Twins 9, White Sox 3
Twins fans couldn't have asked for much more than they got last night.
Scott Baker delivered a strong start, allowing just 5 singles and a walk in 7 IP. It's crucial in this series that the Twins' starters go deep into the game and keep the ball in the yard, and Baker achieved both. He'll need to be just as good in his final start on Sunday vs. KC.
I thought it was funny how Chicago's run in the 2nd was a Twins kind of rally: 2 singles, aggressive baserunning puts a man on 3rd with no out, scores when the next guy puts the ball in play (GIDP by Ken Griffey, Jr.). Then the Twins' runs in the bottom half were White Sox kind of runs: leadoff man walks, next man up hits a homer.
The Twins accomplished something last night they've rarely managed to do lately - they outslugged their opponent. 2 doubles, and triple and 3 HR was like a week's worth of XBH on the just-finished road trip. It would be great if they could keep it up for the rest of the home stand.
Jason Kubel led the way, going 3-4 with 2 HR and a triple. (If only I hadn't been eliminated in the first round of my fantasy playoffs!). Delmon Young followed him by going 3-3 with a double, HR and BB. The Twins got nothing from Denard Span and Alexi Casilla at the top of the lineup, and scored 9 runs anyway. Span & Casilla will need to get on base a lot the rest of the way.
Matt Guerrier was brought in to mop up the 9th inning, and issued a 2-out walk followed by a 2-run HR. After an August in which he compiled a 10.13 ERA and 2.06 WHIP with 3 HR in 10.2 IP, he's allowed a 9.82 ERA and 2.59 WHIP with 3 HR in 7.1 IP in September. If the Twins make it to October, I wouldn't even put him on the playoff roster. He's absolutely toast.
As heartening as this victory was, we've seen it before recently. It was every other game of the disappointing split with the A's. It was the first 2 games of the Royals and Orioles series. It's critical that the Twins win this series, obviously, but they won't really get out of the hole they've put themselves in unless they sweep. The situation is like that of a team that loses the first 2 games of a playoff series. When you come home, you need to win 2 to stay alive, but you don't want to end the series having to win the last 2 on the road either. So we're back to square one tonight, with a tough matchup against Mark Buehrle. Keep it up.