Monday May 24, 2004
SHELLED BY SOX (A couple more times!)
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORT
SPLIT GAMES WITH LAKERS
I almost don't want to do an update
of the weekend. There was some good, but a lot of bad for both the
Twins and the Timberwolves. But at least for the Twins, we know it's
a long season, and the fact that Justin Morneau was called up
on Friday (and connected for his 1st homer on Saturday) makes at
least one positive. The Wolves had a lot of positive to go with the
negative of Friday night's Game 1 loss to the Lakers. So, let's get
By the way, if you didn't check out
Kirk's New-Look Power Rankings article from last Friday, click
here. It's worth checking out! We would love to hear more of
your thoughts. E-mail
me or E-mail Kirk
and let us know what you think.
ROUGH WEEKEND FOR TWINS!
FRIDAY - TWINS 2 WHITE SOX 8
After getting beating badly by the Sox Thursday
night, 10-3, the Twins played another horrible game Friday
night. Mark Buehrle did pitch well for the Sox, limiting
the Twins to 2 runs over 7 innings. Shingo Takatsu
pitched two scoreless innings in relief. The story, at least
early in the game, was the pathetic Twins defense. Fact is, just
one of the four infielders has been playing that position the
whole season. Michael Cuddyer has been adequate at third.
Gardy decided to play Jose Offerman at 2B (to get his bat
in the lineup) instead of Alex Prieto and because of
Luis Rivas' groin injury. That didn't go so well as he can't
really catch or throw. Justin Morneau will probably be
judged for a couple of poorly played balls Friday night. We know
he's not a great defensive first baseman, but people need to
quit comparing him to Doug Mientkiewicz because no 1B in
baseball plays the position as well as as him. With Carlos
Silva, a groundball pitcher, on the mound, he gave up four
early runs, two of which were unearned, although I think that
none of those runs were really assisted by errors to Offerman
and Morneau. The Twins were never able to right themselves or
catch up. Silva lasted just four innings again. Joe Roa
deserves a lot of credit. I don't care what his numbers looked
like, but the simple fact that he was able to give the team 5
innings was huge.
Juan Uribe went 3-4 with a walk. Timo
Perez was 2-5 with a 2 run homer in the 6th inning.
Magglio Ordonez went 2-5 with an RBI. Jose Valentin
went 2-5 with a double, a homer and 2 RBI. For the Twins,
Cristian Guzman went 2-4. Michael Cuddyer hit the
ball well. He had an RBI double in the 4th inning. In the 7th,
he hit a solo homer, his fourth of the season.
SATURDAY - TWINS 9 WHITE SOX 1
Saturday night, the Twins were able to get some
early runs and this time, they were able to add to the lead. In
the first, Jacque Jones grounded out for an RBI before
Matthew Lecroy hit a two run homer to give the Twins a 3-1
lead. In the fourth inning, Justin Morneau hit his first
Twins homer of the season, a long blast up to the football press
box above the baggy in right field. He was labeled last year as
not being able to hit lefties or off-speed pitches. Well,
Neal Cotts, a southpaw, threw a curveball the Morneau
deposited. On the game, Morneau went 3-3 with a walk and the
homer. Later in the game, he had a solid RBI single off of lefy
Kelly Wunsch. Michael Cuddyer hit well again. He
was 3-4 with a walk and two doubles. Lew Ford and
Cristian Guzman each had two hits (Guzzy had a double).
Brad Radke proved that the term "ace"
could be applied to him. The team needed to slow down the White
Sox offense, and Brad Radke and his changeup was the
perfect pitcher to keep the Sox off-balance. He went 7 innings
and gave up 6 hits and one run. However, he walked none and
struck out 5. He was hitting his spots and letting the defense
SUNDAY - TWINS 7, WHITE SOX 17
So, could the Twins take their momentum from
Saturday's game into Sunday's game? I mean, the guy so many
people seem to want to call the Twins' "ace", Johan Santana
was on the mound. Well, Santana gave up three first inning runs.
