September 28, 2007
Boof Bonser, unsurprisingly only lasted 5 innings, but kept the Twins in it by giving up 3 runs on 6 hits. He walked 2, struck out 2, and gave up a homer to David Ortiz who killed our pitching the whole night, going 4-for-4 with 2 RBI, 2 runs scored, and a walk.
Juan Rincon, Matt Guerrier, and Joe Nathan all went 1 and 1/3 innings with Glen Perkins throwing two strikes to the only batter he faced, who got on with a single. Guerrier gave up a solo home run but struck out 2, as did Nathan who also walked 2 and gave up a hit. Rincon gave up a hit but had no walks and no strike outs.
Jason Kubel was 1-for-4 with an RBI triple, just one of the team’s 7 extra-base hits in the game (two doubles, the triple, and two home runs by Michael Cuddyer and Garrett Jones).
Matt LeCroy was the catcher, going hitless in his 4 at-bats. He struck out 3 times and left 2 men on. He also allowed 3 stolen bases. That brings his total to 6 stolen bases allowed in 6 attempts in just 2 games. It’s clear teams know they can and will run against him, hopefully the pitchers can take some extra time holding the runner(s) on.
Tonight’s game starts at 6:05 again, this time with Kevin Slowey (1-0, 2.63, 25 K and 2 BB in 24 IP in the month of September) facing Japanese ace Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-1, 9.74 in September).
September 27, 2007
Johan Santana‘s ridiculous 123-game streak of consecutive starts lasting at least 5 innings was broken last night, with him leaving after just 3 because of an 80 minute rain delay. It sucks it had to happen because of Mother Nature, but with nothing to play for it wasn’t a bad decision. The game only lasted 5 1/2 innings with Nick Blackburn pitching the last two, allowing 7 hits, 6 runs (4 earned), and 1 home run with 2 strikeouts. Santana will not pitch again this year, so his final numbers are a record of 15-13, an ERA of 3.33, 235 strikeouts in 219 innings pitched, 52 walks, and a career-high 33 HR allowed.
Rondell White, in what figures to be his last week as a MLB player, hit a double with the bases loaded to drive in 3 runs. That helped the Twins jump to an early 4-0 lead after the top half of the first inning. Santana’s 3 walks in the bottom of the 2nd helped Detroit to score 3 of their own, with 2 of those being earned to Johan. The best the Twins can do now is finish exactly .500, but that would require winning 4 straight games; something they’ve done just 5 times this season.
The team is now in Boston with tonight’s game scheduled to start at 6:05. Boof Bonser (7-12, 5.09) will take the mound for us against potential Cy Young Award-winner Josh Beckett (20-6, 3.14).
September 25, 2007
Carlos Silva pitched masterfully in his 32nd start of the year, allowing 0 runs on 6 hits in 7 and 2/3 innings pitched. It brought his record to 13-14 on the season and allows him to finish at .500 with just one start to go.
Glen Perkins needed just 1 pitch to retire the only batter he faced.
Nick Punto collected his 25th RBI of the season and continues to do his best work in the final month of the season. His .322 so far in September is 69 points higher than his second-best month, May, when he hit .253.
Jason Kubel had an RBI single with two outs in the ninth to give him 64 on the season. With 3 HR and 12 RBI this month, and Rondell White saying he is 99% sure he will retire after the season, I have a feeling you’ll see Kubel starting in left field on opening day. Not that it’s a bad thing; I still feel he will end up being a 20 homer/85+ RBI guy with maybe 70-80 runs scored. He also has 30 doubles this season which is third on the team.
Matt LeCroy caught the entire game and was hitless in his 4 at-bats. He left 5 guys on base and allowed 3 stolen bases.
Matt Garza starts tonight and looks to bring the team within 2 games of .500. The scheduled start time is 6:05.
September 24, 2007
Michael Cuddyer hit two singles with the bases loaded to have 4 RBI and Kevin Slowey struck out a career-high 9 batters in 7 innings while allowing just 1 run.
Although Torii didn’t have his best day in the field, diving after a ball that went off his glove and into right field, he had a hit and scored twice, with an intentional walk in his last at-bat.
Garrett Jones hit his first career home run in the second inning.
Jason Bartlett and Jason Kubel, the recent 1-2 punch at the top of the order, combined to go 4-for-8 with 2 walks, 2 strikeouts, and 3 runs scored. Bartlett hit a triple and the rest were singles.
It certainly was emotional for everyone in the Dome as Hunter received a standing ovation each time he came up to bat. There were also extra-loud cheers when he jogged onto the field for warmups, and then obviously when Jason Tyner replaced him the place went nuts. I thought it was a good move on Gardenhire’s part so that Torii could have his own time to be appreciated by the 29,000+ fans that were in attendance.
