Game Chat – Angels @ Twins #3, 7:10 pm on ESPN

It’s time for Scott Baker to step up in tonight’s showdown with Jared Weaver and the Angels. The Bitch Sox fell today in another extra inning game to the Royals (how many teams do you suppose have ever played 31 innings of baseball, covering three games, in something like 22 hours?), so here’s a chance to build the lead back up to 5 games over Chicago before heading to the Oven in Arlington.

The Twins have announced that Anthony Slama is on hand and available to pitch out of the bullpen tonight and that Nick Blackburn will meet the Twins in Texas and he will start game 1 of that series on Monday. That gives the rest of the rotation an extra day to rest the arms this week.

Here are tonight’s lineups as we bid “so long” to Torii and his friends and Jason Repko and Alexi Casilla get starts for the Twins.

Abreu, B, LF   Repko, CF
Kendrick, H, 2B   Hudson, O, 2B
Callaspo, 3B   Mauer, C
Hunter, RF   Kubel, RF
Matsui, H, DH   Cuddyer, 1B
Aybar, E, SS   Thome, DH
Napoli, 1B   Young, D, LF
Mathis, J, C   Valencia, 3B
Bourjos, CF   Casilla, A, SS
Weaver, Jr, P   Baker, S, P


  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
LA Angels 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 0
Minnesota 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 0 x 4 7 0

We could talk about how this game was really one good inning surrounded by 8 innings of mediocrity. We could talk about how a lot of hitters still aren’t exactly ripping the ball. But when the win sends you five games up on the Bitch Sox, why quibble over details?

Scott Baker was on his game tonight. He sliced through the Angels from top to bottom. And when the Twins needed someone to break the scoreless tie, the rookie, Danny Valencia, stepped up and sent a Jared Weaver fastball 426 feet in to the second deck in left-center field. That appeared to wake up the bats a bit as Orlando Hudson hustled out a 2-out triple. Weaver “pitched around” Mauer and Kubel (that’s code for “throwing them nothing remotely close to the strike zone”). The strategy, apparently, was to get to Cuddyer because he has had very little success against Weaver historically.

It looked like the strategy may pay off as Weaver quickly worked ahead of Cuddyer, but Cuddy just kept fouling off one pitch after another until a conference was held on the mound to discuss what to try throwing next. Whatever the decision was, it worked out well for the Twins as Cuddy laced the pitch in to the LC gap, clearing the bases and putting the Twins up 4-0.

Baker completed 7 clean, shutout innings, providing the kind of performance the Twins have needed out of a starting pitcher and Jesse Crain & Matt Capps wrapped up the shutout.

Plenty of baked goods to go around tonight, but the consensus of the GameChat crowd was co-BOD awards for Scooter Baker and Michael Cuddyer!