Then after the Twins scored four for him in the bottom of the
inning, Santana stayed terrible. In 3 innings, he gave up 10
hits and walked two. He gave up 7 earned runs. His record falls
to 2-2 and his ERA is now 5.60. Grant Balfour came in and
gave up 2 hits and a walk without recording an out, and all
three came in to score (along with the two runners that he
inherited from Santana). Aaron Fultz came in and gave up
his inherited runs plus 2 more runs, but at least he was able to
get 6 outs! Terry Mulholland came in and got one out,
gave up 4 hits and a walk, and all 5 scored. JC Romero, Juan
Rincon and Joe Nathan combined for 3 2/3 innings
scoreless innings. Fortunately Cristian Guzman homered
for the extra point in the Bears 17-7 win over the Vikings (I
mean, Sox win over the Twins).
White Sox numbers - Aaron Rowand went 4-7
with 4 runs, 3 RBI, a double and a homer. Carlos Lee went
4-5 with a double and 6 RBI. Juan Uribe went 3-7 with 3
runs, a walk, a double and a homer. O-E-O Magglio went
3-7 with a triple, three runs and 2 RBI. Paul Konerko was
1-1 with 4 walks. Miguel Olivo went 3-6 with a homer, 2
runs and 2 RBI. Frank Thomas went 2-4 with a walk. Jon
Garland gave up 6 runs in the first 3 innings, but still
went 7 innings. The Twins didn't score on him after that.
For the Twins, Cristian Guzman continued
his good weekend with a 3-4 performance. He hit a 9th inning
homer. He scored two runs and knocked in two runs. Torii
Hunter went 2-2 with a walk. Doug Mientkiewicz went
2-4 with 2 RBI. Michael Cuddyer went 0-3, but he did
drive in 2 runs.
SUMMARY - Two things come to mind for me. The
first is that the White Sox have a pretty good team. As Twins fans,
we like to talk about how we don't like the Sox and we don't like
their announcers and we don't like this player or that player.
However, we have to acknowledge that the White Sox have a good team.
I was wrong about them in my preseason predictions. I saw their
lineup against the Twins in a couple of these games. When Magglio
Ordonez, Frank Thomas, Javy Valentin, Paul Konerko and Joe
Crede are hitting consecutively, that is a lot of power. Mark
Buehrle is a very good pitcher. If the Sox had another solid
start, I would think they would have to be the favorites in this
The other point is really just an excuse, an excuse I
hope the Twins don't use, even if they could. This injury situation
is absolutely ridiculous! I have never seen anything like this. On
Saturday's game of the week, the talk was about the Cubs injury
situation, with Mark Prior, Kerry Wood and Sammy Sosa
on the Disabled List (along with Mark Grudzielanek). Yes,
those are higher impact players certainly, but the sheer volume of
the injuries the Twins have faced is crazy. Currently, Joe Mauer,
Shannon Stewart, Nick Punto, Luis Rivas and Corey Koskie
are on the Disabled List. Torii Hunter and Matthew Lecroy
have both spent time on the DL. And Doug Mientkiewicz just
missed 4 or 5 games with a back injury. All told, that is just a lot
of players missing. It creates bad lineups and bad defenses. So,
hopefully the Twins will get a full lineup one of these weeks and
just go with a lineup for awhile and see what happens.
Are the White Sox better than the Twins? I don't
think I can answer that at this point. For right now, the Sox are
absolutely a better hitting team. That's unquestionable even if the
Twins have their full lineup intact. I think that the Twins could
have better pitching, both in the rotation and in the bullpen. That
wasn't shown this weekend however! Normally you would like to say
the Twins have a better defense. Again, with all the injuries, that
is not being shown.
