August 2007


Johan Santana is 0-4 against the AL Central-leading Cleveland Indians. He had a chance to make the Twins escape the series with just a 1 game drop in the standings. Instead, he gave up all 4 of Cleveland’s runs in the first inning, 3 of them via 2 different home runs. He struck out 2, walked 1, and gave up 10 hits (6 of them in that first inning). His record is now 14-10 on the season. I didn’t watch the game, but it appears that the defense did a pretty good job. Santana picked a guy off, Mike Redmond threw a runner out at second, and the team turned a double play. However, they also hit into three of their own, including one to end the game by Brian Buscher (who, for some reason, pinch-hit for Alexi Casilla who went 3-for-4 with a double and a stolen base throughout the game).

There is no game today because of the groundbreaking ceremony for the new stadium. Johan and Joe Nathan aren’t attending, as well as Torii Hunter. Torii is skipping because his future with the team is uncertain. Instead, he’ll “get a massage and hang out”.

The waiver deadline is tomorrow and a rumor is that Carlos Silva could be headed back to Philly. However, as usual Terry Ryan won’t comment and more than likely nothing will happen.

Advertisements

It actually looked like we might be able to win it with the score being 4-3 in favor of the Tribe since the 5th inning. They scored 2 in the bottom of the 8th off of Carmen Cali, who left the game with the bases loaded (by a single, a walk, and a hit by pitch). Pat Neshek gave up a single and a sac fly but that was it. The Twins game back with 2 of their own in the 9th as Brian Buscher hit his first home run in the big leagues and Torii Hunter had a sac fly but Justin Morneau couldn’t deliver a hit with 2 outs. The blame certainly isn’t all on Justin though. A fielding error by Jason Bartlett led to an unearned run, although Jason was 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. Nick Punto was 0-for-3 with 2 strikeouts but had a defensive play that most are already considering a play-of-the-year nominee.

Boof Bonser pitched well enough to keep the team in the game, allowing 3 earned runs (total of 4) over 7 innings pitched.

Tonight’s game is an extreme lefthander’s pitching duel with Johan Santana squaring off against C.C. Sabathia.

Some roster news:  Tommy Watkins and Dennys Reyes are both on the DL, and Joe Mauer is out but expected to return soon. Glen Perkins got lit up in his most recent rehab start and Chris Heintz is back with the club as a backup catcher.

I’ve been really busy lately and didn’t watch any of the games except yesterday’s. The Twins won all 4 and have now won 5 straight.

Jason Bartlett has really turned it on, getting 9 hits in 18 at-bats since coming back from his hamstring injury. In those 9 hits are 1 double and 3 triples, 2 of them coming in yesterday’s game. Overall for the month of August he’s hitting .357 with a .395 OBP and a .600 slugging.

Torii Hunter has also been good, hitting 2 homers in the Baltimore series while racking up 7 RBI, all while continuing his 13-game hitting streak.

The Twins now head to Cleveland for a crucial 3-game series. Carlos Silva takes the mound tonight. All games start at 6:05 central time.

Michael Cuddyer hit a grand slam yesterday and a 7-run first inning allowed the Twins to skate to an 8-4 win to salvage the series. The Texas Rangers, the very team that struck out 17 times against Johan Santana (and 19 times overall in that game) scored 30 runs against the Orioles yesterday in one game (a modern-day record for most runs scored in a game). The Orioles are the team we start a 3-game series against tonight. Is there hope after all?

