Weather: 66 degrees, partly cloudy
Wind: 21 mph, out to CF
What's not to love about this game? The Twins jet into Beantown on a wing and a prayer, a wisp of momentum, and a sigh of relief that they were able to best the offensively impotent Pale Hosers in a series deuce on the South Side, a short set featuring a no-hitter the hard way that F-bomb rolled for a 1-0 win. The boys haven't exactly been swinging hot lumber lately. With Butera and Casilla mired below the Mendozza line like sloths in La Brea tar, and Morneau barely above it, and Mauer and Delmon and JI
JIM THOME bruised and benched, our lineup doesn't have the punch of a full-strength squad hitting to expectations. But you wouldn't know it tonight.
Scotty Baker, who is quietly positioning himself as a rock solid pillar in the rotation, gave the bullpen a breather, pitching eight innings and racking up the same number of strikeouts, scattering seven hits and giving up just two runs, both solo dongers off the respective ash of J.D. Drew and Adrian Gonzalez. It was no no-no that Baker threw tonight, but he did dominate the Red Sox lineup, hitting his spots (75 of his 106 pitches were strikes) and working all parts of the strike zone with a good mix of pitches. His 3.16 ERA isn't likely to stay that low with a 4.01 FIP and a fairly lucky .273 BABIP, but fundamentally Scotty Baker is Scotty Baker. He can get a lot of guys to swing and miss (7.47 K/9), but he's prone to giving up the occasional moon shot.
On the other side of the ball, young Trevor Plouffe found a convenient Rochester phone booth, stripped down to his Superman suit and flew into Boston half an hour ahead of his plane. Already anointed the Twins new starting shortstop before he took the field, Plouffe made that Gardy decision seem like a ruling from Solomon when he stroked a solo round-tripper over the Green Monster in his first major league at-bat of the year.
Plouffe led off what would be one of the Twins biggest offensive explosions of the season to date, matching Span, Cuddyer and Valencia with two hits apiece and scoring three runs. In all, the Twins stroked a dozen hits while amassing their nine runs, and were helped out heartily by two Boston errors. I know, they were doing all this in the oldest (and ugliest) bandbox in the Majors, against an aging knuckleballer who learned early on tonight that he shouldn't try to sneak a letter-high fastball down the middle by Trevor Plouffe. But they were also doing it with a leaky starting lineup plugged with three emergency Rochester call-ups.
There were other amusements to be had in tonight's tilt, if you got there early. Angel Hernandez behind the plate, always good entertainment, calling two balks - the first in the second inning on Wakefield who appeared to have Span picked off. That one prompting the ejection of Boston skipper Francona, who hurled a masticated wad of Super Bubble at the obtuse arbiter as he walked off the field after arguing the call. All in all, it was a nice Friday night win that extended the current streak to three games. And after the April we just had, it's a real spring tonic to play at least one AL East team that doesn't beat us like we stole something.