April 2008


Carlos Gomez was given the day off a couple games ago in hopes to get his mind back on track. He responded by hitting a lead-off homer, his first of the year and third of his career. The lead wouldn’t last long.

 

Francisco Liriano had quite possibly the worst first inning ever that didn’t include a home run being hit. Actually, I can’t even call it an inning; he recorded just two outs and was pulled for Brian Bass. The order of events is as follows: lead off walk, single, pop out, walk, 2-run single, walk, RBI single, 2-run single with a runner being thrown out at third for the second out, another single, and that’s when Bass came in. Bass gave up an RBI single to the #1 batter of the A’s lineup for another run charged to Francisco. Finally the third out was recorded and in just one inning, Oakland scored runs in one inning that the Twins could never dream of getting in a full game.

 

Bass gave up 3 earned runs in 3 and 1/3 innings and Jesse Crain, Dennys Reyes, and Juan Rincon finished the game out.

 

In all the offense was pretty lackluster. Delmon Young had a couple hits and Brian Buscher drove in Mike Redmond, who was on second because of his first double of the year.

 

To more important things: reliever Bobby Korecky has been called up but there’s no word on who will go down. I’m assuming it’s Liriano, because Gardy said Liriano needs more confidence to be effective at the ML level. We should find out who it is at some point today.

Also, Michael Cuddyer was activated from the DL. Denard Span had to be sent down to make room, but I think Denard took it well. He got his chance way earlier than anyone expected and now just has to play solid baseball at AAA to stay first in line if we need another OF.

 

Encouraging news for Jason Kubel fans (hey, that’s me!): Gardenhire has gone on record to say that he won’t hit anyone in place of Kubel if he’s facing a lefty. “I don’t worry about who he’s facing anymore.”

 

The Twins travel to Texas for a 3-game stint before an off day and then they come home to face the White Sox. Nick Blackburn looks for his second win tonight.

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Boof Bonser allowed just 2 runs in 6 innings last night (that’s a Quality Start for those keeping track at home) but didn’t get the win. In fact, he got a loss, because the team scored 0 runs. In fact, 4 of his 5 starts have been ones where he went at least 6 innings and gave up 3 or less earned runs. The problem he had last night was walking 4 batters but he still only allowed 3 hits. He truthfully didn’t look that sharp to me, but he kept us in the game and there’s nothing more you can ask for.

 

As I said, the offense was non-existent. Jason Kubel had 2 singles, Joe Mauer had a double, there were 3 other singles scattered around and that’s it. Denard Span started in CF and lead off, giving Carlos Gomez a day (or two?) off to try and get him back on track. What that track is, I don’t really know. Other than a few 3- or 4-hit games, Gomez has been pretty overmatched at the plate. His defense is fine, is baserunning is superb, he just has to put in time – a ton of it – to help the team out.

 

Today’s game starts at 2:35 and it’s the last game in this west coast series (thankfully.) Francisco Liriano will try for his first win in an attempt to get the Twins back to .500.

Craig Monroe finally showed fans why the Twins are paying him $3,820,000 this season. He went 3-4 with 3 RBI and 2 runs scored, including his first homer of the year, to help the team score the 5 runs necessary to beat the A’s. Delmon Young and Jason Kubel helped too, Young collecting 2 hits and scoring a run while Kubel only had one hit but he scored a run and also had an RBI.

 

Mike Lamb also went 3-4 and had an RBI, but his batting average is still just .186. I’m still a believer that he can be a successful and productive 3B for us, and truthfully his slump isn’t as bad as Carlos Gomez‘s. He did have that great diving catch a few days ago, but is 1-18 in his last 4 games. He also has 7 strikeouts and 0 walks in that span (in fact, only has 1 walk all season, and it came in the first game) and hasn’t stolen a base since April 16th. Gomez made his first error last night, too. But Denard Span hasn’t done much, either. Even though he stole his 3rd base of the season last night, he’s hitting .222 in his limited time up here, and all of his hits have been singles.

 

Speaking of stolen bases, Nick Punto picked up his 2nd of the year last night also. But, he also made a fielding error (which I didn’t see.)

 

Livan Hernandez, for lack of a better word, labored last night. He threw 109 pitches in just 6 innings, allowing 7 hits and 4 runs. He walked 2, struck out 3, and gave up a 2-run dinger in the 6th inning.

Luckily, Juan Rincon pitched better than he has and didn’t give up any runs while bridging the gap to Pat Neshek, who also pitched a scoreless inning (it took him just 7 pitches). Joe Nathan got 3 strikeouts to record his 7th save of the season. The team has just 10 wins and if this pace keeps up, Nathan is in line for a career year:

 

Team Wins 65 70 75 80 85
Saves Pace 45.5 49 52.5 56 59.5

 

Nathan has never saved more than 44 games in a season.

