Triples are cool.
in one sense, the Twins won this game in one inning. Torii Hunter had homered in the first to make it 1-0, but the Twins scored five in the third to take a commanding lead. Singles by Hicks and Santana and a walk to Hunter loaded the bases with one out. Joe Mauer than hit a three-run triple, Trevor Plouffe made it back-to-back triples, and Kurt Suzuki followed with a double, making the score 6-0. If you just look at the box score, you might think the game was over right there.
In reality, though, it was only the top of the third inning, and you may have noticed that the Detroit Tigers have some good batters. But Ricky Nolasco pitched one of his better games, pitching five shutout innings before giving up a pair of unearned runs in the sixth. He only lasted 5.1 innings, throwing 106 pitches, which is more than you'd like to see in that time. Still, for this one game he improved from Almost Good to Good Enough, which is at least a step in the right direction.
Five relief pitchers were used for the last 3.2 innings. That seems, perhaps, a tad excessive, but I suspect Molitor's thinking was that, since leads against the Tigers have been hard to come by, we need to make darn sure we actually win the game. One would assume that's why we saw Perkins in a non-save situation in the ninth. We discussed not using Perkins Tuesday in that game recap, and there's no reason to repeat that. It does seem a tad inconsistent, though, to criticize Molitor for not using Perkins in a non-save situation in Tuesday's game and then criticize him for using Perkins in a non-save situation in Wednesday's game. Besides, as Cory and Kris pointed out, it may not have technically been a save situation, but it felt like one. This was not a case of bringing Perkins into a blowout to get him some work. This was a case of bringing him in to make sure we won the game. Had Molitor left Boyer in to start the ninth, or brought in someone else, and that relief pitcher had come up with a SOC, Molitor would surely have been criticized for not bringing Perkins in to start the inning. That's part of the territory when you're a manager, and part of the fun of being a fan--we can always second-guess, knowing that we'll never be held accountable if we happen to be wrong.
So today, we have an afternoon game. Mike Pelfrey goes for the Twins, and he's been on quite a roll lately. In his last five starts, he's 3-0 with a 1.84 ERA. Is it just an illusion, or is he actually going to be good this year? We take another step toward finding the answer today. They face Anibal Sanchez, who has been a good pitcher for a lot longer than I realized, posting an ERA under four for six consecutive seasons entering this year. He has struggled some so far this year, giving up five or more earned runs in three of his seven starts. He hasn't struggled against the Twins, although they did manage to beat him 3-2 the last time he faced them. We've started our season-ending one hundred twenty-nine-game winning streak! We're still on track for 147-15!