NEXT UP - The Twins have a much needed day off
today. The travel to Tampa tonight and will start a three game
series with the Devil Rays tomorrow night? The Devil Rays have a
better team than their record would indicate. They have a fun,
exciting team to watch. Aubrey Huff, Rocco Baldelli and
Carl Crawford are all solid. The one question I have for them is
how long can they keep uber-prospect BJ Upton in the minor
leagues. BJ Upton was the #1 overall pick in the 2002 draft out of
high school in Virginia (a year after Joe Mauer was taken #1
out of high school). He started the year by performing well in the
D-Rays training camp. He started the year and crushed AA pitching .
Two weeks ago, the Rays were going to call him up to the big league
club, but on his way to the airport, the Rays called him again and
told him they changed their mind and sent him up to AAA. Well, in
two weeks there, he he has started by hitting .364/.417/.705 with
three doubles and four homers. His only negative is 13 strikeouts in
48 plate appearances. Just some extra information, BJ's younger
brother, Justin, is a junior in high school and has been the #1
ranked player in his age group each of the last four years, and is
expected to be a top pick in the 2005 major league baseball draft.
Any thoughts on the Twins, their poor weekend
performance or the upcoming Devil Rays series?
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORTS
You know, people want to talk about how injured
the Twins team is. Well, the effects of those injuries are felt
at the AAA level. Alex Prieto, Justin Morneau and
Michael Restovich have all been called up to the Twins in
the last week. Add in the fact that Jason Bartlett has
not played for awhile because of his injury. On a positive note,
Jason Kubel came up to the team and had at least one hit
FRIDAY - Redwings 2, Richmond 13 - Jason
Kubel, in his first AAA game, batted third for the Redwings. He
went 2-4 with an RBI. Catcher Chris Heintz went 2-3. Carlos
Pulido made another bad start for Rochester. He went 2/3 of an
inning. He gave up 6 hits and four earned runs and 2 homers.
Jeromy Palki went 4 1/3 scoreless innings in relief giving up
just four hits. Adam Johnson and Ryan Mills were both bad as
SATURDAY - Redwings 4, Richmond 5 -
Michael Restovich left Rochester on a good note, he hit his 11th
homer of the season, a two-run shot. Elvis Corporan, who came to
the Redwings on Friday from their extended spring training in
Florida, played 3B and went 2-3. Matt Guerrier actually didn't
pitch poorly. He gave up six hits and a walk for three runs (2
earned) in 6 innings. He struck out six. Kevin Hodge gave up two
runs in two innings for the loss. Jason Kubel was 1-4.
SUNDAY - Redwings 9, Richmond 2 - David
Gassner finally had an off game. He went 5 innings and gave up
10 hits and five runs for the loss. Jason Kubel was 1-3 with a
walk. Chris Heintz went 2-4 with a double and an RBI. 1B Ryan
Owens went 2-3.
Chris Heintz' name has come up a lot
lately. So far this year, he is hitting .333/.347/.542 with 5
homers and 22 RBI for Rochester. He is not a prospect because of
his age, but deserves recognition. Here is what I wrote about
him when I discussed the
Invitees in December:
New to the Twins organization,
Heintz was the 19th round draft pick of the
Chicago White Sox in 1996 out of the University of South
Florida. The 29 year old catcher was with the Sox
organization through the 2001 season. He spent 2002 with the
AA affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals organization. He
spent 2003 with the AA affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
In his 8 year minor league career, he has hit .283 with just
33 home runs. He must have a good glove.
David Gassner is now 6-2 with a 3.02 ERA.
Matt Guerrier is 2-4, but has an ERA of just 3.18.
Peter Munro is 5-2 with a 3.29 ERA.
NEW BRITAIN ROCK CATS
FRIDAY - Rockcats 1, Norwich 2 - Victor
Moreno continues to pitch very well. He made his first start
of the season, after coming out of the bullpen his first 13
games, and went 5 1/3 innings. He gave up no runs on 4 hits and
a walk. Jon Pridie and Bobby Korecky pitched 2 2/3
scoreless innings of relief. Beau Kemp came into the game
with a 1-0 lead. He got one out, but gave up 3 hits and 2 runs
to take the loss. Catcher Gabby Torres went 2-4 with 2
doubles and an RBI. 1B Garrett Jones went 2-4.
