Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Returning to average

That's where the Twins are right now, sitting at .500 for the first time since August 1st. Fortunately for them, in the AL Central that's good enough to be just 3.5 or 4.5 (damn late West Coast games) games back of Detroit. They've also moved into a tie with the White Sox, who've lost three in a row, putting them in second place for the first time since July 29th.

The Armando Gabino experiment, however, certainly was not the catalyst for the Twins' fifth straight victory. He gave up five hits and three walks in only 2 2/3 innings, culminating in four runs, and in addition made an error on a pick-off throw. With Minnesota's willingness to shuffle guys between AAA and the bigs, I'd be very surprised if Gabino got another start.

He was lifted in the third with the bases loaded for Philip Humber, which is usually not a recipe for a win. And Humber didn't do anything to change that, as he allowed 5 baserunners while getting just three outs, including two bases loaded walks.

But Bobby Keppel restored some hope by striking out Melvin Mora when he inherited a bases-loaded jam in the 4th inning. That gave the offense a chance to make their way back, and yet again it was Alexi Casilla providing the spark (more on him in a second). Delmon Young also came up big with a four-hit game that included a walk-off single in the ninth inning. Former Twin Brian Bass was also very helpful, as he allowed all 5 Twins he faced in the sixth inning to reach base, of whom 3 scored to knot the game at six apiece.

Casilla is now hitting .209/.291/.271, which is downright awful; in fact, it's almost an exact copy of Nick Punto's 2007 season. But of late, Casilla has been excellent. He's hitting .417/.450/.583 since August 8th, and he's made several highlight reel defensive plays. Perhaps it's Orlando Cabrera's influence or perhaps it's just a hot streak, but either way it's nice to have someone in each of the nine lineup spots again. And while we obviously can't expect him to hit over .400 the rest of the way, we can hope that he puts up an OPS around .7o0 or .750 the rest of the year, which would make second base respectable again and really help the Twins playoff push.

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