Sunday, April 13, 2008
Sunday Night Update
Hey everyone! For those of you who have not been to the site all weekend, please be sure to scroll down the page as I had postings each day. I figure that posting things daily, rather than lumping three days worth of updates makes more sense. I won't be doing that every weekend, but when I am able to, it will make things a lot easier.
Twins Thoughts (Twins 2, Royals 0)
The Twins fell to the Royals on Sunday afternoon, but more importantly, they won two out of three in the series, something they should try to do every series. Winning a series on the road is even more impressive.
There was one other event in Sunday's game that was rather important too. Maybe you heard, but Francisco Liriano started for the Twins, his first start since late in the 2006 season. As I said on Friday, I thought it was a bad decision to have Liriano make a start at this point, but at the same time, who am I to question. My opinion was that he will likely have a different kind of adrenaline working in a big league game and might overthrow. Not a bad thing on its own, but add in that it was 38 degrees. I can't imagine that is a good thing. I have heard/read people who are disappointed with his performance. My response to that is that I think expecting anything more from him in his first outing was a bit silly. But, I do have a couple of notes on his start:
Liriano went 4.2 innings. He gave up four runs on six hits and five walks. He struck out four. He threw 90 pitches, and 51 of them were strikes. That is the basic information. Here are my observations.
I did my note-taking in the first inning the way that I normally do. I jotted down the count, the pitch type, the velocity (according to FSN) and whether it was a ball or a strike. He threw 15 pitches, ten of them were strikes. Twelve of the first inning pitches were fastballs with two curveballs and a changeup. He started all five hitters with fastballs. With two outs and a runner on second, he threw another first pitch fastball to Billy Butler who didn't try to do too much and hit the pitch up the middle for an RBI single. Obviously I am happy that Mike Redmond decided to primarily let him throw fastballs even if it wasn't best for results.
As evidenced by the five walks, control was an issue, as we all should have expected. His fastball sat between 87 and 89 mph. When he hit 90 or more, the pitches were well out of the strike zone. I thought he had much better control of his curveball and changeup than his fastball in many cases.
Blyleven and Bremer kept referring to Liriano's breaking ball as a slider. But in my mind, the fact that the pitch is eight to ten mph slower than the fastball, and the pitch has a more pronounced downward path, I think it is more of a curveball... just a really sharp curveball.
At some point, it will be nice to see him throw harder, and I have no doubt that he will. When the temperature warms up. When he has made more appearances. Maintaining his health and gaining arm strength is what matters at this point.
Overall, I was optimistic after seeing Liriano's start. Yes, he has to have better control, but we knew that coming in, and that will take time. When healthy in 2006, he had very good control. That will come back. He threw a lot of fastballs, something that I think he should have done in a first outing in the cold. Once he starts mixing up his pitches and specifically first-pitches, he will be much better. Will he ever be what he was in 2006? Man, I hope so! If he can be anywhere close, that is still an All-Star caliber pitcher.
Brian Bass went 2.1 innings and only allowed one base runner. To this point, he has been exactly what the Twins needed from a long reliever. Juan Rincon gave up a long solo home run to Alex Gordon and then got three fly outs. It still bugs me a little bit that the Twins signed him to a one year deal, but since they have, at least he is being used correctly, in situations where the game is not on line.
It was nice to see Jason Kubel batting third in the Twins lineup with Joe Mauer out of the lineup. Kubel has been hitting well, and even when he gets out, he has been hitting the ball hard. How about this lineup when Michael Cuddyer gets back:
Carlos Gomez CF
Joe Mauer C
Jason Kubel DH
Michael Cuddyer RF
Justin Morneau 1B
Delmon Young LF
Mike Lamb 3B
Brendan Harris 2B
Adam Everett (Matt Tolbert) SS
That said, I would also like to see Delmon Young hit in between a couple of the Twins lefties to see if he would get better pitches. Like others, I am anxious to see him start coming into his own and driving the ball to left and left center like he did in spring training. Maybe it's just warm weather?
Brian Bannister is not a strikeout pitcher, so the assumption is that he can not be a successful pitcher. Well, after three-hitting the Twins this afternoon and allowing only an unearned run in the first inning, Bannister is now 3-0 with a 0.86 ERA.
The Twins will now travel to Detroit where they will take on the hapless Tigers. I think we all looked at their every day lineup and were mesmerized by the talent. We knew a couple of other things... they had no depth and any injury would hurt them. Well, right before the season started Curtis Granderson was hurt, and I think that affects the team more than anyone is mentioning. He is such an igniter at the top of the order, but also as the leader in CF. But Gary Sheffield is not 100% Miguel Cabrera has had leg injuries and is now playing some 1B. Carlos Guillen is going to be out several days with hamstring issues. Dontrelle Willis, the team's fifth starter is now on the DL. Actually, that may be a positive for the Tigers as they can bring in a replacement level starter and likely get as much performance.
