For Twins, walking through a winning week

The Minnesota Twins improved their season record to eight wins against seven losses with their 5-3 victory on Sunday afternoon against the Chicago White Sox. It was their fourth straight win (two apiece sandwiched around three off days including two weather-postponed games against the Angels on Wednesday and the White Sox on Friday), after losing five in a row during the previous week to Kansas City and the New York Mets. The Miami Marlins visit Target Field for a two-game series, weather permitting, on Monday and Tuesday in Minneapolis. After that, the Twins pitching faces some heavy lumber when the Texas Rangers visit for four games, including their new catcher and long-ago Twins catcher A.J. Pierzynski. The Rangers have some strong pitching, so the Twins are in for a tough series Thursday through Sunday afternoon before they fly to Detroit to face the Tigers the following Monday.

The Twins pitching looked solid the past two weeks, both starters and bullpen. There was a 7-4 loss in Kansas City, a 16-5 loss against the Mets and a 8-6 win against the Los Angeles Angels. In the other six games, the opponents scored no more than three runs in five and four runs in the other game. Pitching that effectively puts a team in a good position to win. That was true against the White Sox, as the Twins came from behind to win both games Saturday and Sunday. During the four-game winning streak Joe Mauer was hitting well, and the Twins have shown discipline at the plate, drawing four walks Monday, five walks Tuesday, eight walks Saturday and six walks Sunday. By comparison, the Angels in the Monday and Tuesday games drew just three walks total from Twins pitchers and the White Sox received three Saturday and two Sunday. That’s 23 free bases on balls for the Twins and eight free passes total for the Angels and White Sox.

Walks made a difference Sunday. Justin Morneau drew a bases-loaded walk with two outs to plate Jamey Carroll with the Twins’ first run to tie the game at 1-1 in the sixth inning. Mauer had drawn a walk that filled the bases. The White Sox took the lead 2-1 in the bottom of the frame. Then Trevor Plouffe opened the Twins seventh with a lead-off walk. Plouffe eventually scored on an Aaron Hicks single to right field to tie the score again. With two outs, Mauer walked again and loaded the bases again. Josh Willingham made the White Sox pay when he nailed the first pitch from former Twins relieve Jesse Crain to deep right-center past the outfielders and drove home Hicks, Carroll and Mauer for a 5-2 lead and eventually the win.

The Twins are playing solid baseball right now. They have some growing pains at some of the spots in the batting order. But the pitching is good, the fielding is pretty good and the experienced combination of Mauer, Willingham, Morneau and Ryan Doumit in the No. 2-5 slots is healthy and tough for opposing pitchers to get through safely, especially if they have men on base in scoring position.

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About Bob Mercer

I am a newspaper reporter in Pierre where I cover state government, issues and politics for the Aberdeen American News, the Black Hills Pioneer, the Mitchell Daily Republic, the Pierre Capital Journal, the Rapid City Journal, the Watertown Public Opinion and the Yankton Press & Dakotan. I began covering the Legislature in 1985 and have lived in Pierre since December 1986. I grew up in Wisconsin, worked my way through college, took my first full-time newspapers jobs in Wyoming, and have lived in South Dakota since the summer of 1984 when I moved to Aberdeen to join the American News. I worked for the Rapid City Journal as its state government reporter in Pierre from late 1992 through late 1998. I spent four years as press secretary and a senior aide to Gov. Bill Janklow during his fourth and final term from late 1998 through 2002. I returned to journalism in January 2003 as a self-employed reporter, providing state government coverage to the Mitchell, Watertown, Spearfish, Pierre and, depending on the year, Aberdeen newspapers. In 2008, the Aberdeen American News offered to hire me as full-time member of the AAN staff, with my reports continuing to be available to the Mitchell, Watertown, Spearfish, Pierre, Yankton and Rapid City papers. The new arrangement has been in effect since January 2009 as the seven papers continue their remarkable dedication to their readers and the general public, as the only South Dakota news outlets with a full-time reporter covering state government in Pierre throughout the year. In addition to focusing on the Legislature during the annual winter session and its various activities during the interim periods between sessions, I spend many days throughout the year -- traveling as often necessary -- to cover state government boards and commissions which oversee the state universities, technical institutes, outdoors, water, environment, business, public schools, banking, agriculture, utilities, health care and various other areas of public interest. I purposely don't register to vote because of my profession; the last time I recall voting in a presidential election was the first time, 1976, when I had just turned 18. I think I voted for Jimmy Carter over Gerald Ford. Make of that what you want, just don't make much of it.

4 thoughts on “For Twins, walking through a winning week

  1. Kal Lis

    I am very satisfied to have the Twins at .500 at this point. You are being a little too kind to Doumit. .200 with no homers doesn’t really frighten anyone.

  2. Bob Mercer Post author

    Too kind to the guy whose base-running won the game Saturday? Too kind to the guy who hit .275 last season with 18 home runs and 34 doubles and 75 RBI? The Mauer-Morneau-Doumit triangle between 1B, C and DH is a solid combination. But you’re right, Doumit is at .200 and Morneau is at .250. Doumit’s career average in the majors is .272 and Morneau’s is .280, so there is reason to expect better times are ahead.

    Now, as for Mr. Escobar: He is leading the Twins with a .409 average, splitting time at SS with Mr. Florimon, who’s hitting .308. I don’t know the answer but it’s worth asking when the Twins last had a shortstop batting that well.

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