Weekly Recap: Lohse Breaks Out Of Slump

The Minnesota Twins catapulted themselves back into playoff contention this week, as they won six of their seven games. The week included a sweep over the first place Chicago White Sox, and clinching the series against Wild Card leading Oakland. The week also saw Kyle Lohse break out of his slump, Matt LeCroy provided home run heroics, and Joe Nathan move closer to the saves lead in the American League.

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The Twins used the last seven days to catapult themselves back into the playoff race, and are starting to turn some heads within the American League. In their last seven games, the Twins are 6-1, with their only loss coming on Saturday against the Mariners in extra innings. During their hot streak, the Twins have swept the American League Central leading Chicago White Sox, and capped a series with Wild Card leading Oakland.

They started their hot streak last Sunday, with a 2-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics. In that game, Carlos Silva was his dominant self, tossing seven innings of one-run ball in a no decision. The Twins would break a 1-1 ties in the ninth inning, as Matt LeCroy singled home Joe Mauer with one out, and Joe Nathan would work the bottom half to record the save.

Monday began their series against the White Sox, with the Twins taking home a 4-2 victory in the opener. The Twins erupted for four runs in the fourth inning, as Lew Ford smacked a two-RBI single, and Brent Abernathy followed suit with one of his own. That would be all the Twins needed, as Kyle Lohse picked up his first win in his last five starts.

Tuesday, in the second game of the series, the Twins would break open a 4-4 tie in the top of the 16th, putting a five-spot on the board. Michael Cuddyer tied the game in the top of the ninth with a solo home run, and would score the winning run on a Shannon Stewart single in the 16th. J.C. Romero (3-3) picked up the win, as he tossed two scoreless innings before giving way to Joe Nathan in the 16th.

The Twins turned to ace Johan Santana to get the sweep in game 3, and he did not disappoint. The lefty no-hit the Sox through six, as his offense staked him to a 5-0 lead. He would leave with one out in the ninth, and Nathan closed the game out by striking out one batter. LeCroy was the big bat in this game, blasting two home runs, his 11th and 12th of the season.

On Thursday, the Twins opened up a four-game set with the Mariners. LeCroy would again come up huge, hitting a three-run home run in the first inning, giving him three in the last two days. Although Seattle would rally to make it 3-3 in the third, the Twins would score four unanswered runs, as they coasted to a 7-3 win. Joe Mays took home the victory, his sixth of the season.

On Friday, the Twins would again score seven runs, this time winning 7-4. Down 4-2 in the third, the Twins would again come up clutch, scoring five unanswered before it was all said and done. Ford broke a 4-4 tie in the seventh, blasting a three-run home run, and setting the stage for Nathan's 31st save of the year.

The Twins would get their only loss of the week on Saturday, as the Mariners scored six runs in the tenth, en route to a 8-3 victory. Ford hit a home run of the second straight day, and the Twins were happy from what they saw from Lohse. The righty went seven innings, allowing two earned runs on five hits.

For the Twins, the recent streak has landed them only 3.5 games out of the Wild Card, a 3.5 game improvement from last week at this time. If the bats continue to stay hot, the Twins have a legitimate chance of reaching the post-season, as they have 39 games remaining.

Hitter of the Week: Matt LeCroy- The designated hitter batted .381 in the week, smacking three home runs, and driving in seven. He had eight hits in 21 at-bats, and also walked seven times in the seven games. He has also lifted his batting average from .263 to .274, and is riding a five-game hitting streak.

Pitcher of the Week: Joe Nathan- Nathan takes home the Pitcher of the Week award, based on the fact he allowed no earned runs in five appearances. The righty, who some consider to be the best closer in the game, picked up three saves along the way, and struck out five batters in his 4.2 innings of work. He now has 31 saves on the year, and is currently ranked third in the American League in that category.


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