SATURDAY - Rockcats 2, Norwich 1 - The
Rockcats got more excellent pitching. Boof Bonser pitched
well for the second straight game. In 6 innings, he gave up a
run on three hits (And FOUR walks). He struck out 2. Pat
Neshek got the win with 2 innings of 1 hit ball. Bobby
Korecky got the save despite giving up a hit and a walk. CF
James Tomlin and 2B Luis Maza each had two hits in
four at bats. Maza also had a double.
SUNDAY - Rockcats 4, Norwich 2 - Another
well pitched game, and another great performance from Scott
Baker! After losing a perfect game in the last inning of his
first AA game, Baker went 8 innings in his second start for New
Britain. He gave up 2 runs (1 earned) on 4 hits and a walk. He
struck out 6. Luis Maza went 2-4 with an RBI. 3B Jake
Mauer went 2-4 with a triple and 2 RBI.
Last week, I mentioned that Luis Maza may
be worth considering as a prospect. Here are his numbers so far
this year. He is hitting .335/.380/.503 with 10 doubles, 3
triples, 4 homers and 23 RBI. I think those are some
prospect-like numbers! He is 23 years old. Kevin West, a
6-2, 210 pound outfielder/DH, is hitting .299/.343/.530 with 15
doubles, 7 homers and 34 RBI in the middle of the lineup.
FORT MYERS MIRACLE
FRIDAY - Miracle 1, Dunedin 0 - Manny
Tejada started and gave up two hits and a walk and four
strikeouts in 5 innings. Travis Bowyer picked up the win
with 3 no-hit, one-walk innings. He struck out four. Justin
Olson picked up his 5th save with a two strikeout 9th.
Trent Oeltjen had a double, the lone extra-base hit among
the Miracle's four hits.
SATURDAY - Miracle 1, Dunedin 3 -
Francisco Liriano didn't pitch poorly. He gave up one run on
6 hits and 2 walks (and struck out 7) in 6 innings. Erik
Lohse took the loss, giving up two runs in just 2/3 of an
inning. DH Doug Deeds went 2-4 with a double and an RBI.
RF Alex Romero went 2-4.
SUNDAY - Miracle 4, Dunedin 8 - 1B
Brett Tamburrino went 2-4 with an RBI. DH Doug Deeds
went 2-3 wit ha walk and a 2-run homer. Josh Gray went
just 2 innings in the start. He gave up 6 runs (5 earned) on 7
hits and 2 walks. Jason Miller struck out four hitters in
his two inning stint.
Certain names are showing up more frequently than
others in these updates. Danny Matienzo is 23 years old
and plays some 1B and some catcher. He is hitting .301/.363/.383
so far. DH/OF Doug Deeds is 22 years old. He is hitting
.299/.373/.488. Travis Bowyer (22) has pitched 25 innings
in 14 relief outings. He is 2-0 with a 0.36 ERA. He has given up
just one earned run. He has struck out 25 hitters (and walked
15!. 21 year old Jason Miller has pitched in 16 games out
of the bullpen. In 24 innings, he has given up just five earned
runs and 8 walks. He has struck out 31 hitters. He is 1-0 with a
THE SWING OF THE QUAD CITIES
FRIDAY - Swing , Cedar Rapids - Game
SATURDAY - Swing 0, Peoria 4 - The Swing
had just five singles in this contest. No one had more than one.
Adam Harben fell to 1-4. He went 5 2/3 innings. He gave up 4
runs (3 earned) on 8 hits and 3 walks. Julio DePaula and Chris
Schutt pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings in relief.
SUNDAY - Swing 8, Peoria 12 - Six pitchers
gave up at least one run for the Swing. Catcher Kyle Phillips
went 4-5 at the plate with a double, a homer and 3 RBI. CF Ryan
Spataro went 2-4 with a double and two RBI. 2B Paul Rutger went
2-4 with 2 RBI.
