Normally a three-game sweep over a team as good as Texas would be a cause for celebration, particularly after the stretch this team has just finished, capping a 6-3 homestand to follow the miserable 2-5 road trip.
The celebration is a bit muted, however, due to the game ending collision that left Orlando Hudson face down on the outfield grass. Reports indicate he hurt his left wrist, where there is a pretty significant history of injury. Updates should be forthcoming today, and hopefully it won’t involve any significant missed time.
On to the good, of which there is plenty from this game. Jason Kubel seems to be back as one of the dangerous hitters in this lineup. On a few occasions Sunday night, the Rangers pitched around Michael Cuddyer with a left-handed pitcher. Kubel made them pay, and might be the player of the week for the Twins. If Kubel is indeed back to form, this is a dangerous lineup.
The only part of the lineup that can be considered a liability is the nine hole occupied on most occasions by Nick Punto. It has been a long time since it has been said that Punto had a good game at the plate, but that is exactly what happened on Sunday. He went 2-for-3 with a walk.
Scott Baker’s performance was on the ugly side, but ultimately he did enough against a very good lineup. The bullpen was impressive, particularly Jose Mijares who seems to be more reliable since coming of the disabled list.
WPA Stars of the Game
1. Jason Kubel
2. Nick Punto
3. Michael Young
AL Central Standings (through Sunday)
1. Min 30-20, 246-191, –
2. Det 26-23, 220-216, 3.5
3. Chi 22-28, 210-238, 8.0
4. KC 21-30, 224-256, 9.5
5. Cle 18-30, 191-247, 11.0
Time for a West Coast swing, starting with four in Seattle. The Mariners are an interesting team. Built to match Safeco Field, the team was assembled with pitching and defense in mind. In terms of outfield defense, the Mariners starting three (Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Ichiro) are +14 runs above average. Compare that to the Twins, who are -12 total (Young, Kubel, Span, Cuddyer). Seattle is a park where there is a lot of room, and the outfield has to go get a lot of balls. That clearly plays into the strengths of the Mariners. As for the Twins, hopefully the pitchers can keep the ball on the ground.