The Twins lost two out of three to the New York Yankees this past week, and now must head to Fenway to battle the Boston Red Sox. There were some bright spots for the Twins against the Yankees, but a sharp Randy Johnson and a red-hot Gary Sheffield proved too much. The Twins need to regroup and forget about the Bronx, if they want to survive in Boston.
The series began on Tuesday, and Randy Johnson answered every question about his bad back. The Big Unit had a no-hitter going into the sixth, but a Juan Castro singled with two outs to end that. The Twins would only muster two hits the entire night, with Lew Ford picking up the other one.
As for the Twins' starter, Brad Radke pitched extremely well. He would go six innings, allowing two runs on five hits. That kind of start usually equals a win, but when Johnson is on, you need to be flawless. The loss dropped Radke to 6-10 on the year.
In Game two, the Twins bats awoke, and got to the Yankees' bullpen. While Yankees starter Al Leiter teetered on the brink of disaster all night, the Twins couldn't break him. The Twins scored six runs in the seventh, eighth, and ninth inning combined, breaking open a 1-0 game.
Johan Santana got the start in game two, and pitched like he is ready for a playoff run. He went seven shutout innings, allowing seven hits, and striking out five. He ran his record to 10-5, and most importantly, gave the Twins life after Tuesday's debacle.
The offense was the real story in this one though, wrapping out 14 hits against Yankee pitching. Jacque Jones hit a two-run homer, Justin Morneau hit a solo shot, and Shannon Stewart picked up three hits in four at-bats. Michael Cuddyer and Joe Mauer each picked up two base hits, and the Twins stole three bases of Yankees catcher Jorge Posada.
The win gave the Twins a sense of reassurance, and with Aaron Small throwing for the Yankees on Thursday, made them the favorite to win the series. Small, a 33-year old Minor Leaguer who made a start earlier in the month, ended up pitching a gem in the rubber-game. It was only his second Major League start in the last nine years.
The Twins started off the game with some hits, and even scraped out a two runs in the second on a Luis Rodriguez single. They would score once more in the fourth, as Jones doubled home Torii Hunter. But that was all the scoring they would do, as Small retired 12 in a row, and 18 of the last 19 Twins went down.
Joe Mays, who has been rumored to be headed to Boston, took the loss on Thursday. His record dropped to 5-6, and his ERA now stands at 4.71. He went 5.2 innings, allowing six runs on ten hits.
The Twins ended the three-game set 11.5 games behind Chicago for the AL Central lead, and a full game behind Oakland for the Wild Card.
Second Shift: Bret Boone was given the day off on Thursday, mostly because he has not produced since coming over from Seattle. With Alfonso Soriano apparently on the trading block, one source said the Twins are in the market for the slugging two-bagger. Luis Rodriguez played second in his place during the rubber game.
Jacque Jacking: Jacque Jones had himself quite a series against the Yankees this past week. After getting the night off on Tuesday, Jones blasted a two-run home run in the eighth inning on Wednesday. In game three, Jones went 2-4, hitting a double and driving in another run.
Cuddy Contributes: Michael Cuddyer wrapped two hits on Wednesday, and then proceeded to go 1-3 with a run on Thursday. He has now hit safely in six of his last nine games. He is batting .262 on the year, with five home runs and 24 RBI.