I was unable to watch any part of the game, but saw a brief highlight on ESPN…that counts as watching the game, right? No? Well, maybe not, but I have to say that the highlight I saw showed Francisco Liriano throwing his slider to make hitters look ridiculous. It also showed him getting out of a bases-loaded jam, something that probably ends up being more of a mental challenge rather than a test of physical ability. To me, Liriano showing the poise to get out of such a situation is an immediate sign that he’s improved on more than just his velocity and mechanics (both give us hope for the future, by the way.) In the end he had allowed just three singles in six innings of work. From what I’ve read, he wanted to throw his fastball right away to each hitter but he had a tough time controlling it and that definitely contributed to his three walks. But aided by a key double play and nifty defensive move by first baseman Mike Lamb, Liriano didn’t allow any runs in his six innings of work. He struck out five and had eight groundball outs compared to five fly outs and those numbers are also really encouraging. In all honesty, I just can’t wait to actually watch him pitch in his next start.
Offensively, Denard Span continues to hold on to the lead off spot, and for good reason. He was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI, including his second homer of the season (off former Twin Juan Rincon, no less.) I’m anxious to see who goes to the bench when Michael Cuddyer comes back. It’s pretty much guaranteed that he will go into right field immediately, but you can’t get rid of Span with how good he’s been playing lately (offensively and defensively.) Span’s hitting line is now up to .315/.403/.865 with a very good 21:19 K:BB ratio. Those numbers are through 130 at-bats this season; let’s compare them with Carlos Gomez‘s month of June, in which he had 130 ABs: .236/.266/.575 with 28 strikeouts and 4 walks. I think it’s clear to most fans that Gomez certainly has the potential to be a fantastic player, some day. I don’t believe that day will happen at any point this season, or really next season for that matter. He needs to develop more and simply hasn’t shown improvement this year. Frankly, he’s the first candidate to get demoted when Cuddyer comes back. You can’t bench him. I don’t believe you can bench Delmon Young, and there’s no need for 5 outfielders on the ML team (I’d consider Jason Kubel the 4th outfielder in that scenario.) But I don’t know how well Gomez would take a demotion. I certainly hope he’s mature enough to realize that there’s a(some) problem(s) and that they need fixin’.
Brendan Harris hit his 6th homer of the year yesterday, a solo shot in the 3rd inning. I have a feeling he is close to a hot streak and his final numbers will mirror the .286 batting average, 12 homers, and 35 doubles he had last season.
The bullpen kind of blew up yesterday, with Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier combining for 2 IP, 4 hits, and 2 runs allowed. They are lucky the Twins had scored 5 runs up to that point or we could still be in second place in the AL Central standings.
Yes that’s right folks, the Twins now hold a .5 game lead over the Chicago White Sox!
The Twins now travel out west for a 3-game set with the Mariners. Tonight’s and tomorrow’s game starts at 9:10 central time while Wednesday’s starts at 3:40. Glen Perkins looks for his 9th win tonight.