MINNESOTA 5, BALTIMORE 1 IN MINNESOTA
Date: Wednesday, July 30.
Batting stars: Jacque Jones was 2-for-3 with three RBIs. Luis Rivas was 2-for-4 with a double and two runs. Shannon Stewart was 2-for-4 with a double.
Pitching stars: Brad Radke pitched 7.1 innings, giving up one run on six hits and a walk and striking out five. Eddie Guardado pitched a perfect inning.
Opposition star: Deivi Cruz was 2-for-3 with a double.
The game: The Twins jumped out to a lead in the first inning. Stewart doubled, Rivas had an infield single, and Doug Mientkiewicz walked to load the bases. Jones responded with a two-run single. They did no more damage that inning, but had a 2-0 lead. They added a run in the fourth when Rivas doubled, took third on a wild pitch, and scored on a sacrifice fly. It went to 5-0 in the seventh. Michael Restovich doubled, Cristian Guzman tripled, and Stewart singled.
Meanwhile, the Orioles were doing very little on offense. They didn't put two men on until the fifth, when an error and a single put men on first and second with one out. Nothing came of it, however, and they did not again put two on until the eighth, when they got their lone run. Cruz doubled, was bunted to third, and scored on a Luis Matos single. That was the last hit Baltimore got, and it ended 5-1.
WP: Radke (7-9). LP: Sir Sidney Ponson (14-6). S: None.
Notes: Denny Hocking was at third in place of Corey Koskie. Stewart was again in left, Restovich in right, and Jones at DH.
Restovich was batting .429. Stewart was batting .314. Jones was batting .313.
Radke lowered his ERA to 5.12.
Stewart stayed hot. He was now 22-for-46 in his last 11 games.
This was the one good year Sir Sidney Ponson had, and he turned it into a twelve-year career. He'd been decent the year before, 7-9, 4.09, 1.34 WHIP, but in 2003 he was 17-12, 3.75, 1.26. It was the last year he would have an ERA below four. In fact, it was the last year he would have an ERA below five. He did manage to lead the league in complete games and shutouts in 2004, but he also led the league in hits allowed and earned runs allowed, as he compiled a record of 11-15, 5.30, 1.55. Teams kept giving him chances for years, including, of course, the Twins in 2007. He kept pitching until 2010 before he finally ran out of teams that would give him the ball. For his career he was 91-113, 5.03, 1.48 WHIP in 1760.1 innings. He appeared in 298 games, starting 278 of them. I've said it before, but it always annoys me when somebody like Ponson keeps getting chances long after he's established that he's not good enough, while other guys dominate in AAA and get a cursory look if any at all. Again, nobody said life or baseball would be fair.
The Twins gained a game on Kansas City, but not on Chicago.
Record: The Twins were 52-54, in third place in the American League Central, 5.5 games behind Kansas City. They were 3.5 games behind second-place Chicago.