It was a busy day in Twins Territory: our boys edged the White Sox in a 1-0 victory yesterday afternoon, their fourth in a row over the Chicago nine, and seven straight dating back to last season.
The Japanese press was in full force in the press box, welcoming shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who's been out for a number of weeks with a broken leg. This was his first game at Target Field.
Nishioka was a mixed bag, making some dynamite defensive plays, though he did bobble a ball and was charged with an error that didn't hurt the team. Though he was one for four with an infield hit, he also struck out twice.[jump]
And our man Joe Mauer is slated to return tomorrow. Joe was in the clubhouse after the game for his "only media access" this weekend, according to the suits. As Joe sat down at the press conference table, the Strib's Sid Hartman barked out "How was your vacation, Joe?"
Mauer shook his head. "Oh, wow."
All this is good news. For June, the Twins are 11-3, and still playing with a good number of rookies. Today's lineup included Ben Revere for Denard Span, Luke Hughes in for Morneau, Rene Rivera behind the plate, and Jason Repko holding down left field for Delmon Young, who's in the DH spot.
Years ago, when the likes of Nick Punto and Jason Bartlett used to win some games for the Twins against the hated Sox, manager Ozzie Guillen raged that "those piranhas" beat teams like his with their little blooper singles and stellar defense.
This year's group isn't held in such high esteem. Or at least they're not as deadly. "Little sardines," Ozzie said of the Twins rookies, as he pulled his socks off and tossed them in the corner of the visiting manager's office. "Fucking sardines. You see the circus, a bunch of midgets out there. But they can play."
In a sense, Ozzie's right, because today's game was won by two players, neither of whom are Eddie Gaedel: Nick Blackburn and Michael Cuddyer. Blackburn was sharp, going 8 innings, and even though he had but one strike out, he only walked one, induced 15 ground outs, and threw first pitch strikes to 25 of the 32 batters he faced. Nice.
Blackburn got some help, as the Sox hit into a pair of double plays, in the 4th and 7th innings. They've hit into baseball's sad lexicon six times over the course of both games.
Cuddyer, for his part, blasted a 427 foot homer in the second inning, which was all the Twins needed.
Chicago's Mark Buehrle was not a hard-luck case as his line might indicate. He was fortunate that the circus was in town as he fell behind often, throwing 14 first pitch balls to our midgets and their plastic bats. After all, we won this game on only four hits. So our offensive woes aren't behind us yet.
Mauer's coming back and lowly San Diego is next on the docket. Hopefully, the heavy hitters--not sardines, not midgets--will return when the schedule takes us on the road to San Francisco and Milwaukee, two teams on a serious roll.
Speaking of Eddie Gaedel, here's a cool item about the great hitter's great nephew getting drafted by the visiting Padres. Thanks to The Hall of Very Good for the heads-up.