Kubel becoming another Twins’ left-handed menace

Jason Kubel appears to be living up to those lofty expectations placed on his shoulders as a prospect in the Minnesota Twins’ minor league system.

Kubel has combined with fellow left-handed hitters Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau to give the Twins a formidable trio of southpaw-swinging sluggers.

The South Dakota native was once considered the top hitting prospect in the Twins’ system before missing an entire season with a knee injury in 2005. It’s taken a little longer than expected, but steady improvement in each season since leads one to believe that he’s getting there.

On the season, Kubel is batting .333 with five homers and 20 RBIs. He’s slugging a whopping .555 this year.

But it’s when he gets his hits that counts.

Kubel went 3-for-4 in Thursday’s win over Detroit, just one night after hitting a game-tying home run in the late innings of another win against the Tigers. He also hit a go-ahead grand slam to cap a cycle in a Twins comeback earlier this season.

He’s a career .438 hitter with the bases loaded, including five grand slams, in just 32 at-bats.

Kubel’s numbers against left-handed pitching this year and for his career are not pretty (.234 against LHP for career; .190 for this season). He’s still best used as a platoon, but what’s wrong with that? 

And as for the concern of hitting three lefties in Mauer, Morneau and Kubel in a row, yeah, it can create matchup concerns for the Twins when facing a situation lefty in the eighth inning. But what about the first seven innings?

I say if you’re facing a right-handed pitcher, why not put your best three hitters in a row and try to build a lead big enough where that eighth-inning situational lefty isn’t going to matter. 

A win worth staying up for

Glen Perkins faded and the Minnesota Twins bullpen failed, but one swing from the bat of third baseman Joe Crede allowed Twins fans to forget about that. Well, for one night anyway.

Crede hit a two-out grand slam in the bottom of the 13th inning as the Twins beat the Detroit Tigers 14-10 at around midnight.

The Twins came back from deficits of 5-4, 9-7 and 10-9 heading into the bottom of the 13th.

Minnesota (17-17) finds itself a game out of first place in the jam-packed AL Central. The Tigers (17-15) and Kansas City Royals (18-16) are in a virtual tie atop the division.

The Twins go for the three-game sweep this afternoon. After that, the rest of the month will be a test. There are road games at the new Yankee Stadium starting Friday, plus a series at the Chicago White Sox and one at Tampa Bay at the end of the month. The Twins also host the Boston Red Sox and Milwaukee Brewers before June arrives.