Wow. I apologize for not having any new posts lately, but I don’t think I could write one at a better time. After a 2-1 squeaker on Friday night and a 5-0 shutout on Saturday, the rubber game’s strings were handed to Johan Santana and he pulled them masterfully. Setting a career-high, and team-high, record with 17 strikeouts in 8 innings pitched, Johan led the team to a 1-0 win. He only gave up 2 hits (both to Sammy Sosa) but didn’t walk anybody. It was without a doubt his best game ever. To make things better, Johan threw 112 pitches and only 4 of them were sliders (thanks to Aaron for that information). 15 of his strikeouts were guys swinging and he struck out everybody in the lineup at least once. He struck out the side in both the second and eighth innings.  It was truly a great game and was incredibly entertaining to watch. Santana faced 26 batters out of a minimum of 24 and had 2 ground outs, 5 fly outs, and the 17 strike outs. An interesting note is that he had no strikeouts in the 6th inning (needing just 8 pitches to retire the 3 batters he faced) and only Randy Johnson has more strikeouts (18) in a non-complete game. I suggest heading over to AaronGleeman.com to check out some more interesting stats surrounding the game.

 

Luckily Santana’s performance is distracting everyone from the Twins’ hitting, totaling just 4 hits yesterday (but luckily one of them was a home run by Michael Cuddyer). In the 3-game series the team was 0-for-19 with runners in scoring position and scored just 3 runs all series. I really hope that this game fired them up, it sure looked like they were pumped up and excited when Santana walked into the dugout after he was done.

 

Jason Kubel has returned from his oblique strain and Jason Bartlett is expected to be able to play within the next 3 or 4 days. Brian Buscher is expected to be activated from the Disabled List when he is eligible this Wednesday.

 

Matt Garza pitches tonight in the first game against Seattle. The scheduled start time is 7:10.

An article from August 11th says that Carlos Silva is willing to sign for less money at the end of the season than he would get if he became a free agent. I was on the fence about whether or not I’d like to see him back. His current contract has him being paid $4 million this season. However, after seeing the stats for pitcher Jason Marquis, I quickly decided that Silva sticking around probably wouldn’t be too bad. The reason? In 2006 Marquis was 14-16 with an ERA a shade over 6.00. He was signed to a 3-year deal in the offseason worth $7 million per season. Silva seems to have found his confidence again this year that helped him to a 3.44 ERA in 2005 and unfortunately has pitched in shutouts in 6 of his 24 starts this season. With a projected rotation of Johan Santana, Francisco Liriano (questionable), Matt Garza, Boof Bonser, and Scott Baker/Kevin Slowey/Carlos Silva, it seems like he would be expendable. However, Boof hasn’t pitched real well and Slowey was recently sent back down to AAA. Garza and Baker have pitched well since returning to the Majors, and nobody knows how Liriano will perform. At worst Silva could be a long reliever for us, and if any one of the starters gets hurt or gets demoted he could take their place. It probably wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to have him be the 4th or 5th starter, but it all depends on just how cheap he’s willing to sign for. There’s no doubt in my mind he could sign for $7-8 million this offseason, and it sounds crazy but the market for pitching is ridiculous right now. If we could sign him for $5 million (or less!) for a 1-year deal, it’d definitely be better than money spent on Ramon Ortiz, Sidney Ponson, Rondell White, and Jeff Cirillo.

 

Like they said with Torii Hunter, though, Twins management has told Silva’s agent that negotiations will start in the offseason (it is possible that initial prices are being thrown around, though).

 

Jason Bartlett and Jason Kubel have made progress and there is no word on whether either of them will hit the DL. Garrett Jones was called up to take Ortiz’s spot on the roster. Garrett can play first, left field, and DH.

 

Pitcher Glen Perkins was sent to AA New Britain to make a rehab start (or two) to make sure everything feels good for him. He’s already made 2 rehab starts on his way back to the Big Leagues.

 

Speaking of Silva, he pitches tonight against the Rangers. It’s the start of a 6-game homestand against non-AL Central teams. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 central time.

First off, I highly recommend reading Joe Christensen’s article on Torii Hunter‘s grand slam ball from yesterday’s 6-1 win, and also about some people heckling Joe Nathan. It’s a nice story and kind of funny, too.

