Rapid Reaction: Twins 8, Cubs 7
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Cubs continued to find unique and interesting ways to lose, dropping the opener of a three-game interleague series 8-7 to the Minnesota Twins.
HOW IT HAPPENED: The offense gave the Cubs chances, but the bullpen let it get away as Randy Wells, James Russell and Shawn Camp all gave up runs. Camp gave up a game-tying triple to Justin Morneau in the ninth inning but stranded the winning run at third with no outs. He then gave up the game-winner on a Josh Willingham hit in the 10th inning. Alfonso Soriano crushed a pair of home runs. The Cubs built a three-run lead on the early home-run power of Soriano and Starlin Castro to go along with the pitching of Travis Wood, before Wells coughed it up. Wells recorded two outs in the sixth inning, but put five guys on base, two of whom scored.
WHAT IT MEANS: Despite its struggles all season, there are bullpens in the National League that are worse than the Cubs. At the start of play Friday, the Cubs had a 4.20 ERA tied with the Cardinals fourth from the bottom in the NL. The Cubs led the NL in walks from their relievers with 97.
BEYOND THE BOX: Make that 11 home runs and counting since May 15 for Alfonso Soriano to lead all of baseball over that stretch. Soriano now has at least one home run over his last nine series. It is the longest such run for a Cubs hitter since Sammy Sosa hit a home run in 12 consecutive series in the 2003 season. Soriano did not have a home run before May 15.
OFF BEAT: Just how rare was Soriano’s power show in Minneapolis? A Twins official said that his 431-home run to center field in the first inning was among only about a dozen that have left the park there, with Jim Thome doing it most often. As for the 440-foot blast into the third deck in left field, the only others anybody can recall doing it are the Brewers’ Corey Hart and the Rangers’ Nelson Cruz. It was Soriano’s first multi-homer game of the season and 29th of his career.
UP NEXT: The Cubs will send right-hander Jeff Samardzija (5-3, 3.13 ERA) to the mound in the middle game of the three game series Saturday at Minnesota. The Twins will counter with left-hander Scott Diamond (4-1, 1.86) in the 1:10 p.m. start from Target Field.