thames. The Twins made him look pretty silly last night, striking him out 4 straight times after his 1st-pitch HR in the 2nd. Baker had two strikes on him in the 4th and the 6th, but each time delivered way too good a pitch, out where Thames could get his arms extended. The first hit moved Carlos Guillen over to the 3rd, where he could score on Baker's wild pitch. The second hit bounced off the top of the wall and into the seats for a 2-run HR. Brian Bass showed us how it's done in the 8th, striking him out with a sinker down-and-in. I hope the Twins will be thinking inside to Thames tomorrow.
A very impressive 2nd game back for Denard Span. He went 1-2 with his second 2B and a BB, SB and a sacrifice. Just adding 2 games to his April stats raises his line to .297/.366/.351. He should have gotten more ABs back then.
Big game tomorrow afternoon - the Twins already could have had this series sewn up, but they need a win to make sure they stop the Tigers' momentum. It's up to Nick Blackburn to show that he can bounce back from a tough outing last Friday.