May 2008


Kevin Slowey pitched all 9 innings, allowing just 6 hits and 1 run. He walked none and struck out 6, plus needed just 101 pitches to finish the game. 74 of those were strikes, which is a really impressive number.

 

Delmon Young got the night off, ending his streak of 217 consecutive games played. It shows that Gardy truly didn’t care about the streak because Delmon could’ve pinch-hit and the streak would’ve stayed alive, but he never did.

 

Carlos Gomez jump started the team from the leadoff position, going 4-for-5 with a double and a run scored, plus he drove in two. He did however get caught stealing twice. I wasn’t able to watch the game so I’m not sure, but I’d guess that a failed hit-and-run was involved. Either that or he just couldn’t get a good read on the pitcher.

 

The hapless Royals have now lost 11 in a row. That streak seemed to be ending before Craig Monroe‘s 9th inning blast a couple days ago

 

After sweeping the Royals, the team heads home to face the Yankees. Glen Perkins pitches tonight and it should be a great game because he’s been pitching extremely well recently.

 

Boof Bonser is penciled in to start tomorrow’s game, but it’s more than likely his last start for quite some time. Scott Baker also starts on Saturday, but for his rehab assignment, and it’s generally considered that if Baker pitches well and can come back to the ML team, Bonser is the odd-man out and will be sent to the ‘pen. With Perkins’ 4 quality starts in 4 total starts and Slowey’s complete game last night, and the emergence of Nick Blackburn and Livan Hernandez‘s contract, who else could it be?

 

Also, the team claimed a LHP off of waivers from the Indians, named Craig Breslow. It’s assumed that he’ll join the bullpen so that Dennys Reyes won’t get overworked (even though his last outing saw him throw one pitch, get the out, and get pulled for another reliever). My guess would be that Bobby Korecky gets sent down because frankly, he doesn’t pitch enough up here. Breslow is only 28 years old and has a career 2.95 ERA in the Majors in 34 total games (36 and 2/3 innings pitched). He has walked 24 in those innings but also struck out 33 and given up just 2 homers. It seems like a solid acquisition.

Livan Hernandez lasted 6 innings, allowing 6 earned runs (8 total) on 13 hits. 2 doubles, 11 singles, no walks and a couple of errors, both by Delmon Young, end up scoring 8 times. Livan struck out 2 and did not get a decision.

Delmon’s errors were ridiculous. His fielding one was a sign to me that he may need a mental break from the game. The ball was literally two inches above his glove. It wasn’t like he needed to hustle and dive for the ball to try and catch it. He was right there, underneath it, yet it dropped behind him. His throwing error was mistakenly charged, in my opinion. He threw the ball to the infield and it ended up going all the way to the backstop because Mike Lamb didn’t cut it off and Joe Mauer thought Lamb was going to cut it off, but he didn’t, so Mauer was too far away from it and Hernandez didn’t do a very good job of backing up the catcher on the play.

 

It was a pretty uneventful game, for Twins fans, until the 9th inning. With two outs, and after a single and a base advancement on a wild pitch by Jason Kubel, Mike Lamb got his third hit and second RBI of the night. Most importantly, he didn’t make the third out. Brendan Harris followed with a single of his own and again, didn’t make the last out. Carlos Gomez, 1-for-4 with 2 strikeouts at the time, hit the team’s fourth single of the inning to score Lamb but taking priority is the fact that he didn’t make an out. See the theme? If not, I’ll tell you: none of those batters made the third out in the inning. Meaning Alexi Casilla‘s turn in the order came up. I was wrong when I predicted a start for Craig Monroe. But he still got to play; a pinch-hit for Casilla. The count quickly became 3-0 before Monroe swung at a couple of pitches to make the count full. Then the ball was hung over the plate and Monroe pulled it into the left field corner and to my, and others’, I’m sure, disbelief, it was over the fence for a 3-run home run, tying the game at 8. A 5-run inning, initiated by some Twins small-ball singles and finished by a much-needed home run.

 

Justin Morneau got his first hit of the game in the top of the 10th, but he made it count; a home run over the right field fence.

 

Kudos to the bullpen, throwing 4 shutout innings behind Livan. Especially Bobby Korecky (who rarely pitches) and Dennys Reyes. They combined for 7 pitches (all of them strikes), 1 hit allowed, no walks, no strikeouts, but 1 and 2/3 innings pitched. Pretty remarkable. Also funny is that Jesse Crain only came in to get 1 out but he was credited with the win.

