June 23, 2005
Minneapolis, Minn. — On the hottest day of the year, over 20,000 people slowly make their way into the blessedly air-conditioned Metrodome. Besides the oppressive heat and humidity, the Twins four-game losing streak and general lackluster play as of late, hang in the air. However, some Twins fans say it's too early to get down on the Twins.
"Every team goes through this kind of a stretch during the season," says Jim Wachels. "I think they're going to be just fine. I know a couple years ago we were eight games back at the All Star break and we still won the division by five games, so I'm not worried yet."
"I just think they got to get the bats going and hopefully the pitching the first few innings needs to be a little better so that we have an opportunity to stay inside," says Anthony McWell.
The Twins wasted no time getting the bats going. Catcher Joe Mauer led the first inning rally with a two-out single to left field. Then Tiger pitcher Jason Johnson loaded the bases with two walks. Jacque Jones struck out, but the ball got past catcher Vance Wilson and thanks to fielding error by the pitcher, two runs scored. Then with runners on first and third, designated hitter Matthew LeCroy hit a bloop single, scoring two more.
Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire says smart baserunning was the key to getting the early lead.
"[It wasn't] like we killed the ball that inning, but we were running the bases pretty good and guys were spinning around there and that's when good things happen - when you can be aggressive and it worked out for us [we] got some runs early," says Gardenhire.
Gardenhire rested several of his regular starters, like Torii Hunter, Shannon Stewart and Michael Cuddyer. Hunter says he thinks the changes helped spark something in the team. He also says his teammates made another change -- they decided to wear their dark blue batting practice jerseys for the game.
"The guys went out there with their BP tops on with no names on the back," says Hunter. "And we had a little joke that we had to earn our names. And those guys went out there and did that -- they earned their names. We might do that tomorrow and make you earn your name tomorrow. It's kind of like a motivation thing. Get out there. Earn your name."
Other standouts in the game include Matthew LeCroy who also hit a 400-foot homerun and third baseman Glen Williams got two hits and extended his eight-game hitting streak. But Hunter gave the most credit to pitcher Carlos Silva.
"The way he pitched today, he went after those guys," says Hunter. "He didn't walk anybody. Ninety pitches in a complete game. That lets you know he's a bulldog. He's ready to come after you anytime. No matter who you are." With the win the Twins gain a half a game on the division-leading Chicago White Sox. However, the Twins have lost seven or their last 10 games and that has helped put them nearly 10 games out of first place.
The Twins next begin an interleague series with the Milwaukee Brewers in Milwaukee.