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With the day off on Thursday, the Twins ended June at 13-13.
They had an up and down month, but came on late to end the month at an even .500. Minnesota began the month winning six out of seven, culminating with taking two out of three from the New York Yankees at the Metrodome. But the month ended with a 3-1 loss, as they couldn’t sweep the Kansas City Royals.
The month opened up with a huge win over the Cleveland Indians on June 1. Torii Hunter went 5-for-5 with six RBI, including a grand slam, as the Twins beat the Indians 6-2. Jesse Crain threw a scoreless inning to lower his ERA to 0.92 and the Twins were at 30-21 overall, standing only four games back of the red-hot Chicago White Sox.
The Twins would win the series the next day, and would follow it up by winning four of their next five. Then, the wheels fell off.
Minnesota lost 11 of their next 15 games, a spell that would land them 10-1/2 games out of first place. The Twins lost five series in a row, and their record was 39-33.
There were some ugly losses, and with the injuries mounting up and Chicago playing so well, the Twins needed help fast.
Help arrived in the form of a 27-year old career minor leaguer named Glenn Williams. With his contract purchased on June 5, Williams was about to make sure he took advantage of his opportunity. Finally out of the minors and getting a chance to play everyday, Williams went on a streak that captured the imaginations of all Twins fans.
In his 13 games played, he hit safely in every single one of them, hitting .425 with three RBI and three runs scored. Williams was a steady glove at third base, filling a void that the Twins definitely needed to have filled.
However, it all came crashing down for Williams on Tuesday, when he was injured diving back to first on a pickoff play. His shoulder was separated and he will be out for 6 to 8 weeks.
Meanwhile, Interleague play did not do the trick for Minnesota at all this month. Manager Ron Gardenhire was quoted as saying he hated it and couldn’t wait to get back to playing American League teams. The Twins went 6-10 in interleague play, almost being swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers, the San Francisco Giants, the San Diego Padres, and the Milwaukee Brewers. On their return to American League play, they took two out of three from the Royals and moved back to .500 for the month.
Rookie second baseman Luis Rodriguez enjoyed a nice month at the plate in his first full month as a big leaguer. He hit .313 with seven runs, and also hit his first Major League home run, a two-run shot off Victor Santos to give the Twins a 2-0 lead against the Brewers on June 26. The Twins would go on to with the game 5-2 behind a gutsy performance by Kyle Lohse. The win brought Lohse to the .500 mark at 6-6.
Torii Hunter continued to make his presence known in the All-Star balloting, batting .326 in the month of June, with eight home runs and 22 RBI. He scored 23 runs and 15 of his 31 hits were for extra bases. Hunter played flawless defense in center field, and even threw out two runners from the outfield. Through Thursday's action, Hunter is batting .268 with 14 home runs and 48 RBI.
The month of June will be a memorable one for outfielder Shannon Stewart. The veteran hit his 100th Major League home run, a leadoff home run off Tomo Okha in a 7-6 loss against the Brewers. The shot was his tenth of the year and he is on pace to break his single-season record of 21 home runs. Stewart hit 21 with the Blue Jays in 2000 and would have more homers if injuries didn’t get to him throughout his career. He has only played in 165 games in the last two season.
Relief pitcher Jesse Crain was dominant again in June. In 15 appearances he boasted a 1.02 ERA, allowing only two earned runs in 17.2 innings pitched. He walked only three batters and hitters only mustered ten hits off of him all month. On the year, Crain is 7-0 with a 0.99 ERA. AL All-Star Game Manager Terry Francona has said that he is intrigued by Crain and that Crain’s statistics are “ridiculous”. Don’t be suprised if Crain takes the rare honor of being a middle reliever in an All-Star game.
The three-game set with the Royals to end the month seems like all the Twins needed to get back in the right direction. They are now 7-1 against their divisional foe although they continue to stay far behind the White Sox in the AL Central. At 42-34, and 10.0 games back, the Twins need to finish up strong before the All-Star Game on July 12. They have a three-game set with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on deck, before hitting the road for three games against the AL West leading Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and a four more against the Royals.