21 year old
Taylor was a 24th round pick of the Twins in 2000. He
leads the team with stats of .281/.361/.375. He has walked 16
times and struck out 17 times.
Span was the Twins first round pick (20th overall) in
the 2002 draft. He is spending his first season with a full
season minor league team. His average has improved to
.256/.345/.288. The on-base percentage is pretty good
considering his batting average. He has walked 17 times with 23
strikeouts. The speedster is 11 of 15 in stolen base attempts.
22 year old
DePaula has gone 5-2 with a 1.84 ERA. He has pitched 29
1/3 innings in 15 games. He has walked 8 and struck out 30.
Any questions or comments on the Twins minor league
WOLVES/LAKERS SPLIT, HEAD TO LA
Friday, I made my
Finals Predictions here. I said that the Wolves would win
their series with the Lakers in 6 games. To do that, they needed to
play incredibly well, hope to catch the Lakers in one of their
patented lulls, and get a strong performance from Sam Cassell.
FRIDAY NIGHT - GAME 1 - WOLVES
88, LAKERS 97
Well, I began to have doubts after watching much
of Game 1 on Friday. My prediction for Game 1 was that the
Lakers would win by 20-25 points. The reasons? Because of how
much energy they needed to exert in Game 7 against the Kings two
days earlier. Because of how pained Sam Cassell looked at
the end of that game.
To be completely honest, I was completely shocked
by how the Wolves stayed in Game 1 against the Lakers. If you
were to take away about a one minute stretch in the late third
quarter, where Derek Fisher knocked down a three, Then
Kareem Rush did before Fisher knocked down a second one. The
Lakers added another shot and the game went from 67-67 to 78-67
in a hurry. The Wolves clawed their way back to cut the lead
down to two points, but it just wasn't enough.
Latrell Sprewell was the main bright spot
Friday night. He scored 23 points on 8-16 from the field (3-7
from 3 point land) and 4-5 from the line. He also had 6 rebounds
and 5 assists. The other bright spot was the surprising play of
Michael Olowokandi. After not leaving the bench for the
Wolves in the final three games of the Kings' series, Kandi came
off the bench and scored 10 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. I
think this was very important, and not just for Olowokandi, but
for the coaching staff. I think they realize that these centers
do have to attempt to play some offense. If for no other reason,
than simply to make Shaquille O'Neal play some defense
and exert some energy on that side of the court. Kevin
Garnett played OK but certainly not to his lofty standards.
He had another double-double (16 points, 10 rebounds) though. He
did just look a little tired and didn't have quite the energy as
we typically see from him. After his performance in Game 7, I
can't even say anything negative about him... well, I do have
one thing a little later, so keep reading. Sam Cassell
somehow managed to battle for 16 points and 8 assists... in 3
quarters. His back and hip kept him out of the the entire fourth
For the Lakers, Shaq and Kobe dominated ,but they
got some help. Shaquille O'Neal went 9-16 from the field
and an impressive 9-11 from the line (Which, thanks to Shaq and
a typically incredibly stupid question from the great
(sarcasm) Craig Sager, we found out that is 81% (actually
81.8%)) for 27 points. He also had 18 rebounds, 5 assists and 4
blocks. Kobe Bryant scored 23 points and dished out 6
assists. He also had three steals. Karl Malone was 8-13
from the field for 17 points and had 11 rebounds. Derek
Fisher had the threes mentioned above in the Lakers big run.
On the game, he was 5-9 from the field, including 4-5 from the
3-point arc, for 14 points and 6 assists.
SUNDAY NIGHT - GAME 2 - WOLVES
89, LAKERS 71
Sam Cassell was expected to start, but no
one knew how long he would play. Well, the answer to that was
made clear 43 seconds into the game when he left for good in
pain. Darrick Martin came in, and I think that was the
right selection. Why? Because he is a point guard. He can handle
the ball and get the team into its sets without taking others,
like Kevin Garnett, Latrell Sprewell or Fred Hoiberg,
out of their normal positions. (easy to say after the game he
played though, right?)