 

Notes from other things remotely involving the Twins-

DH Frank Thomas was released by the Blue Jays recently and some Twins fans think the team should make a move to sign him. I’m of the opinion that it’s a horrible idea, and here’s why:

  • Let’s assume he’d be our DH; when Michael Cuddyer gets back, where does Kubel play? Delmon has LF locked up
  • Thomas wants to play for a contender. I’m not saying the Twins suck, but I like to be realistic when thinking that it’d be a shock to everyone if we made the playoffs this year
  • Thomas is on his way down, as far as careers go. The Twins are trying to build for 2010, i.e. the opening of the new ballpark

If anybody has reasons why the team should make a move to sign him, please feel free to put them into a comment.

 

Looking at the 2008 MLB draft, it’s encouraging to see the Twins with 3 picks in the first 31 selections of the draft. Although it’s almost a given they will select a lesser prospect higher than they should, simply due to money issues, it still gives them a chance to get a possible future star and a couple more legitimate ball players. Although I don’t believe I ever posted about it, I kind of liked the idea of not signing Craig Monroe (and still don’t, even after last night’s performance) and instead spending that $3,820,000 on additional draft budget, allowing the team to possibly sign more high-profile players.

 

Today is April 23rd, which just happens to be my birthday. Beyond that, I want to give thanks to the Star Tribune for the 4 following baseball facts:

  • Ted Williams hit his first ML homer on April 23rd, 1939
  • Hank Aaron hit his first ML homer on April 23rd, 1954
  • Hoyt Wilhelm, the pitcher with a 2.52 ERA in 2,254 and 1/3 career innings pitched, hit the only home run of his career in his first ever at-bat
  • Fernando Tatis, the only player ever to hit two grand slams in the same inning, did so on April 23rd, 1999

Needless to say, those are 4 stats I probably won’t ever forget. I also happen to know 3 other people with the same birthday as me: my dentist, my uncle, and a girl from my school (I’m only about 2 hours older than her.)

Jason Kubel apparently is looking for a long-term deal. My computer has a fit every time I try to go to the Pioneer Press website so I can’t give you the link, but either way the Twins would be stupid to work out something involving big money with him right now. I say at the minimum let him play until 2009’s All-Star Break and if he is still producing like I know he can, then it might be worth it. You can’t take chances with previously injured players, the organization has to make sure he is solid and can play 150+ games a year.

 

Kevin Slowey made his first rehab start and gave up just 1 hit in 3 innings. The hit, however, was a homer. He only waked 1 and struck out 5; those are pretty encouraging numbers. I believe he’s scheduled for at least another one and then it’s up to the team to decide what they want to do. They can call Slowey up and send Brian Bass or possibly even Francisco Liriano back to AAA to make room for Slowey. Or maybe they have a trade in the works.

 

Ok they probably don’t have a trade in the works, but it’s an option at this point.

It was a fitting game for the Twins’ first extra innings of the season and their first walk-off win of the year, too. After Carlos Gomez made a pretty sweet catch in the bottom of the 9th to help preserve the tie, Justin Morneau came up with runners on the corners and hit the ball into right field, allowing Brendan Harris to score his second (and the winning) run. Between those two and Jason Kubel hitting between them, they won the game. Harris had his first homer of the year and collected 3 hits. Kubel had 2 hits and a walk, the walk coming in the 8th with 2 outs, giving Morneau a chance to grab a lead (he struck out) and one of the hits was a single in the 10th to advance Harris over to third.

 

Brian Buscher, called up when Adam Everett hit the DL, had a double in 4 at-bats and didn’t make any mistakes at third base. With Morneau being the DH, Mike Lamb tried out at first base and did a good job. Buscher also got some work in when Craig Monroe pinch-hit for Lamb.

 

After Nick Blackburn got his first ML win, Scott Baker pitched a very good game but the offense was dead to that point and didn’t get his third win of the year. He gave up just 1 run through 7 innings though, and I’d certainly take that start any day of the week. He allowed 4 singles and a double with one walk but struck out 8 and threw exactly 100 pitches.

 

I apologize for not posting recently, but I’m trying my best. With a new job that usually has me working until 9:30 or 10 on weeknights, it’s tough to write anything meaningful because I didn’t watch the game plus I usually go to bed around that time so I can get up in time for school. I know there will be a post up on Wednesday for sure, but other than that I can’t really make any guarantees, other than I’ll try. During the summer it’ll be way easier, but that’s more than a month away and I need to put up at least something until then. Please stick with me and don’t think I quit posting or something.

Scott Baker, although he didn’t get a W, pitched a great game. He lasted 7 innings and gave up just 3 runs, all coming on solo homers. Sound familiar? In his start before last night he lasted 5 innings and gave up 3 runs, all coming on solo homers. In 18 and 2/3 innings pitched he’s allowed 6 homers. In other words, he’s on pace to give up exactly 60 home runs this season, going off of how much he’s pitched thus far and stretching it out over 30 starts. Now, obviously it’s pretty unlikely he actually will give up that many, but it shows that he maybe has been watching Johan Santana (4 HR given up in 20 and 2/3 innings this year, on pace for 40 allowed) a little too much.