Most fans should want Torii back simply because there is no clear replacement. If he goes, the team would have to spend more money on a free agent need (which we also have at 3B and DH). It’s a situation that can only be waited out, so I’m actually excited for this offseason. Seeing what kind of players new GM Bill Smith brings in should give fans an idea of which direction the team wants to go.
September 23, 2007
It’s been incredibly hard to get into the most recent Twins games.
Between star players uncertain about their futures (note: two separate links there), an ace pitcher performing well below his standards (again, two links), and a lineup that regularly includes near-worthless veterans such as Rondell White, Luis Rodriguez, Chris Heintz, Jason Tyner, and Nick Punto instead of future-of-the-organization young guns such as Jason Kubel, Brian Buscher, and Alexi Casilla.
To be fair to Heintz, Mike Redmond is still out with a finger injury and it has just been brought to the surface that Joe Mauer has struggled with a possible hernia injury since mid-season.
But there’s no reason for Nick Punto to stop Brian Buscher from gaining defensive experience at the ML level, especially if Gardenhire says that Punto practically has the 2B job heading into spring training next year.
And maybe it’s a good thing we never saw Denard Span get called up from AAA. Generally, if a player gets a September call-up, it means he has a chance to get a starting job the next spring, or at least he is in the team’s immediate plans for the future. Is it possible the Twins are planning for Torii Hunter to be their top offseason priority? One can hope. As much as I may have bashed him in the past, there really is no hope for next season if he is not brought back. Span certainly won’t do the job. I’m not confident the team could find an adequate replacement in free agency, either. It’s such a tough situation with 3B an apparent hole now that Punto is in line for second and Buscher not getting playing time, even when the games don’t count. And a powerful DH is needed for the team, too. In my eyes LF is solid with Jason Kubel showing what he is capable of with his play in August and September.
I’m going to the game today, it starts at 1 and Kevin Slowey is pitching. I want to be positive but also realistic, so I will come out and say it: I could possibly be attending Torii’s last game in the Metrodome with a Twins uniform on. Apparently he got a standing ovation for every at-bat in yesterday’s game, so I imagine today’s will be even more emotional for some. Look for another post recapping today’s game and other thoughts tomorrow morning.
September 18, 2007
The Twins won with 2 runs in the bottom of the 9th last night, one from Michael Cuddyer and one from a Texas error. Joe Mauer also had a homer, his first one in the Metrodome this season, and just his 6th overall (hey that’s as many as Justin Morneau has in the second half this year).
Kevin Slowey pitched 6 strong innings, allowing just 4 hits and 1 run while striking out 7 and walking none. He didn’t get the win because Juan Rincon gave up 2 runs (1 earned) in the very next inning. Joe Nathan ended up with his 4th win on the year after allowing a run in the top of the 9th.
Torii Hunter stole two bases, one of them old-fashioned paying attention style. After hitting a single and a couple throw-overs to first, he noticed the 2B and SS wandering away from second base, looking at the outfield. So he ran. And he ran fast, sliding in safely. Unfortunately Morneau struck out on the very next pitch, but it was still an exciting play.
Speaking of Justin, he won’t be participating in the HR Derby anymore. He thinks his home run dropoff in the second half is due in part to taking so many swings. I really don’t know what to think.
Also, it appears that Nick Punto has the starting 2B job going into next spring. It’s rather obvious that Gardenhire likes Punto a lot, because after his career year last year and fall back down to earth this year, he’s still getting a lot of playing time, mostly for his defense. I like him as a utility guy because he can play everywhere and we’ve all seen his awesome defensive plays, but not being able to lay down a bunt when you’re the smallest, scrappiest guy on the team doesn’t make sense, does it?
September 13, 2007
Carlos Silva lasted just 2 innings last night due to a strained right groin. Boof Bonser was moved to the bullpen before the game and it was announced that Kevin Slowey would start in his place on Sunday. Instead, Slowey came in to relieve Silva, and now he will pitch Monday instead. Scott Baker will pitch on Sunday, and if Silva can’t pitch Tuesday it will be either Boof or Nick Blackburn, who hasn’t started a ML game yet.
Glen Perkins returned to the team and struck out 2 in his first inning back.
Dennys Reyes is scheduled to join the team tomorrow but don’t be surprised if he doesn’t pitch a whole lot. He’s had his fair share of elbow/shoulder problems and the Twins will shut him down if he feels any discomfort.
Slowey gave up 3 runs in 3 and 1/3 innings pitched last night, all coming from homers. He gave up 2 of them and now has allowed 16 in just 48 innings pitched, after allowing 17 in some 300+ innings in his whole minor league career.
Jason Tyner, Jason Kubel, and Torii Hunter all had doubles last night. Other than that, the offense was pretty useless.
There is no game today and Matt Garza pitches tomorrow to start a 3-game series against Detroit.
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