Monday Night 6:05 - Nick Blackburn (0-1, 2.25 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, .255 BAA) vs Jeremy Bonderman (1-1, 3.97, 1.68, .289)
*Did you know? This will be Blackburn's third career start. It will be Bonderman's 154th. Nick Blackburn is about ten months older than Bonderman.
Tuesday Night 6:05 - Scott Baker (2-0, 4.63, 1.11, .261) vs Nate Robertson (0-1, 7.84, 1.84, .341)
Red Wings Report (Rochester 2, Syracuse 3)
Heath Totten got the start for the Red Wings in place of Francisco Liriano and I have to admit he did better than I thought he would. He gave up two runs (1 earned) on four hits. He didn't walk a batter and struck out three.
The bullpen start was good the rest of the game too. Mariano Gomez went the next three innings and gave up no runs on one hit and one walk. He struck out three. Ricky Barrett took the loss. He gave up a run on a hit in two innings. Casey Daigle threw a shutout inning.
The Red Wings managed just four hits in the game. Jason Pridie was 1-2 with a walk.
Alexi Casilla was also 1-2 with two walks. Although he is hitting just .172 so far this season, he is getting on base. In his last four games, he is 1-7 with nine walks!
The bats were cold again for the Rockcats on Sunday. They had just two hits in the game.
Trevor Plouffe maintained his terrific weekend by going 1-3 with a walk and his first triple of the year.
Oswaldo Sosa had a bad start, but it was incredibly uncharacteristic for the young Venezuelan. In 3.1 innings, he gave up five runs (4 earned) on five hits and SIX walks. He struck out just one.
Jay Sawatski gave up three hits but no runs in the next 2.2 innings. Zach Ward and Armando Gabino each threw perfect innings in relief.
Miracle Matters (Ft. Myers 3, Dunedin 9)
Cole DeVries made another start for the Miracle and fell to 1-1. He went 5.2 innings and gave up five runs on eight hits and three walks. He struck out six.
Then Danny Graves came in and gave up three runs on four hits and a walk in two innings. Yes, that Danny Graves. He was an All Star for the Reds in 2000 and 2004, when he had 41 saves for the team. He has really not been good since then. In 2005, he had a 6.52 ERA between time with the Reds and Mets. In 2006, he had a 5.79 ERA in 13 games for Cleveland. He has not pitched in the big leagues since. Last year, he pitched in 62 games for Long Island of the independent Atlantic League. In 64.2 innings, he walked just 13, but he struck out just 27 hitters. In other words, the Twins are being nice and giving him just one more chance, at age 34, to show that he has anything left in that arm.
Matt Fox then gave up a run on a hit and a walk in 1.1 innings. He struck out two.
Danny Valencia hit his second home run of the year and drove in two runs. Yancarlos Ortiz is known for his glove and his speed, but he went 2-3 in this game. Rene Tosoni went 1-3 with a double and an RBI. Wilson Ramos is hitting just .200. He went 0-2 with two walks.
(Game 1 - Beloit 8, Peoria 3)
The offense was the story in the seven innings of game one. Ben Petsch and Mark Dolenc each went 2-3. Dolenc hit a double. Petsch stole his second base.
Chris Parmelee went 1-3 with a walk and his second double. Garrett Olson was 1-3 with a triple and three RBI. Greg Yersich was 1-2 with a walk, his first double and an RBI.
Dan Berlind started and didn't have much control. In three innings, he gave up two runs on three hits. He walked five and struck out three.
Spencer Steedley recorded the Win as he came in and went the next three innings. He gave up a run on one hit and two walks. He struck out five.
Blair Erickson threw a perfect seventh.
(Game 2 - Beloit 6, Peoria 1)
The bats were the story again in Game 2. Mark Dolenc's great day continued. The OF went 3-3 with his second double and second stolen base.
Steven Singleton was 2-3 with his second double.
Chris Parmelee went 2-3 with his third double, first triple and three RBI.
Brian Kirwan put together his second straight solid start. He went the first five innings to improve to 2-0. He gave up a run on two hits. He walked four, which is too many, but he struck out five hitters.
Matt Williams struck out two in the final two innings.
Got an update from Kyle Waldrop's dad on Kyle. As you know, Kyle has been very active at SethSpeaks over the last couple of years with a few Q&As and participating in the NFL "Expert" Picks. I don't do many of these types of updates, but because of how active Kyle has been, I thought it appropriate to report this. A couple of weeks ago, we heard that Kyle was put on the Disabled List. I just got the update tonight and was given the OK to share some of the information with you. Last Thursday, he had an MRI on his right shoulder. It was reviewed by a trainer and the Twins doctor. It was not really clear or conclusive. So, he has an MRI scheduled in the Twin Cities in a week to ten days. They already have a time scheduled for surgery in preparation for what the MRI reveals. Kyle himself is expecting to have some sort of surgery, hopefully just a scope of some sort, to allow for pain-free range of motion. Kyle is in good spirits and looks forward to moving foreword with whatever is determined the best course. Obviously we wish him the best!
On the Road with Pat Neshek was updated after the Saturday night game.
Have a great week!