The Wolves played an inspired first half. They
led 51-37 heading into the locker rooms. Kobe Bryant had
19 points, but O'Neal had just four. I think Bryant was able to
do well because Trenton Hassell could only play 2 minutes
in the first quarter before picking up his 2nd personal foul.
The Wolves had a very balanced attack. Latrell Sprewell
had a dozen points, but Kevin Garnett, Wally Szczerbiak
and Darrick Martin each had 10 points.
The Wolves started the 3rd quarter hot. When
Latrell Sprewell hit a 3 pointer with 9:40 left in the
quarter, the Wolves led 58-40. The Lakers, however, had a run of
their own, cutting the lead to 58-50 before Kevin Garnett
had a steal, followed by an assist to Wally Szczerbiak
for a three pointer. The Lakers made another run, cutting the
Wolves' lead to just nine. But Garnett knocked down a huge
three-pointer with just 0.4 seconds in the quarter to give the
Wolves a 68-56 least going into the final stanza.
got a little chippy at that point. First, Gary Trent and
Shaquille O'Neal each got T'd up for a bumping incident.
Later, after Wally Szcerbiak got called for a personal
foul on a elbow screen of Derek Fisher, Wally and Gary
Payton exchanged pleasantries, face-to-face. For that, each
received a technical. Later, Karl Malone went hard
through a Darrick Martin screen and flattened him. He
received a Flagrant-2 foul and was ejected from the game.
(Personally, I agree that he just went through the screen. He
should have been called for a personal foul, but the ejection
was a big much.)
But the Wolves increased their lead to 20 and
evened the series at a game a piece heading to Los Angeles for
Game 3 on Tuesday night (a 8 central time!!)
The Lakers were really a two-man team last night.
Kobe Bryant kept them somewhat close in the first half.
He ended the game with 27 points, five rebounds and 6 assists.
Shaquille O'Neal shot just 4-10 from the field and he
returned to his normal self by going 6-14 from the foul line. He
had 14 points and 16 rebounds. The Lakers shot just 36.8% from
the field for the game and 51.7% from the foul line.
The Wolves had just a great all-around game.
Kevin Garnett led with 24 points and 11 rebounds (his 13th
double-double in 14 playoff games) in 41 minutes. Latrell
Sprewell had 17 points and 8 assists (and just one turnover)
in 44 minutes. And, have you noticed, Sprewell is always playing
peacemaker in any scuffles? Wally Szczerbiak came off the
bench early and played 39 minutes. He scored 16 points, grabbed
five rebounds and added 7 assists. We have all seen Wally score
30 or even 40 points in a game before, but it would be hard to
argue that he isn't play his best all-around basketball the last
couple of games. Darrick Martin had to play and he played
great and he played a lot. In 37 minutes, Martin scored 15
points and had 6 assists without turning the ball over. Ervin
Johnson was able to play more minutes. He had his five
fouls, but he also scored 7 points and grabbed 8 boards.
Analysts talk about how the Wolves bench outscored the Lakers
bench 41-14. Well, sure they did, but when you consider that
Wally and D-Martin combined for 76 minutes and 31 points, you
would expect the Wolves to get some production from their bench.
All around just a great game for the Wolves. They
were desperate for a win and they outworked and outplayed and out
hustled the Lakers in game 2. They will need to play even better in
Game 3 Tuesday night if they expect to win. So, what will happen?
Can the Wolves win a game (two?) in LA? Will the series come back to
Minneapolis with the Lakers holding a 3-1 series lead? Let me know
what you're thinking.
Send me an e-mail.
Oh, what was my one negative that I could say about
KG? Well, have you seen Latrell Sprewell at post-game press
conference. Spree looks like he should be on GQ! Nice suites and
just spiffy. Garnett looks like a typical Minnesotan, wearing some
bad sweaters. Just an opinion. I'm sure they're nice!
That is it for today. Have yourself a great Monday and a
wonderful week! Don't work too hard! As always, if you have any
questions or comments on anything, please
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