 

Joe Nathan, after blowing his first save of the year two nights ago, picked up his 14th save.

Nick Blackburn pitched exceptionally well, lasting 8 and 1/3 innings. He gave up two runs but didn’t walk anyone and struck out 4. 7 of the 8 hits he allowed were singles. Although technically it was Joe Nathan that gave up the runs. After Nick hit a guy and gave up a single, Joe came in and surrendered a 3-run, inside-the-park home run. Delmon Young was chasing the ball but i think gave up on it because he thought it was going to land foul. It didn’t.

 

 Michael Cuddyer was 3-for-6 with 2 RBIs but struck out with the bases loaded early on in the game. He made up for it by getting an RBI single in the top of the 12th to put the Twins ahead, for good.

 

 Alexi Casilla had 3 hits, including an RBI single. He also got his first stolen base of the year.

 

Justin Morneau also collected 3 hits and they were also all singles. He didn’t drive anyone in but scored once and also had a walk.

Joe Mauer was 0-for-4 but with his 2 walks, he ended up scoring twice (including the game-winning run.)

 

Livan Hernandez pitches tonight and since Jason Kubel was 0-for-5 last night, I’m putting my money on Craig Monroe to start. It could also be because Monroe has two homers in 18 ABs against the Royals’ starter.

I was gone all weekend, had to work during two of the three games against Detroit and the game I could’ve watched – a 19-3 thrashing – I chose not to. Can you blame me?

The team travels to KC for some inner-division games. Nick Blackburn faces Brian Bannister, who gave up just 3 hits and 1 unearned run in 9 innings against us way back on April 13th.

Carlos Gomez collected 4 hits in 5 at-bats, scored twice, drove in three, and made a spectacular grab in center field. Including in that is his 4th homer of the year which, in case you didn’t know, is four times the amount of Joe Mauer, Delmon Young, Mike Lamb, and Adam Everett combined. Coming from a guy who is supposed to be faster than Jose Reyes and has reportedly needs to work on his ability to get on base, I’d say he’s doing pretty good. His average is now up to .286 and in the month of May his hitting line is .318/.375/.545 compared to .253/.260/.354 in April.

 

Speaking of Everett, he went on the DL again yesterday. Matt Macri was called up to “replace” Everett, but expect Brendan Harris to play short with Alexi Casilla at second. Macri can play third or second and I doubt he’ll start but rather come in if the game is a blowout, either in favor of or against the Twins.

 

Casilla batted 9th last night but went 2-for-4 with his first double of the year, he drew a walk, and scored 3 runs. He also helped turn 4 double plays playing second base.

 

Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer both played out of position (DH and first base, respectively) but each drew 2 walks and combined to drive in 3 runs. Cuddy made a throwing error that led to an unearned run but also made a snazzy leaping grab. Craig Monroe played in right but really didn’t do anything; he struck out twice in 4 trips to the plate. Jason Kubel made a pinch-hitting appearance and drew a walk.

 

In April Kubel drew just 3 walks compared to 20 strikeouts in 96 at-bats. Through 40 at-bats this month, he’s got 5 walks and just 6 strikeouts. 5 of his 11 hits this month have been for extra bases while in April those numbers were 5 out of 22. It seems like he’s been performing well enough to play everyday, doesn’t it? But Gardy continues to trot out overpaid vets instead of younger hitters with an actual future. I’ll admit, Monroe has surprised me so far. He has basically the same amount of at-bats as Kubel this month but is hitting just .214 in that time span. He has 9 hits in 42 at-bats; 3 doubles and 2 homers. He has drawn 4 walks but has also struck out 15 times.

 

Livan Hernandez didn’t win or lose, and didn’t pitch incredibly well. He gave up 5 earned runs in 5 and 1/3 innings, throwing 93 pitches total. He allowed 10 hits, 6 were singles and 4 were doubles. He walked 2 and struck out 1.

 

All the good relievers were then used with Matt Guerrier pitching 1 and 2/3 innings (due to his throwing error, an unearned run scored on him), Jesse Crain pitching an inning, and Joe Nathan pitched a scoreless ninth. So Brian Bass was called upon to pitch in the 10th and gave up 2 hits and a walk, and the game-winning homer to Josh Hamilton. He also struck out 2 and his record on the season is now 1-1.