Now, about the game. Things were pretty tense with manager Ron Gardenhire getting tossed for arguing with an umpire. The strike zone was a little erratic but Ron really got mad when Michael Cuddyer struck out swinging and was pursued by the umpire for giving him a dirty look. Umpires aren’t supposed to do that, but I hope there was another reason for getting ejected. According to Bert he was “protecting” his guys, but I’m sure nobody will know why Gardy was in the umpire’s face and what he was yelling at him for. As soon as he was tossed he got a phone call from Terry Ryan saying that pitcher Ramon Ortiz had been traded to the Rockies. It was for a minor league infielder named Matt Macri. Coincidentally enough, Macri was originally drafted by the Twins in 2001 but decided to not sign and instead return to college, where he played shortstop, among other infield positions, for Notre Dame. He’s played third base and second base in the minors and seems like he really could play any of those three positions. As a 25-year old in AA this season he hit .298 with 11 homers and 33 RBI in 79 games played. He had 23 doubles and 20 walks with 58 strikeouts for an on-base percentage of .349. A lot of Rockies fans are upset that the trade happened, but with a few injuries to starting pitchers, Colorado had interest in Ortiz. Ortiz, who gave up a combined 65 home runs in 63 starts between 2005-2006, might have a tough time pitching in the notorious hitter’s park Coors Field. He definitely was not worth the money that Terry Ryan paid for him (although he showed promise from his April starts), he never spoke publicly about his demotion to the bullpen and the mop-up role. He seems like a good guy who likes to play baseball and still showed enthusiasm pitching when we were down by 6 or 8 runs in the late innings of a game. Hopefully he pitches decent over there in the National League.

 

 

Ok, at the start of that paragraph I said now about the game. Turns out that was mostly about Ramon Ortiz.

 

Really now, about the game. Scott Baker continued his recent streak of pitching well (minus that hiccup in his last start) by going 6 and 2/3 innings and allowing just 1 run. He allowed 8 hits and 2 walks, but struck out 7 and had a double play, an outfield assist, and a caught stealing from his defense (to be fair and tell the whole story, there were also 2 successful stolen bases from the Mariners). The only run he gave up was on a solo homer, an inning-and-a-half after Rondell White gave the Twins a 1-0 lead with his first homer of the year. Despite his .192 batting average and .222 OBP this month, he’s driven in 5 runs in just 7 games played during August.

Pat Neshek finished out the 7th inning and pitched a hitless 8th, getting his 7th win of the season. It was in the top of the 8th that Nick Punto successfully bunted a runner to second (according to Gardenhire, he’s been working on it) and Joe Mauer was intentionally walked to get to Hunter, 0-3 to that point in the game. Torii delivered with a single to give the Twins a 2-1 lead but wasn’t finished. After Joe was intentionally walked again, this time loading the bases, Torii jacked his 9th career grand slam to blow the game open. The ball was caught by Nathan, who was warming up in the bullpen at the time. He promptly gave it to Torii, who was excited to get it back, because it put him behind only Harmon Killebrew, with 10, on the Twins’ all-time grand slam list.

 

Things weren’t all smiles during the game though, as Jason Bartlett got an injured leg in the 6th after hitting a single (he was 2-for-3). It’s a tough injury for the team because Bartlett was hitting .308 so far this month and had adapted nicely to the number 2 spot in the batting order. He was replaced by Punto and I believe Gardenhire said on the post-game show that it was a hamstring injury, but don’t quote me. I do know for sure that he said it will require time on the DL and a move will be made tomorrow (an off day for the team) to bring up an infielder, probably Matt Tolbert. There’s also a roster spot open, one previously occupied by Ortiz, and on Friday the team will know if Jason Kubel will need DL time. Call-up possibilities are outfielder Lew Ford, the aforementioned Tolbert, 1B/LF Garrett Jones, and maybe even starter Kevin Slowey. We’ll just have to wait and see.

 

The team is traveling home and will face the Rangers starting tomorrow. Carlos Silva will open up the series for us. I will do a post tomorrow morning that talks about some rumors surrounding the team, as far as contracts and other stuff is concerned.

Next Page »