Friday, May 22, 2009
Friday Morning Twins Notes
The Twins losing streak ended at six games. And, it ended in style. The Twins beat the White Sox on Thursday afternoon by a score of 20-1! Normally I am not a fan of those types of games, but I really think that the Twins needed a game like that. As great as the offense was, I choose to start with the start of Nick Blackburn. He has been the Twins top starter much of the season. In this game, he threw just 83 pitches over seven shutout innings. He gave up just four hits and walked three.
But everyone wants to talk about the offense, and rightfully so. The first thing that should be mentioned is that Ron Gardenhire finally put Joe Mauer in the #2 spot in the lineup. He has always been a prototypical #2 hitter, the team’s top on-base percentage guy, but he was also the team’s best overall hitter, so it made sense for him to bat third. Now, he is proving himself to be a prototypical #3 hitter, adding power, and he is moved to the #2 spot. But it’s hard to argue because putting out-makers like Alexi Casilla and Matt Tolbert into the second spot makes no sense. Also, Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel have proven that they are worthy of hitting #3 and #4. Michael Cuddyer has been on a tear for a month now and fits into the #5 spot. Joe Crede has added some power, so he is ready to fill that #6 spot. Sure, the bottom of the lineup is pretty weak still, but at least they bat less than the top guys. It will be interesting to see if Gardenhire would use four left handed batters at the top of the order against a left-handed starter. (We will find out tonight when the Brewers send Manny Parra to the mound to face the Twins.)
As Nick Nelson said on the MNGameNight.com podcast on Thursday night, “as long as the Twins average 20 runs a game with Mauer in the two-spot in the lineup, they might as well stick with it.” Hard to disagree with that logic!
· How did Joe Mauer do in that #2 spot of the lineup? Not too bad. He went 3-4 to extend his hitting streak to 14 games. He hit two doubles and a grand slam. Adding a sacrifice fly earlier in the game, and he drove in six runs. Not a bad day at all.
· Michael Cuddyer had another big game. He went 4-6 with his eighth double, sixth home run and three RBI.
· Matt Tolbert hit his first home run of his big league career in the 7th inning. It gave the Twins a 20-0 lead. He had three hits and four RBI on the game.
· Jose Morales had three more hits. He also walked twice. The time he got out, he flew out to the fence in right field. For his efforts, he was returned to AAA Rochester after the game. The move was obvious as Delmon Young had to be taken off of the Family Emergency list before Friday’s game.
· Joe Crede hit his sixth home run, a long shot following the Cuddyer three-run homer.
· Jason Kubel went 3-4 before being replaced by Carlos Gomez, who add another hit.
Now of course, we need to see what the team does to respond. The offense certainly has not been the Twins problem of late. Nick Blackburn has not been a problem at all. So, each game is very much dependent on that night’s starting pitcher. On Friday night, Kevin Slowey and his 4 walk to 35 strikeout ratio will attempt to keep the Brewers offense down. On Saturday, Anthony Swarzak will make his big league debut. On Sunday night’s Game of the Week, Scott Baker will try to put together a strong start. The Twins offense will face lefty Manny Parra, followed by righties Braden Looper and Dave Bush.
If you happen to be going to any of the Twins/Brewers game at the Metrodome this weekend, be sure to pick up a copy (or 13/14 copies) of the Twins scorecard. In it, you will be able to read the Twins Dugout Splinters. I wrote the Twins splinters for the weekend series. Also, if you are able to attend the Twins Autograph Party on Saturday morning, I would recommend it. It is a nice, fun event. You can get autographs if you want, check out some very interesting and fun memorabilia at the auctions, and even meet some players. It’s also just fun to people watch!
With that, here are some more Twins-related articles or stories for you to peruse while downing your Friday morning cup of coffee:
· There is plenty of talk online about the debut of Anthony Swarzak on Saturday for the Twins. Aaron Gleeman, Travis Aune and Josh Johnson each talked about his promotion as well as the loss of Craig Breslow earlier this week.
· Take a minute to read Travis Aune’s thoughts on the Delmon Young situation. It is hard to disagree with his sentiment. By saying that the Twins have to play short-handed the next few days until Young returns from his mother’s funeral is basically like telling him that his mom waited too long to die. I understand that MLB’s current currents dictate that a player can be gone a minimum of three days and a maximum of seven days, and the Twins have to respond to that. Hopefully the league will look at a situation like this and show some leniency in the future, maybe altering the rule to say a minimum of three days, without a maximum.
· Be sure to add the Minnesota Twins page at Examiner.com to your list of must-read Twins sites.
· During the Twins/Brewers series, check out Al’s Ramblings, an excellent blog that discusses the Brewers.
· Coffeyville Whirlwind takes a look at the May 21, 1999, trade of Rick Aguilera to the Chicago Cubs with some great research.
MINOR LEAGUE REPORT
Thursday - SethSpeaks.net Hitter of the Day – Nick Romero, Ft. Myers Miracle
Thursday - SethSpeaks.net Pitcher of the Day – Kevin Mulvey, Rochester Red Wings
Thursday –Rochester 5, Norfolk 4 (12 innings) – The Red Wings enjoyed their off day, and came back with a little overtime effort. Kevin Mulvey started and had a lead going into the 9th. He got two outs but couldn’t get the third without the game being tied. All told, he went 8.2 innings. He gave up three runs on six hits. He walked none and struck out three. Mike Gosling improved to 5-1 with 2.1 scoreless innings. He struck out four. Bobby Keppel recorded his first save of the year. He gave up an unearned run in the bottom of the 12th. Alexi Casilla went 3-5 with his third triple. He is now hitting .353. Justin Huber went 2-5 with his third home run. Matt Macri went 3-5. David Winfree led of the top of the 12th with his sixth home run.
Thursday – New Britain 7, Reading 1 – Ryan Mullins has been much better of late. In this game, he got his second win with six strong innings of work. He gave up one run on five hits. He walked one and struck out four. Frank Mata got four outs, allowing just a walk. Jose Lugo got the next four outs without a run scoring, but he did give up a hit and walked two. Yohan Pino got the final out. Brian Dinkelman went 2-5 with his third homer. Erik Lis was 2-4 with his third homer. Steve Tolleson and Brandon Roberts were each 2-5 with a stolen base. Jeff Christy was 2-4. Danny Valencia hit his fifth homer, and Rene Tosoni hit his sixth home run.
Thursday – Ft. Myers 2, St. Lucie 1 – Nick Romero made his Florida State League debut, and had a memorable game. He played at 2B and went 2-3 with a walk. His final hit came in the bottom of the ninth inning, a single that scored the game-winning run. Chris Parmelee went 2-4. Mike McCardell started and gave up just one run on four hits in six innings. He walked three and struck out seven. Alex Burnett got the win by pitching three shutout innings. He gave up one hit and walked one.
Thursday – Beloit 5, Peoria 7 – The Snappers scored five runs in the 8th inning to cut their deficit to 6-5, but it wasn’t enough. Dan Berlind started and gave up three runs on six hits and a walk in five innings. He struck out seven. Michael Tarsi made his first appearance of the year. He gave up a run on two hits and a walk in two innings. He struck out three. Curtis Leavitt came in for his Midwest League debut. He gave up two runs on a hit and two walks. But he did strike out three. Matt Williams gave up a run on two hits and a walk in his inning. Drew Thompson went 2-3 with a walk. Ramon Santana went 2-4 with his seventh double. Jonathan Waltenbury and James Beresford each had two hits in the loss.