 

The team now travels to Detroit and Kevin Slowey is still looking for win #1 on the year. The team faces a pitcher that faced them on May 2nd and allowed 4 runs (only 2 earned) in 6 innings and it was a game that the Twins won.

I’m at a loss for words on how to describe the thrashing that took place last night (for the record, thrashing isn’t sufficient.)

 

It’s not even the 10 runs scored against us, 3 of those coming against our bullpen.

 

No, no it isn’t that. It’s the fact that Sidney Ponson, the same pitcher who sported a 2-5 record and a 6.93 ERA in 7 starts for the Twins last year, gave up just 1 run through all 9 innings last night, this time against us. In 110 majestical (sarcasm) pitches Ponson managed to strike out 5 Twins (including Justin Morneau twice), allow one walk and just 6 hits.

 

It’s also humorous to see Nick Blackburn pitch a quality start. You may be asking yourself why that’s humorous. Because his final line is this:

IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
6.0 10 7 1 1 4 2 3.55

 

Alexi Casilla‘s missed catch in the 6th, as you can see, really killed us. A 3-run homer, among other scoring plays, happened after what would’ve been the third out had he caught the ball.

 

Milton Bradley was the only Ranger to not get a hit, but to be fair he only had 1 at-bat; he was ejected after arguing a called third strike.

 

Adam Everett got a triple, his first of the year. That brings his extra base hits total up to 7; 5 doubles, the triple, and a homer. Guess how many total hits he has? 14. I think it’s experimentally sound to keep him in the lineup, for the sheer fact that when he actually does get a hit, chances are he’ll end up at least on second.

 

Although Casilla had the team’s only RBI, he joins a slew of other Twins who went hitless. Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, and Mike Lamb combined with Casilla to go 0-for-14 with 2 strikeouts and 0 walks. For the team that scored 11 runs two games ago, it’s pretty interesting how they can completely lay down like this. Especially against Ponson who, by the way, I’m convinced is on steroids. He was throwing 94, 95 mph with his fastball and I don’t think he got above 90 or 91 while with the Twins. The Rangers are pretty much his last chance to make a career for himself and what better way to make sure you perform than by helping yourself like that.

 

Today’s game starts at 12:10 at the Dome, but watch FSN at 7 and that program called Twins Squeeze Play will be on. I figured out that they only do it for non-televised games but I really enjoyed it last time, as you only see 1 pitch per at-bat. Livan Hernandez goes for his 7th win.

Even though the team scored 11 runs, there really isn’t an offensive MVP. Nobody had more than 2 RBI (Alexi Casilla, Delmon Young, and Mike Lamb) and Joe Mauer was the only player with more than 2 hits. Mauer, along with Delmon and Jason Kubel, scored 2 runs as well.

 

Carlos Gomez hit his third triple of the year while Delmon recorded his 4th triple of the year. Mauer, Michael Cuddyer, and Kubel all had doubles.

 

Maybe the MVP should be Glen Perkins, who had a shutout going into the 7th. He ran into some trouble that included loading the bases with no outs, and ended up recording just an out before being pulled. His final line was 6 and 1/3 innings pitched, 2 earned runs (3 total), 6 hits, no walks, and 3 strikeouts. It was good enough to get him his first ML win. So, congratulations to you, Glen Perkins. Brian Bass pitched the rest of the way, giving up 5 hits but just 1 run in 2 and 2/3 innings. And he was on the mound when one of Perkins’ runners scored, but they still charge that to Glen, not Bass.

 

Gomez looks a lot more patient at the plate. He’s taking more pitches, not swinging at sliders low and away (Torii Hunter?) and in general seems to be learning at a fairly quickly rate. In April he had 1 walk to just 24 strikeouts and so far in May he has 4 walks to 19 strikeouts. What’s kind of surprising is that he hasn’t stolen a base (or even attempted to) since the Boston series, which was May 9th-12th. I wonder if there’s concern for his wrist injury still.

 

In some injury news, Matt Tolbert needs surgery on his hand and could miss up to two months. I’m sure this means Howie Clark will be up here for some time still. Denard Span also broke a finger getting hit by a pitch and will miss about one month.

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