The Hitters are Back

Alternate Headline: It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over

Game 68: Twins 13 (39-29), Phillies 10 (35-31), 11 innings

For the bulk of the past few weeks, the Twins have lost games in which they had decent pitching but little-to-no offense. A lot of that had to do with injuries, and I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that the team seems to be leaving the offensive funk behind them at the same time that Orlando Hudson has rejoined the lineup. It is hard to score runs consistently when you have an automatic out hitting second, and that is essentially the handicap the Twins have been playing with since Hudson went down in late May.

In fairness, Hudson didn’t hit any of the four team home runs on Saturday – but I suspect just about everybody in the lineup has a little more confidence with Hudson back. It also helps that both Delmon Young and Nick Punto are hitting – and Young is showing signs that his success is a trend as opposed to a random hot streak. Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau don’t need to shoulder the entire burden anymore (but perhaps Drew Butera could – 1-for-1 with a home run as a pinch hitter).

Now the problem seems to be pitching, with back-to-back second inning exits for Twins’ starting pitchers. This is an easier problem to see as an outlier – just a couple of bad games. I don’t believe that either Nick Blackburn or Kevin Slowey are going to have too many starts as awful as Friday/Saturday. On both occasions, the bullpens pitched well – it just meant a little more on Saturday, when the Twins’ bats really came alive.

The comeback was nice (with multiple pinch-hit home runs in extra innings, somewhat unique), and is likely a confidence booster for a team that has been treading water for the better part of the month.

WPA Stars of the Game
1. Ross Gload
2. Delmon Young
3. Joe Mauer

Standings (through Saturday)
1. Min 39-29, 325-273, –
2. Det 37-30, 306-294, 1.5
3. Chi 33-34, 288-307, 5.5
4. KC 29-40, 315-351, 10.5
5. Cle 26-40, 280-335, 12.o

I’m glad the Twins got a win in this series because Roy Halladay looms for Sunday’s game.

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