 

For having the “best bullpen in baseball”, the Twins’ bullpen sure has been horrible as of late. After giving up a 5-run lead last night, the bullpen shoved Jesse Crain into the has-pitched-like-garbage category. It took him 27 pitches to get through an inning that saw the Tigers get a 2-run homer and an RBI double. He also walked one and struck out one, not that they matter in the big picture of last night. It honestly seems like, besides Joe Nathan of course, that Brian Bass is the team’s best reliever at this point. Between Pat Neshek and Matt Guerrier‘s getting demolished two nights ago, Dennys Reyes not pitching that much, Juan Rincon being his typical bad pitcher without his steroids, and Crain’s loss last night, Bass’s 3.27 ERA in 11 innings pitched (leads all relievers) looks awfully good.

 

Bright spots on offense were Carlos Gomez‘s 5th double of the year and then stealing third and eventually scoring, Justin Morneau‘s 4th homer of the year (2-run shot), Joe Mauer‘s 2 hits, 2 RBI, and run scored, and Craig Monroe getting 2 hits against his former team, including an RBI single in the 9th.

The “dim” spots were Brendan Harris failing to collect a hit, Jason Kubel going 0-for-4 with 3 strikeouts, and Mike Lamb going hitless in 4 at-bats, including one in the 9th with Monroe on first and the team down 6-5.

 

Apparently Adam Everett‘s erroneous through to Morneau a couple nights ago was cause for concern. He’ll have his throwing shoulder examined today in hopes that there’s something wrong, explaining his weak arm as of late. It could only be a blessing in disguise because Matt Tolbert has been tearing it up and seems pretty solid defensively, too. I’m not as down on the Everett signing as most people, but frankly I think he’s under-performed thus far. We signed him for his defense which is why I’m not upset when he doesn’t collect a hit, but when he can’t even make the throw to first…something is probably wrong.

 

As it was just a 2-game set with Detroit (thankfully), Livan Hernandez and the team travel back home to face the Tampa Bay Rays. Hernandez will attempt to get his league-leading 4th win of the year, not to mention pitch deep into the game so we don’t have to risk blowing another lead with this bullpen.

That was my second choice as a title. I wanted to avoid any infringement possibilities by creating my own, less-appealing heading. But as the title says, the team had multiple 5-run leads and blew them both. All 11 of Detroit’s runs were scored between the 6th, 7th, and 8th innings.

 

Nick Blackburn was cruising along, allowing 5 hits and no runs through 5 and 2/3 innings. Then Gary Sheffield reached on an infield single, and it was all downhill from there. He ended up getting pulled before the inning was over, allowing a total of 8 hits and 4 runs. Matt Guerrier, arguably our best reliever from last season, rolled over and let the Tigers run wild against him. He lasted an inning and a third, allowing 5 hits and 5 runs (4 earned). Although, Pat Neshek inherited two of Guerrier’s runners and they scored on Ivan Rodriguez‘s triple (one of two triples given up by ‘Shek in the game.)

 

The lineup obviously did fairly well, scoring 9 runs. But of the team’s 13 hits, 11 were singles. Delmon Young and Adam Everett each had a two-bagger. In fact, Young had 3 hits and scored 3 times, plus he drove in 2. Jason Kubel and Brendan Harris were the other Twins to have 2 RBI, although both of them only scored once. Joe Mauer was hitless but drew 3 walks and scored on two of them. Bert gave his “a lead off walk always comes around to score” spiel when Mauer led off the 6th with a walk and sure enough, he later came in to score.

 

Other notables: Everett had his third error of the season, this one coming on a short throw to Justin Morneau who couldn’t field it cleanly, allowing the runner to reach safely. Denard Span, hitting in the second spot, threw out Edgar Renteria at second base.

Young and Carlos Gomez each had a stolen base. It was Young’s 3rd and Gomez’s 6th.

A note from a recent Pioneer Press column: “Alexi Casilla” was benched recently in AAA Rochester for not hustling against Norfolk.” This kid, much like Matt Garza, needs an attitude check.

 

In short, I’m really scared that the game was the spark necessary for the Tigers to start performing like they should with the lineup they have. It’s key for Scott Baker to silence them again and make sure to pick his spots so Detroit doesn’t smash the ball all over the field like they did last night. The game starts at 6:10 again.

 

Oh, and the Minnesota Wild won their second straight game, in overtime again, 3-2 over the Avalanche. I’m not a huge hockey fan so I didn’t watch it, but it’s always nice when a hometown team gets a win in a  playoff series (even the Wolves!)

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